Watch Alejandro Jodorowsky give a tarot reading

Nicolas Winding Refn seeks sage advice from the cult filmmaker for Only God Forgives. His wife, Liv Corfixen, documents the process

What better insight into the working process of a cult filmmaker than through the eyes of his significant other? Meet Liv Corfixen, who documented her hot-headed director hubby Nicolas Winding Refn while he wheedled Ryan Gosling into maintaining his brooding smoulder throughout Only God Forgives. This unfettered look behind the scenes is interesting for a few reasons; namely, Refn seeks advice from cult legend and tarot reader Alejandro Jodorowsky, he wears a DVF-type wrap skirt for good luck on set, and he's got a temper of 103. Through the film's making on location in Bangkok, his wife pokes her lens in to his most private moments (i.e. when the pressure gets too much) answering the question 'What's it like to be married to a director?'

In the film both you and Nicolas meet with Alejandro Jodorowsky to get a tarot card reading. How did you first meet him?

Liv Corfixen: I can’t really remember how Nicolas met him, but I know he was always a big fan of his old movies like El Topo. But every time we go to Paris we go to his house and Nicolas has a tarot reading by him. Every time he does a movie, Nicolas likes to want to know how the movie will turn out, and if he’s on the right path.

Has he done one for his new film, Neon Demon?

Liv Corfixen: Yeah, he was actually in a bad mood recently and very frustrated as usual! I think he actually had a tarot reading like a week ago by Alejandro over the phone. He looked very happy afterwards, so that’s good. Alejandro’s quite unique. He’s really special, that guy.

Why did you decide to document the making of Only God Forgives?

Liv Corfixen: We moved to Bangkok to do the movie and I thought, 'Shit, what should I do six months in Bangkok?' At the beginning I didn’t realise how I wanted it to be and then I realised while I was doing it that I could make it into a documentary.

How did you approach Nicolas with the idea?

Liv Corfixen: He was quite open to the idea. He knew that I was anxious about moving to Bangkok because it's hard the way you have to take your kids out of kindergarten and speak in another language. It’s such a big sacrifice. Before he had always been leaving us while we stayed behind in Denmark, which is tough. That’s why we decided to go together. Nicolas has an exhibitionist side to him, so it wasn’t like I had to persuade him to be in the movie.

I had access to him and Ryan (Gosling) and I knew that I could have more intimate stuff because it was me doing it, not some stranger coming and doing a documentary about them, and I thought that’s why it’s so personal and I think he was fine with that. Even in the editing room I didn't allow him in. While we were shooting he wasn’t like, 'Don’t film me', and after when he had to see it, that’s the hard part. He didn’t really like that. At the end I was like, 'You have to see it, it’s almost done you have to approve it.' But he said there wasn’t really anything he couldn’t handle.

What was his reaction? 

Liv Corfixen: He was positive, he liked it. I think he found it therapeutic in a way to watch. To watch you realise how tough it is for the other person you’re involved with. By moving your family and all your feelings and anxieties are up and down, you know? He recognised that. It’s like this every time he’s doing a movie, we have to go through problems and ups and downs, disasters and fears.

“Living with an artist can be difficult. Because every time he does a movie, you have to go through all this anxiety and fear” – Liv Corfixen

What do you mean by that? 

Liv Corfixen: Living with an artist can be difficult. Because every time he does a movie… I guess it’s the same if he was a painter or if he was an artist, you have all those emotional things you go through. It’s hard for the other person you live with because you have to go through all this anxiety and fear every time, and he knows that. 

At what point during filming was he in the worst mood?

Liv Corfixen: It’s hard to remember because it was so often! The day that was the last day of the editing where he was yelling at me, that was pretty intense because that’s always the day where he can be really depressed because he knows that now he can't change it; the editing is locked. He can’t change anything, that’s always hard.

There is one scene towards the end of the film where there is a confrontation. What happened?

Liv Corfixen: That was the end of the last day of editing. In the moment where he yells at me I’m just taken aback because I don’t know why he’s like that, and now he sort of hates the movie, and he’s in such a bad mood. But I must say, since then it’s been much better, thanks to couples therapy. After 19 years, you gotta have some couple’s therapy.

My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn is available digitally from today and available on DVD from March 2

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