Nicolas Winding Refn Announces Animated TV Series in the Works

Nicolas Winding Refn is expanding into the animated world.

While Charlie Kaufman and Guillermo Del Toro have announced new emphases on animation, Refn exclusively told IndieWire that he is current working on an animated TV series.

“I’m doing an animation show which I’m very, very, actually really excited about,” the “Only God Forgives” auteur said. “I’ve been concentrating on for a year. I was so tired, I forgot about that. That is my new project.”

Refn is also creating an adaptation of famed British sleuth series “The Famous Five.”

“In Europe, it’s like institution. It’s like British royalty when it comes to pop culture of literature,” Refn said. “They are these old children’s books from the ’30s from England and everyone read them who as growing up all over Europe. Everyone has had their parents read them ‘The Famous Five.’ My kids know them backwards and forwards. And so it was something that myself and my partner at [production company] Moonage, Matthew Read, had just been discussing for years.”

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Justina Machado as Dolores Roach. Dolores looks through a window pane, her face half in red light and half in shadow.

Refn continued, “It could be fun to make ‘The Famous Five’ again because the options keep on coming up and going and he was able to secure the rights suddenly. After ‘Neon Demon,’ we were actually discussing it and then he was able to get the rights recently and so I just signed on to create it. I don’t run for production. I’m not directing it. I’m purely just creating my version of ‘The Famous Five.’”

Refn is listed on IMDb as creator, writer, and executive producer for the upcoming series. The “Drive” director linked “The Famous Five” to the creation of “Scooby Doo,” a property he may be interested in exploring down the road.

“Fun fact: I’m told that ‘The Famous Five’ was also the inspiration for ‘Scooby Doo.’ So that’s a little Wikipedia footnote,” Refn said. “But apparently the story is – at least this is what Matthew told me – that at one point they were trying to sell ‘The Famous Five’ brand to the U.S. and something happened that didn’t really go through. And so someone then took it on and then that became ‘Scooby Doo.’ I don’t know if it’s true or not. So obviously, you know, take it with a grain of salt, but it’s a great story.”

Refn’s own personal history with “Scooby Doo” has influenced his filmmaking style.

“I grew up on ‘Scooby Doo’ as well. The older ’70s versions, those were of my time,” Refn said. “I loved them and I always loved Scooby Doo, Shaggy, and all those characters. I think they’re terrific. What I like about the old versions is that they had that romanticism. And I like the 2D drawings and stuff like that.”

Refn stayed mum on additional series “Les Italiens,” teasing that it is a “larger concept than just on the drawing boards.”

And when asked whether he is looking for his next project to write and direct, Refn replied, “I think you’re always looking. It’s like oxygen, it’s like you want to breathe. I mean, sure, we all have plans. I think I’m going to paint actually, but that’s just something new that’s come my way.”

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