James Mangold's Oscar-nominated racing drama Ford V Ferrari featured Matt Damon and Christian Bale in the lead roles of car designer Carroll Shelby and hotheaded driver Ken Miles. During an episode of Collider's Directors on Directing panel as part of [email protected], filmmaker Joseph Kosinski revealed that he had once been attached to direct an earlier version of Ford v Ferrari titled Go Like Hell, based on a 2009 book by A.J. Baime, before the project fell through.
"The one that I always think about that got away was called Go Like Hell, which eventually did get made as Ford v Ferrari. I always wanted to make a racing film, but the thing about racing movies is, it can't be about racing. It has to have some amazing story underneath to warrant itself being made, and that story was one of those great stories of an incredible friendship and an incredible rivalry and an incredibly dangerous race."
As with any decent-budgeted film that was not an adaptation of an internationally popular comic book or novel series, it was important to get some A-list talent attached to Go Like Hell to get producers interested, and Kosinski was able to go to the very top of the business, by getting Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt interested in playing the roles of Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles.
"I wouldn't say we got close to production, but I got to the point where I had Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt at a table read, reading the script together. But we couldn't get the budget to the number it had to be at, and it was the right number. So that was the one for me that got away. But I was thrilled to see that they ended up making an amazing version of it."
The project was very dear to Kosinski's heart, so it is understandable that he had mixed feelings upon learning that James Mangold had taken over the film with a new set of actors. But ultimately Kosinski feels Mangold did a great job with bringing the story of Miles and Shelby to the big screen.
"The script was the same, and I think [Mangold's] approach was generally how I was going to do it, which was real cars, real racing - obviously, making it with Tom, that's the only way that it would be made. In some ways, what we did for Top Gun, we were going to do for car racing with mounted cameras and all that. I thought [Mangold] did an excellent version and I thought Christian Bale and Matt Damon nailed the characters, so that was a case where you go in going, 'God, I hope this is good because I love the story so much.' I actually saw it with Tom and we were both thrilled when we saw it. It's a weird thing to see someone make a movie of something that you had kind of got close to making, but they did an amazing job with it."
These quotes were first shared by our friends at Collider.