Welcome to Issue 6 of A RABBITS FOOT— our first ‘special issue’ and an ode to cinema and speed. Inside these pages you’ll find interviews with Michael Mann, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Franc Rodham, Nia DaCosta, Jeff Nichols, Danny Lyon, and many more incredible artists.
Full disclosure— I am a petrolhead: an obsessive car, bike, and boat lover with a passion that has so far not abated with time, hence this issue. In the early eighties, I dearly loved Myrtle: a white VW Beetle cabriolet that shared my early Hollywood days and had her roof stolen outside the Chateau Marmont. This meant that for years, come rain or shine, I drove her around the city open to the elements. A couple of date nights didn’t go so well. No lady likes to arrive at a restaurant looking like she just competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans, but I loved Myrtle all the same. Who the hell steals a car roof? It had to be an inside job.
In terms of hard core ‘cred’, I admit to having spun a couple of Porsche 911s and survived to tell the tale. In my film directing days, I cruised around L.A. in a baby blue 1970s Cadillac Eldorado, and only sold it when a local homeless guy started to call it home. Back then, I also destroyed two Ducati Monster motorcycles in a single week on the same strip of road outside of St Tropez, racing some dude on a Harley. A dubious record on bikes admittedly—especially if you add up injuries: I have broken my foot, my wrist and my collar bone, but still I drive ‘em! At the moment, I actually pine for a Triumph Bonneville.
My favourite car of all was the Ferrari Scaglietti in the photo below, but over the years I have also owned cars and motorbikes and scooters of every shape and size and speed. The navy blue Ferrari came with a quilted tan leather roof liner, and Persol sun visors, and even a pair of used driving gloves! One year I raced the award-winning British film producers Jeremy Thomas and Luc Roeg down to the Cannes film festival in my Ferrari. Italian engineering and my superior driving skills left them weeping…
Jeremy’s Porsche actually blew up on the wayand Luc’s vintage Aston whimpered onto Le Croisette like a spanked schoolboy. We won’t dwell on this, as I can feel Luc and JT’s furious blustering denials from here, but facts are facts boys! The only indignity my Ferrari and I endured on that trip was being pulled over on. the way home at the Mont Blanc tunnel by a couple of motorbike policewoman. It’s the only speeding ticket I ever enjoyed getting.
This issue then is for those of you with a passion for motorised magic, and a reminder of some of the great movies where cars or bikes play a central role. I didn’t include Bullitt, the Peter Yeats classic starring Steve McQueen, as everyone always includes that movie. In myheart though, Bullitt is right there. Time and space has not even allowed for a Producer’s section, which would certainly be led by my friend Eric Fellner, who produced Senna, Lauda, and Baby Driver. Eric is even more of a car nut than me.
We have, though, tried to include as many screen icons known for their own love of machines as we could, but frankly there are so many to list, it’s impossible to have them all here. Luckily, many movie folk are as passionate as I am on this subject, and so we can revisit the car and bike world some other time and perhaps focus on electric cars, which have changed the game so completely with their silent and terrifying speed. Perhaps one of the reasons movie makers are car and bike enthusiasts is because Hollywood itself is at the centre of L.A., a car town like no other, and L.A. itself is the heart of the California road culture, and a legendary car state with roads like the PCH and the 101 inspiring great road trip moves. After all,the first thing you do when you get to L.A. is rent or buy a car and thus cars and the car culture are a completely essential part of the movie world.
To illustrate this, of course, we include iconic movie stars in our pages, their ‘rides’ and some of the classic movies we all know and love which feature road trips or car chases. We also head straight off-piste in this thrilling publishing adventure of ours, helmets and driving gloves in hand and include, for the first time, four of our own shoots…which I hope you enjoy flicking through. Laurence Hills collaborates with Molly Martinez Hackney, our favourite art director, to shoot a homage to the sixties cult classic The Girl on a Motorcycle, modelled by emerging actress and director Maria Pawlikowska. Elsewhere, Matilda Montgomery shoots the Venice Beach painter Amanda Tutschek and her car, and the brilliant, celebrated photographer and artist Tierney Gearon sends a photo reportage on surfers and their rides. This issue also includes a shoot with director Nia DaCosta behind the wheel of a green vintage Alfa Romeo. She shares her experiences of making a Marvel picture.
We also celebrate other petrolhead filmmakers—whose works are associated with cars or the road. You can read interviews with Michael Mann, Alexander Payne, Jeff Nichols, Franc Roddam, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, and Jeremy Thomas, who between them have made some of the great road classics. In these pages, we pay homage to the late William Friedkin, who we had planned to interview but sadly passed away. He was a true master and visionary, and we pay special tribute with three essays that delve into three of his films.
Elsewhere in the issue, Patrick Dempsey, recently voted Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine, shares insight into his racing career and starring in Michael Mann’s terrific Ferrari movie. Sam Murphy writes about the fascinating Isadora Duncan, the magnetic dancer whose demise came at the hand of a Bugatti wheel. He also pens a piece about the Japanese anime film Akira and the true story of how the Bōsōzoku biker gangs of post-war Tokyo inspired the work. My pal David Flintwood shares his elegant Henley classic river cruiser, and Joseph Bullmore writes wonderfully about British speed hero Donald Campbell. Genevieve Gaunt, our books editor, interviews writer Amor Towles in a fascinating long-read conversation, and we share some of our favourite examples of lovers behind the wheel. The Ross Brothers, whose film Gasoline Rainbow caused an impressive amount of buzz this year, pen an essay about bringing their film to life, and Luke Georgiades explores Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels. There’s much more of course. Thanks to our advertisers, to Fatima for designing this damn thing, my deputy editor Chris Cotonou, to our writer Luke Georgiades, Adriana Aoun and our associate publisher Anna Pierce.