Motor Sports have mostly escaped Hollywood's attention. (Anyone who's seen Days of Thunder can understand why.) But racing fans burn rubber where studio execs fear to tread, and in the case of Driven, a $70 million film set in the open-wheel racing world, that fan is Sylvester Stallone. "This movie," says Sly, who wrote, produced and stars in Driven, "isn't about who wins the race but who achieves certain goals: overcoming fear, pushing back the hands of time, proving one's manhood."
Stallone, a longtime racing junkie, had planned to do a Formula One flick, but F/1 officials wanted $50 million for filming rights. Stallone then turned to CART, which, he says, "agreed in literally one hour" (for an undisclosed amount). CART gave director Renny Harlin (Deep Blue Sea) and his crew extensive access to the seven events at which they shot, including the Detroit Grand Prix and the Molson Indy in Toronto.
Driven, scheduled to open in April, also stars Burt Reynolds as a crotchety team owner (asked why he got the role, Reynolds said, "Because Burgess Meredith is dead") and Gina Gershon as the ex-wife of Stallone's character, an aging CART driver. Gershon, an avowed road freak who normally pilots a "macked-out" Cadillac, insisted on getting a turn behind the wheel of a CART machine. ("I was like somebody's little sister saying, I wanna drive,' " says Gershon.) Stallone also took a spin during a scene in which he weaves through traffic on the streets of Toronto. "I came face-to-face with the reality of g force," says Stallone. "I was going 185, and I realized it's possible for your ears to touch the back of your head. It's the closest I'll ever come to being an astronaut."