Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Too Old To Die Young’: Everything You Need to Know About the Amazon TV Show

Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s newly announced crime series has been kept extremely under wraps — until recently. Refn has been sharing behind-the-scenes photos and videos on his personal Twitter account since before production officially started. He’s announced the high-profile talent making up most of the cast, hyping fans and critics for another wild crime drama to take the small screen. As the genre heightens in popularity for TV audiences, the “Drive” director’s pairing with Amazon derives eager speculation as to what this grisly new drama will look like.

The series has been greenlit with a 10-episode straight-to-series order residing at Amazon. “Too Old To Die Young” takes place in the criminal underbelly of Los Angeles, exploring various characters’ “existential journeys from being killers to becoming samurais in the city of angels.” With shooting having just begun, start getting acquainted with the details surrounding this star-studded series.

Shooting Will Last For 10 Months

According to a video Refn tweeted out November 27, shooting has officially begun and will last for up to 10 months. Prefacing the self-recorded video is a message reading “Dear Friends, Hello from Day One on Too Old To Die Young!” Sporting a watermelon-printed blanket and a “Make TV Great Again” hat, Refn takes his followers inside an empty writer’s room where scripts mount the walls.

“I’m shooting for 10 months. It’s almost like having an existential crisis every day. But creativity is about turning your weakness into your strength,” he said with a smile. “I’m looking forward to everyone participating in this odyssey of creativity.”

It’s exciting to see how committed NWR is to, quote, “making TV great again,” considering it’s only his second time working in the medium. His other television endeavor was serving as director for two episodes of “Agatha Cristie’s Marple,” a British series that went off the air in 2013 after its sixth season.

The Cast Is Full Of Favorites

Thanks again to Refn’s activity on Twitter, the world now knows the cast that’ll be bringing “Too Old To Die Young” to life on screen. Notably, Miles Teller will be acting for television for the first time — his performance in Damien Chazelle’s 2014 film “Whiplash” gained critical acclaim and since then he has starred in major films such as the “Divergent” franchise and “Thank You For Your Service.”

Billy Baldwin is also set to star, marking a very exciting event in television. Besides ironic appearances such as playing himself in “MacGyver” and attending the role of Lance Drake Mandrell in “30 Rock,” Baldwin’s last memorable TV roles track back to his run as William van der Woodsen on “Gossip Girl” and his recurring role on “Parenthood.” “Hunger Games” alum Jena Malone will also appear in “Too Old To Die Young,” as well as John Hawkes, Nell Tiger Free, Babs Olusanmokun, Callie Hernandez, and Cristina Rodlo.

Ed Brubaker Will Serve As An Executive Producer

Comic book author, illustrator, and TV writer Ed Brubaker first gained traction as a comic book author on the semi-autobiographic series “Lowlife” published in the mid-‘90s. His oeuvre is impressive, with over 150 published graphic novels in just the DC and Marvel extended universe, as well as script work on HBO’s “Westworld.”

The graphic novelist is also gifted in designing and illustrating some of the stories he’s involved with, leaning towards a darker vision. Brubaker’s comic book background, alongside Refn’s neon-noir filmmaking style, is sure to stun audiences with both dreamlike visuals and hard-hitting, graphic realities.

There Will Be Swords Involved

Nothing screams Nicolas Winding Refn like violent sword-wielding against visually striking backgrounds. As mentioned before, the vague logline for the series reveals that “killers” will become “samurais in the city of angels,” which should be taken very literally knowing the extent of Refn’s films: There are extreme doses of explicit violence seen in the Ryan Gosling lead “Only God Forgives” and his earlier piece, “Valhalla Rising,” starring a one-eyed and merciless Mads Mikkelsen. There’s no telling how far Refn will take the new Amazon series, but it’s sure to be different than anything currently on the Prime roster.

“Only God Forgives”

Refn Has Hinted At a “Neon Demon” Crossover

“The Neon Demon” is a horror/thriller written and directed by Refn that was released in 2016 and produced by Amazon Studios. The film stars Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, and Keanu Reeves and has built a cult following, and the bizarre nature of the movie is making fans truly wonder what “Too Old To Die Young” will contain, given that Amazon has allowed major creative leniency in the past.

Refn seems to be thoroughly enjoying teasing his Twitter followers with whimsical behind-the-scenes photos and strange, ambiguous hints, and on November 24, he tweeted: “Dear Friends! The Neon Demon will appear as One Eye in Too Old To Die Young,” accompanied by a black and white picture of mannequin heads.

Even fans who took the time to reply weren’t exactly sure what the director meant by this, but there’s heavy symbolism of sight using literal eyeballs in both “The Neon Demon” and “Valhalla Rising.” One guess is that “The Neon Demon” and “Too Old To Die Young” might be in the same universe, similarly to “Mulholland Drive” and “Twin Peaks,” but it’s much too early for even good-natured speculation.

"The Neon Demon"

“The Neon Demon”

Amazon Studios

Refn and Brubaker Are Also Teaming Up On A Movie, Due to Premiere in 2018

Refn has most recently attached himself to the feature-length project “Maniac Cop,” which is currently in pre-production and is set to premiere sometime in 2018. Refn will serve as a producer on Ed Brubaker’s original screenplay which tells us one thing: these two work well together.

Interestingly enough, “Maniac Cop” is also set in present-day day Los Angeles and follows a police officer set on revealing the truth about a string of brutal murders of innocent people committed by a fellow cop.

“To Old To Die Young” May Premiere On Amazon in 2018..

…but don’t quote us on that. It’s too early to say for sure, but both IMDB and The Movie Database claim that “Too Old To Die Young” will be available in the summer of 2018. However, given Refn’s claim that the shoot will last 10 months, the release date may border on 2019. Stay tuned in by following the director on Twitter and keeping up with IndieWire updates.

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‘American Gods’ Bloodbath: Showrunners Bryan Fuller, Michael Green Depart in Shakeup

FremantleMedia North America has made a massive shift at the helm of its signature scripted series, “American Gods.” Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, who adapted the series from the Neil Gaiman novel, are departing the show, and it’s unclear how that might impact production on Season 2.

According to multiple insiders, Fremantle had a falling out with Fuller and Green due to a debate over budgets. One noted that Fremantle wasn’t factoring season-to-season cost increases, as well as an bump in the exchange rate with Canada, where the show is filmed. Ultimately, that would have meant a cut in the show’s episodic budget, which is already high because it doesn’t have any standing sets. Budget concerns forced an impasse between both sides, ultimately leading to the decision to part ways.

Both Fuller and Green have busy plates beyond “Gods,” which may have also led to the change. Stuck in the middle is Starz, which has been looking to “American Gods” as a signature show for the pay cable network.

Now that they’re gone, there’s no word yet on replacement showrunners. Gaiman will apparently remain as a producer in some capacity, but also has a full plate with the upcoming miniseries adaptation of his and Terry Pratchett’s novel “Good Omens” for Amazon.

"American Gods"

“American Gods”

© 2017 Starz Entertainment, LLC

“We’re on board as long as the show makes sense for Starz,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht told reporters this summer at the Television Critics Association press tour. “The vision of Neil Gaiman is the guiding light for all of us, and Bryan Fuller and Michael Green are the guiding lights of that.”

But at that time, Albrecht wasn’t able to give a timetable on when Season 2 would premiere: “It’s a difficult show to make because there are a lot of people to wrangle.”

Bryan Fuller, Michael Green, Ian McShane and Ricky WhittleThe Contenders Emmys, presented by Deadline, Photo Studio, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Apr 2017

Bryan Fuller, Michael Green, Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle


More than half of the Season 2 episodes are already written, and Fuller and Green have already mapped out their vision of how to completely adapt Gaiman’s world, so their take on “American Gods” will continue to be felt even if they’re no longer at the helm. (Fuller experienced a similar exit on “Star Trek: Discovery,” which he also helped create before exiting.)

Fuller’s upcoming credits include a remake of “Amazing Stories” for Apple, and he has also recently hinted at a “Hannibal” revival. Green’s busy year included the release of several features he wrote, including “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Alien: Covenant” and “Logan.” He’s also developing “Raising Dion” for Netflix and “Y: The Last Man” for FX.

“American Gods” balances humor, drama, supernatural, violence, romance, and weighty subjects like immigration, religion, and sexuality in a way that might be the most ambitious series of Fuller’s career. With Gaiman’s blessing, he and Green turned it into what IndieWire TV critic Ben Travers called a “gorgeous, violent Americana infused supernatural drama.” The cast includes Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Betty Gilpin, Pablo Schreiber, Cloris Leachman, Jonathan Tucker, Kristen Chenoweth, Gillian Anderson, and Orlando Jones.

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‘Ozark,’ ‘SMILF,’ and 5 More Shows That Could Really Benefit from an Awards Boost

Whether or not award shows like the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards have an immediate impact on viewership, a strong night at either (or both) can drastically affect the future of a series. Low-rated shows like “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Mozart in the Jungle,” or even “30 Rock” and “Arrested Development,” may not have earned follow-up seasons without the repeated embrace of the HFPA, SAG, and other appreciative awards shows that boosted their profile (and their respective networks’).

What matters, in the end, is more seasons; more work; more of what at least someone considers to be TV’s best of the best. The fact that a golden sphere on top of a podium or a bronze statue of a performer can contribute to talented creators continuing their passion projects is pretty special.

In the peak TV age, it’s also important. Shows have to stand out somehow, and winning awards is seen as one of the best ways to elevate a series above the pack. So what shows need the help this year? What series, networks, and creators can benefit from the most from recognition at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards? Who needs to win, and who needs to be part of the conversation? Below, IndieWire has put the spotlight on seven shows that could benefit from an awards boost.

If you see their names on nominations day — December 11 for the Golden Globes and December 13 for the SAG Awards — know they’re one step closer to a new season, a long TV life, and greater artistic independence. You know, we hope.

SMILF Frankie Shaw Showtime Season 1

1. “SMILF” (Showtime)

The HFPA loves Showtime — or, at least, they did. The network’s nominations total has dipped from nine to three to one over the past three years. In the past, the Globes have supported otherwise ignored Showtime series like “Californication” and “The Affair,” and their so-called “kingmaker” role is well-established.

So if they want to be the first to honor a show, they could do just that for “SMILF.” Frankie Shaw’s freshman comedy has received strong reviews and solid support from the network. It was just renewed for Season 2, but it still feels like the series needs a bit more attention to stand out from all the other half-hour dramedies out there. Many are comparing it to Pamela Adlon’s FX series “Better Things,” thanks to their single-mom stories, but “SMILF” hasn’t received as many raves. The Globes could help shift the perception it’s a second-tier priority in the prestige TV world.

Best Bets: Golden Globes’ Best Comedy Series, Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Frankie Shaw), Best Supporting Actress (Rosie O’Donnell)

Ozark Jason Bateman Season 1 Netflix

2. “Ozark” (Netflix)

“Ozark” doesn’t need to earn a slew of awards to thrive on Netflix, but Netflix may need “Ozark” to turn into an awards player if it wants to surpass HBO as tinseltown’s winningest network. With “House of Cards” on the way out, the streaming giant needs to find a replacement series, and “Ozark” could be it (or help make up the difference along with other new dramas, like “Mindhunter”). Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright have been nominated at the SAG Awards the past three years — that’s not going to happen this year, but “Ozark” could sneak in and snag nods for ensemble and Jason Bateman. Bateman may also be the network’s best bet for a Best Actor in a Drama slot at the Globes. Moreover, any sort of nomination tally would help turn this show into an Emmys contender come 2018.

Best Bets: Best Actor in a Drama Series (Jason Bateman), Golden Globes’ Best Supporting Actress (Julia Garner), and SAG Awards’ Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

THE MAYOR - "Monuments Man" - After Courtney and his crew discover the historic music venue in Fort Grey, Tito's Ballroom, is closing down for good due to increased rent costs, he attempts to save the club by sponsoring a music festival and enlists Bay Area rap legend E-40 to headline the event. However, Ed Gunt opposes keeping Tito's open which leads Courtney to an unexpected way of winning him over. Meanwhile, Dina agrees to become choir director and realizes her teaching style might be preventing her group from singing in perfect harmony, on an all-new episode of "The Mayor," TUESDAY, DEC. 5 (9:30-10:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Richard Cartwright) BRANDON MICHAEL HALL

3. “The Mayor” (ABC)

ABC’s well-reviewed and topical sitcom is easily one of the best new broadcast comedies of the fall season, but its ratings aren’t great. It’s the network’s lowest-rated half-hour series, and buzz has all but died out, so it needs some awards traction to get people talking again and help earn a possible second season. The Golden Globes like themselves some broadcast fare (and ABC is putting on a heckuva campaign), so a nod or two isn’t out of the question. Plus, lead actor Brandon Michael Hall has a better shot at a nomination with Donald Glover (“Atlanta”) ineligible and Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”) almost certainly out of the race.

Best Bets: Golden Globes’ Best Actor in a Comedy Series (Brandon Michael Hall)

The Deuce Season 1 Episode 5 James Franco

4. “The Deuce” (HBO)

“Game of Thrones” is riding high with three straight years of Best Drama Series nominations, but is there room for another HBO drama? No, we’re not holding out hope the HFPA will honor “The Leftovers” in its final season, but what about “The Deuce” in its first? Last year saw both “GoT” and “Westworld” get in, so it’s not an impossibility, especially given the crazy critical love for David Simon’s latest. No one else has been able to nominate it yet, its feminist-focused subject matter is of-the-moment, and then there are those Globes’ coveted famous faces. James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal are both former Globes winners, so this could be a new HFPA favorite. Most importantly for HBO, “The Deuce” needs to get some awards traction going if it hopes to sustain momentum for the 2018 Emmys.

Best Bets: Golden Globes’ Best Drama Series, SAG Awards’ Best Ensemble in a Drama Series, Best Actor in a Drama Series (James Franco), Best Actress in a Drama Series (Maggie Gyllenhaal)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 1 Alex Borstein Rachel Brosnahan

5. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

Last year, Billy Bob Thornton won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Series for “Goliath.” Two years ago, “Mozart in the Jungle” won Best Comedy Series, and “Transparent” won the year before that. The HFPA is obviously a fan of Amazon original series, and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is the kind of late-year entry they could take a shine to, given the right nudge. Considering the recent allegations facing the company and its stars, Amazon needs a P.R. win, and “Maisel” runs antithetical to the company’s negative new associations: It’s created and directed by a woman, stars women, and features a narrative all about pushing back against the patriarchy. More attention on “Maisel” could help the streaming service’s rebranding efforts.

Best Bets: Golden Globes’ Best Drama Series, Best Actress in a Drama Series (Rachel Brosnahan)

Gillian Anderson as Media

6. “American Gods” (Starz)

Despite a huge push from Starz, “American Gods” failed to make a dent at the 2017 Emmys, earning two nods in the Creative Arts categories and none for its outstanding cast and well-received series. Perhaps the challenging otherworldly elements were too much for TV Academy voters, but the HFPA has stranger tastes. This violent and supernatural but gorgeous and smart series could steal a few slots. Moreover, if it wants to be the network’s main prestige player, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green’s adaptation needs to land some hardware.

Best Bets: Golden Globes’ Best Actor in a Drama Series (Ian McShane)

Aubrey Plaza, "Legion"

7. “Legion” (FX)

Admittedly, this one’s a long shot. Noah Hawley’s Marvel adaptation was blanked at the Emmys and has been off the air since March. Season 2 doesn’t have a release date, so FX hasn’t started pushing it. All this means that Golden Globes and SAG voters will have to have a long memory and strong enough feelings for “Legion” that they’ll back a show yet to be supported elsewhere. The HFPA is pretty fine with being the first, and critics were supportive of the mind-bending new drama. Aubrey Plaza certainly left a mark, and she’s got the kind of captivating personality the Globes would want at their ceremony. The SAG Awards might be a tougher sell, given the massive voter base, but “Legion” is indisputably memorable (and subjectively deserving). It’d be nice to see this superhero series in the mix.

Best Bets: Golden Globes’ Best Supporting Actress (Aubrey Plaza)

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