Michael Madsen boosts cars and packs heat in Driv3r. So what else is new?
Nobody tells Michael Madsen what to do, but players of Driv3r can come close: In Atari’s shooting, street-racing, car-jacking action hybrid (available this June for Xbox, PS2, and PC), the star of Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill—Vol. 2 lends his gravelly voice to Tanner, an undercover cop trying to take down a ring of car thieves. With Madsen riding shotgun, we verrry carefully slipped behind the wheel to take Driv3r for a spin.
I THINK I’M PARKED IN THE RED ZONE
As its title suggests, the bulk of Driv3r is spent speeding around the streets of Miami, Nice, and Istanbul in vehicles ranging from motorcycles to muscle cars. While he doesn’t advocate the kind of reckless, high-velocity moves featured in the game, Madsen could duplicate them if necessary. “I’ve done most of my own stunt driving,” he says. “I replaced my driver in one film. He couldn’t do what they were asking him to do, so I did it myself.” Madsen wouldn’t say which film, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t Free Willy.
I BET YOU’RE A BIG LEE MARVIN FAN
Between missions, Driv3r’s story is told in scenes that pit Tanner against shady characters voiced by Ving Rhames, Michelle Rodriguez, and Mickey Rourke. Though the snarky cinematics owe a debt to Kill Bill director Quentin Tarantino, Madsen says it’s unavoidable: “So Tanner just shot somebody, and a car blew up, but that’s happened in a lot of films. I see Quentin’s influence in every part of the media. I’ve seen him imitated in pizza commercials.”
EITHER THE COPS GOT HIM, OR THEY DON’T
To a certain generation, Madsen is recognized as frequently for his videogame work as he is for his film roles—he’s recently played antiheroes in Grand Theft Auto III and True Crime: Streets of LA, which perhaps explains why appearing as a genuine good guy in Driv3r was so appealing to him. “Most of the time, I’m asked to be the guy who’s thrown out the window,” he says, “or the guy who’s run over. I just really wanted to be the guy who survives. He does what he has to do to get through, but at least he gets to ride into the sunset at the end.”