James Mangold on ‘Ford v Ferrari’ and Martin Scorsese’s Marvel comments

Matt Damon, left, and Christian Bale, both wearing sunglasses, in "Ford v Ferrari."
Matt Damon, left, and Christian Bale in “Ford v Ferrari.”
(Merrick Morton / Twentieth Century Fox)

Director James Mangold is enthusiastic about his latest film, “Ford v Ferrari.” It’s centered around American car designer Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon, and British race car driver Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale. In this episode of “The Reel,” Mangold sits down with host Mark Olsen to talk about what’s behind his latest film. It’s a story, he says, he always wanted to take a shot at.

“And that was mainly, I felt, because the characters were just so powerful, unique, charming, irreverent,” Mangold said. “It seemed such fertile ground for a kind of adult-themed action picture.”


Mangold, who also directed “Logan,” opens up about the importance of character work in his action movies. He tells Olsen that Damon and Bale are central to the performances in “Ford v Ferrari” and were perfect for their roles.

“I literally thought of them as I was working on the script. I mean, I’ve known them both for 20 years. And Christian has so many overlaps with Ken Miles, I felt like we were even writing for Christian whether he was on the movie or not,” Mangold said. “And I needed someone who could step into Caroll Shelby and capture that kind of swagger. And for me, I’ve always been a fan of Matt’s work. I think he’s a phenomenal actor.”

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As a director, Mangold also weighs in on the controversy surrounding Martin Scorsese’s comments about Marvel movies.

“My perception about it is that we really wouldn’t be having this conversation if there was more screen real estate for all movies,” Mangold said. “There aren’t enough resources for everyone, so people are turning on each one another.”

But Mangold takes it a step further, telling Olsen that the conversation is broader than just cinema. It even relates, he says, to his daily life, where experiences are all starting to feel market-tested.

“What it is about right now, is that Marty’s movie is at the Belasco and then is going to be on TV in a month. That’s what the frustration is about. Because I’m as in full agreement that movies look too machined and tailored. Not just movies. Food. Airline trips. Television shows. Everything feels market-tested,” said Mangold.

“I think this is a cultural-wide problem,” he continued. “I think it’s about trying to hook audiences back into what unpredictable, more audacious art feels like.”

Check out other episodes of The Reel here