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How Timothy Hutton Came to Direct the Cars’ ‘Drive’ Music Video

It’s common knowledge — among people in the industry, at least — that Timothy Hutton is the youngest ever winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Ordinary People,” which was Robert Redford’s 1980 directorial debut. A lesser known fact is that four years later at the age of 24, Hutton made his own debut as a director at the request of the Cars’ Ric Ocasek, helming the influential 1984 music video for “Drive.” Ocasek died Sunday of causes that have not yet been disclosed.

“During that time, [music] videos were a new thing and musicians were so excited to make videos that it was a great atmosphere for a filming,” Hutton recalled during a Q&A for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation held in May. “It came to be because I lived next door to the manager of the Cars,” the actor added, referring to the late Elliot Roberts. The respected manager, who represented Neil Young and Tracy Chapman among others, had an advance copy of the band’s “Heartbeat City.” “He had some people in the neighborhood over to listen to a new album they had coming out, sort of a record-listening party. Then he asked everybody what we all thought might be the hit. I said I thought the ballad, ‘Drive,’ was really a special song,” Hutton said. “And that was it.”

But that comment launched Hutton’s career as a director — “Drive” proved to be the band’s biggest international hit. “The next day, [Roberts] said, ‘Ric Ocasek wants to talk to you about that song. He’s the leader the Cars.’ ”

What proceeded when Hutton called Ocasek may have been one of the quickest business negotiations in music video history. Hutton said: “I got on the phone with him and he just said, ‘So you like that song, huh?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘You want to direct the video?’ And that’s how it happened. It was so much fun.” Not only did the eerie clip star 18-year-old model Porizkova — Ocasek’s future wife — in a dramatic performance, but it also predated the viral Mannequin Challenge by about 32 years.

Hutton didn’t direct any other videos for the band but he did helm the clip for Don Henley’s “Not Enough Love in the World” in 1985. And in one of Ocasek’s few forays into acting, he turned up (along with Tom Petty and Neil Young) in Hutton’s 1987 comedy, “Made in Heaven.”

Watch the official video for “Drive” below:

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