In addition to bleaching his hair and covering himself in tattoos, Ryan (who plays a motorcycle stunt driver) put on a good 40 pounds of muscle for the role. In this scene we’re about to shoot, he is supposed to be eating a burger. We did eight takes, which meant Ryan had to eat eight burgers. - On Set: The Place Beyond Pines
Drive references the fable of The Scorpion and the Frog: the frog agrees to carry the scorpion across the river; the scorpion stings the frog, saying “it’s my nature” and both drown. Driver can be seen as The Frog of the story - he drives/carries criminals (scorpions) around in his car, but is inevitably dragged into their destructive world (stung) leading to everybody’s downfall. Driver’s jacket has a scorpion on the back, just as the frog carried the scorpion on its back.
On the Manhattan bridge, Cianfrance gave each actor separate directions. To Michelle, he said, “whatever you do, don’t tell Ryan what’s on your mind; [to Ryan] Michelle has a secret and you have to get it out of her.”
An hour later, Cianfrance remembers “my producers are freaking out because we’re wasting film. And Michelle is hard as nails, she’s not going to give it up to him, and Ryan gets so desperate and frustrated that he climbs up on the fence of the Manhattan Bridge. There’s no stunt double, there’s no safety net, we have no insurance for that kind of thing, and, thankfully, Michelle tells him and he comes down.”