By Joey Nolfi
July 03, 2016 at 10:09 PM EDT
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In the hands of Sam Mendes, Spectre won an Oscar on top of grossing $880 million worldwide — but the film might’ve looked a bit different if helmed by Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn, who recently revealed he once turned down the opportunity to direct the 2015 James Bond sequel. 

Speaking to the Telegraphthe 45-year-old explained why he chose to focus on model-on-model cannibalism with June’s The Neon Demon instead of taking the reins of a world-renowned franchise.

“I just know this way I can do whatever I want, and that outweighs any money anyone can give me,” he said, referencing his decision to stick with his process of crafting smaller specialty films instead of working on big-budget studio flicks like Spectre, which Eon Productions approached him about helming.

According to IndieWire, Refn was also previously offered films like Wonder Woman and a Barbarella remake, but he ultimately turned those projects down as well. 

Though he chose not to direct Spectre, Refn isn’t entirely divorced from the world of James Bond: He’s currently at work on a Tokyo-set spy thriller The Avenging Silence, which was written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the screenwriting duo who penned six Bond films between 1999 and 2015. 

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