2013 is going to be a very busy year for Canadian icon, Ryan Gosling. With Gangster Squad due to release in mid-January, and two more films in post production, it’s easy to see why the Ryan Gosling of today radiates the calm of a man with nothing left to prove; missing the self- conscious intensity which used to be his M.O. “I think when I was younger, I was full of angst all of the time,” he says. “I was sitting around, smoking, thinking about the meaning of life and watching too many James Dean movies. Now, I see there’s more to life than those things.”
With his lanky good looks and emotive brow, the Canadian actor had already made a name for himself in The Notebook, won critical acclaim for The Believer and gave an Oscar worthy performance in Half Nelson. Off camera, Gosling’s ‘average Joe’ laid-back attitude gives him folk hero status to many of his fans. In recent times, Ryan Gosling broke up a street fight in NYC that became a Youtube sensation, saved a British journalist from stepping into the path of an oncoming New York cab; started a fund for a 3-year old Ugandan girl named Joyce who had been badly burned by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, and spent several months in Biloxi, Mississippi helping Buddhist monks rebuild a monastery in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The actor does his best to downplay his generosity. “Look, I get just as much out of those situations as I give,” he says. “Biloxi is an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life. It’s such a rich experience. I can’t even put into words that time in my life.”
You cannot get more ‘stand up guy’ than that…
Since his break out role in The Believer (2001), Ryan Gosling has been very choosy about his roles. He originally turned down the role of Willy Beachum in Fracture (2007). “When I first read the screenplay, I was in a different place and so was the script,” he notes. “But I love the thriller genre and, all off a sudden, Anthony Hopkins was involved. I know that I can’t have a better partner than Anthony. Also, [director] Greg Hoblit (Primal Fear) came onboard. I suddenly felt there was a real potential for this movie to be great.”
There are a lot of critics who think Gosling has just as much raw ability as anybody in the business. “[Gosling] burns with so much talent that it’s a challenge to find a project that can sustain his heat,” Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwartzbaum once wrote. That might be a direct result of his upbringing.
Born in London, Ontario and raised by Mormon parents, Gosling grew up in Burlington and Cornwall. His parents divorced and Gosling, who was home-schooled after being involved in a series of playground scuffles, began his film education when he was eight years old by studying vintage movies on video.
“We couldn’t afford to get new movies from the video store so we just got them from the library,” he recalls. “They had a pretty limited selection but I watched everything they had. I got to see some cool stuff.” The video that made the biggest impression on Gosling was, of all things, Hold That Ghost starring Abbott and Costello. I had a completely weird visceral experience watching it,” he remembers. “I was scared and I was laughing and I was crying. It was like ballet, so elegant and masterful and beautifully shot.” Afterwards, Gosling found himself longing for the spotlight.
As a cast member of the Mickey Mouse Club from 1993 to 1995, Ryan performed alongside Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Keri Russell and Justin Timberlake, whose family put a roof over Gosling’s head while he filmed the show. “When I got hired on that show, they thought that I could do more than I actually could. You’d be hard-pressed to find me in that show; I’d come in at the beginning and at the end– sometimes a little something in the middle–but for the most part, I didn’t work very much. I spent the years riding roller coasters and hanging out in Disney World.”
Gosling worked in scores of T.V. shows before nabbing the role of a Neo-Nazi Jew in The Believer. The actor earned rave reviews and the film won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize in 2001. “I didn’t even know they made movies like that,” he insists. “I didn’t know that [kind of acting] could be a job. It really set the bar for the kind of experiences I wanted to have. I’ve just been trying to build on that ever since.”
Having grown up heavily influenced by the females in his life, Ryan Gosling is known for his intense acting methods and genuine love of the craft. Following his lead role in The Notebook, widespread recognition came with his Oscar nominated appearance in Half Nelson, followed by leads in full feature films including Crazy Stupid Love, Drive, Ides Of March, Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines. He’s a big advocate of charities, women’s rights and although romantically involved with Sandra Bullock and Rachel McAdams in the past, Gosling has been dating Eva Mendes since September 2011.
Half Nelson, the film that earned Gosling an Oscar nomination was shot on a $500k budget, and barely earned $2.5 million at the box office. “A lot of my heroes never got nominated so I kind of felt like I blew it at 26,” he says. “But then I didn’t realize how happy it was going to make people in my life. My family was so proud that I decided to take my mom and my sister Mandi with me to the show.”
Gosling enjoyed the ceremony but the biggest thrill, for him, remains Oscar nomination morning. “My mom and my sister were both telling me I was going to get a nomination but I told them they were nuts. When I called my mom and said, ‘Hey, I just got nominated,’ she started screaming and I honestly couldn’t understand what she was saying because she was crying so hard. I had to call back later. I had to give both my mom and my sister time to calm down before I could have a human conversation with them.”
Ryan Gosling is perfectly suited – literally and figuratively – to the tone of his current movie project Gangster Squad. Set in 1940s Los Angeles, the movie was inspired by the true story of Brooklyn Mobster Mickey Cohen (played by Sean Penn), who moves west to take over. Law men Sergeants John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Wooters (Ryan Gosling) make it their mission to stop him. In the process, Grace Faraday (Emma Stone), who is Cohen’s girlfriend, falls for Gosling in a big way. The romantic chemistry between these two actors, which began in Crazy, Stupid, Love carries over nicely into this new project; the love triangle intensifies the story plot. It has all the makings of a blockbuster and will finally have its theatre debut in mid-January.
Now that he’s an Oscar nominated actor with an impressive list of excellent film credits under his belt, Gosling is continually inundated with scripts. True to form, he’s filed most of them in the wastebasket. Clearly, Gosling is still marching to the beat of his own drummer.