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Stars I Love: Ryan Gosling

Art Streiber New York Magazine
How do you describe an actor like Ryan Gosling? I've unceremoniously given him the nickname Canadian sugarcube, but that's just me and my massive crush talking. (The Twelve Days of Ryan Gosling is up to two threads on twitter and has only just begun...) But critics have called him one of the best actors of his generation, while almost anyone familiar with The Gos calls him charming, talented, smart, personable - and a million things more. Settle into your onesie and spike your coffee -  in celebration of his birthday, we're digging into the charisma of his career and what makes him so lovable. Or, all of the reasons why he's one of my favorite stars - if not my TOP favorite.

Gosling didn't grow up in the front of the world as scrupulously like other Disney Stars or the Harry Potter cast, but he came pretty close. He's been the face of every kind of famous in and out of Hollywood. Early in his teens, he started out as a dancer on a Canadian star search (which was a vicious business) before getting cast alongside little-known stars Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera on a reboot of The Mickey Mouse Club.

After getting the boot by the mouse and joined other children's shows, he slowly broke out of the pack into films with Remember The Titans (a quarterback in a football team struggling with racial integration) and The Believer (as a Jewish teen who becomes a Neo-Nazi). Then in 2004, The Notebook, an epic Nicholas Sparks love affair set in the 1940s, became a romantic-drama of the 20th century and put its stars on the map. His on and off-screen whirling romance with co-star Rachel McAdams marked him permanently in every person's ultimate fantasy. He went from relative unknown to charming the hearts of women everywhere, cemented as boyfriend goals in cinema forever.

As his career unfolded, so did an expected maturity on-screen. He morphed around genres in a very weird way, finding a home in a variety of psychological thrillers like Murder by Numbers (2002) and Fracture (2007) to period flicks like Gangster Squad (2013) and dramedies like The Big Short (2016). Here and there he managed to show his versatility in off-beat indies earning his first Academy Award nomination as a middle school teacher with substance abuse in Half Nelson (2006). And then delighted audiences as a small-town recluse in Lars and the Real Girl (2007), only to become a heartthrob in Crazy Stupid Love (2011) and an enigmatic stunt driver Drive (2011). In 2014, he even dabbled in writing and directing Lost River, a fantasy project which critics said showed his promise as filmmaker but overall didn't get rave reviews. The "blunder" wasn't a huge blow since his commitment to roles  continued to pleased film critics enough to not bury him, and he's still gone on to make impressing movies, becoming more than just a pretty face.


If you were to look at his career as a whole, it's hard to pin down his type of roles. He's not as easy to box into a type except maybe the usual guy who struggles with what's going on under the surface. His work so far carries a few staples like wearing jackets that should be as famous as he is and almost breaking character in scenes by laughing. But, the variety of what he's done often reminds me of Gene Wilder, who Gosling has said is like his Marlon Brando.

The legendary Wilder exuded a warmth and vulnerability; he could make you laugh and break your heart at the same time in certain scenes; a career that couldn't be defined by one genre or another. Despite 'being famous' since he was a young kid,  Gosling had a very small-town kind of upbringing, living in a trailer park while working at Disney, which only seems to add to his aversion of the Hollywood lifestyle.
My dad worked at a papermill. My mom was a secretary. You just worked for money. I never knew anyone who liked their job. . .Acting was the first thing I realized I would do it for free. You could do something you enjoy. I try to recreate that experience to work on things that I like. I also want to give people their money's worth. People work hard for their money, they go to the movies, you want to give them something they hadn't seen a million times - (x)
For a while, circa mid-2000s, he was getting a reputation as the next method actor after Heath Ledger. And it's easy to understand why - he's willing to go through a lot of lengths for his roles: living in a tent for a month, building furniture from scratch, and learning complicated jazz pianist scores by memorizing how his coach's movements. The media has sometimes portrayed him as having an issue with doing big blockbusters, but he's openly supported that it just takes a different type of acting to make superhero movies. And that his "method" way to get into character isn't a symptom of being 'a tortured artist'; he just puts a lot of work into the films he wants to be apart of.

one of the most iconic interviews in talk show history if you ask me

Yet, he's a pretty laidback, funny guy. Over the years I think he's found the balance between his dedication to roles versus becoming consumed by them. No matter whether people are big fans of his movies or not, he always seems to win everyone over.

In interviews, he's supremely private about his family and personal relationships. Anyone in the world is aware that he and Eva Mendez are together with two little daughters, but in any type of public forum they divert those questions and attention. Keeping his family close to the vest has always been a goal of his.
In any other situation a perfect stranger came up to you asking intimate questions about your personal life, you'd knock him out....It's out of line, it's disrespectful to the girl that you're with, people want to know the intimate details about these women because people have some sick need to know, and I'm not going to facilitate that, and it makes it hard to do your job. People want to know so much about you, it makes it hard to sell them characters. (x)
When Gosling is on a promotional tour though, he genuinely seems to create great relationships with everyone. Interviews and promos, from director Nicolas Winding RefnGeorge ClooneyEmma Stone, and Russell Crowe and Harrison Ford, are worth the price of admission before the movie even comes out. And he manages to subvert any questions about his off-screen life by sharing hilarious stories of his not-so-perfect experiences: like having a horrible Turkish massage where his tongue goes to investigate a hairy belly, sharing an awkward Oscars moment with Chris Rock and trying not to kill Gene Kelly's widow's dog.

10 Times Ryan Gosling Charmed The Pants Off of Life

If there's a list of the nicest people in Hollywood, Gosling is definitely at the top. The news and rumors of his kindness goes on and on and this doesn't even scratch the surface.

+ The time he felt he was going steady with his pants 'cause he didn't try on a suit before an interview. And that he knows you can't wear the same suit twice, 'cause it's like spitting in fashion's face

+  He thought Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty calling out La La Land instead of Moonlight for Best Picture at the Oscars was about something much more dire like a heartattack or injury.

+ He got super serious and hysterical about teaching Jimmy Kimmel the waltz.

+ When Jimmy Kimmel invited tourists in the middle of the Oscars Ceremony, Gosling gave his candy away and greeted them, standing up to shake their hand and chat.

+ He tried to make Girl Scout's dreams come true by buying all of their cookies...and then realized he wasn't the Santa Clause he imagined he was

+ He became the face of the Hey Girl meme from Fuck Yeah Ryan Gosling and has been pretty chill about it. The meme also inspired Feminist Ryan Gosling, which is as equally important.

+ His sister Mandy made black emblems for herself and Ryan to wear and honor Heath Ledger at the 2008 Screen Actors Guild awards

+ Gosling brought his beloved dog George to an interview on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. When George passed away, he revealed the necklace he wears is George's tags to keep him close.

+ Who says celebrities can't be superheros? He stepped in on a street fight in NYC and stopped a journalist from getting hit by a car.

+ Vine creator Ryan McHenry made a series of videos with Gosling not eating his cereal. After McHenry passed away from bone cancer, Gosling made a tribute to him eating cereal and tweeted his condolences. His friends thanked Gosling for the tribute, saying it was a fitting way to send-off their friend and it was something McHenry always talked about.

Gosling is apart of a eclectic mix of actors who are handsome but are much more than what they appear. On-screen, he's played a variety of characters, of which critics expect a lot out of him, and in the industry, garnered a lot of peers who have nothing but the nicest things to say. AND, sure, he can pull off any aesthetic imaginable. I KNOW I've tried to find one time he's looked hideous, but NO: there's the hipster, super tight business suits, on and off the red carpet, petting dogs on the street, jet lagged, pumping gas wearing a ridiculous t-shirttrying to remain under the radar with his goddess of a partner Eva Mendes. He is cuteness overload personified, and he's also smart, down-to-earth, and looking to make good movies. There's a lot of things people and Hollywood can call him, but I'll just go with a damn fine actor and a unicorn in human form.

SPECIAL SHOUT-OUT and THANK YOU: To all the tweeters who accepted me invading their feeds: Betsy, Nikhat, Anuja, Kayli, Margaret, Brittani, Mettel, Sofia and I'm sorry if I missed anyone else.

Five Six Seven 'Let's Be Honest This Could've Been

Ten' Favorite Movies

Crazy Stupid Love

For as good as he is in dramas, Gosling has a true knack for comedy. His love of improvising has subtly given a lot of his movies great moments and adds to his timing and delivery. For Crazy Stupid Love, he plays a Lothario who gives a husband in a crisis advice for hitting on women, and ends up falling in love with a girl who sees him for more than his gorgeous eyes and great abs....*sorry distracted* SOOOOO. Yeah.

Saturday Night Live

This pick isn't a movie, but I'm counting it as a series of great performances. Sometimes when your favorite star hosts SNL, it can be a hit or miss. When Ryan Gosling hosts, everyone watches if they can - specifically to see how many times he's going to break character. But other than that, his gigs are never pretentious; they usually harbor a warped sense of humor, which makes them even funnier. Some of my faves: The First Close EncounterSanta BabyBirthday Party, Santa and the Elves, Henrietta and the Fugitive.

Blue Valentine

Films often explore the experience of falling in love as a little too picturesque, sometimes not revealing the cracks of what can make those times tough and irreconcilable. The stages of love has never been displayed so innocently and savagely as in Blue Valentine. After years of being in development and preparing for their roles, Gosling and Michelle Williams play a couple over the span of six years from head-over-heels to a vicious, disintegrating marriage. It's ugly, perhaps a little too much so, but with the material largely improvised, his performance ranges from naive and considerate young man to an irritating and violent drunk - one that stunningly did not earn him a second Academy Award nomination he deserved.

Half Nelson

Heartbreaking, intense, funny, hopeful, depressing are just a few words to describe Half Nelson, a film about a teacher who can't hide his crack addiction from a young student Drey (played by the highly underrated  Shareeka Epps) who finds out his secret. Acting as her mentor, confidante, and rude awakening to her own family's drug ring, Gosling brings a certain lost charisma, humor, and depth to Dan, giving a deeply natural portrayal of someone who's humor and honesty masks a deeply rooted pension for self-destruction. This performance earned him his first of two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (the other for La La Land).

Blade Runner 2049

In the long-awaited sequel to Blade Runner, Harrison Ford had one guy in mind to carry the film's legacy forward and that was Gosling. It's difficult to imagine anybody else as the replicant Agent K who's having an identity crisis which could bring down the wall between androids and humans, aka masters and slaves. Gosling possesses a certain fragile determination as he goes on a quest, struggling to accept the android he was made to be and a soul he wishes he has. (Full review for this is coming soon!) *crossing my fingers this is his third nomination*

Drive

A Hollywood stunt driver by day and a get-away driver by night, we know one thing's for sure: the Driver drives. But, there's one thing we don't know: why he wasn't nominated for Best Actor. While maintaining a certain level of self-possession in this role, Gosling's anti-hero starts out as quiet, on the verge of straight-out creepy. And, then he develops feelings for a neighbor Irene and her son, emoting a quiet sense of admiration and care. Then her husband lands them in dangerous, hot water for which the Driver tries to get them out of. His unassuming nature turns so precisely violent, cinema should never forget his absolutely chilling outbursts of bloodshed.

Lars and the Real Girl

Through the grapevine this movie is just known as the guy who falls in love with a sex doll. But he doesn't actually fall in love with a sex doll in a creepy, cheap way. Beautifully written by Nancy Oliver, Lars is a socially stunted, recluse who develops a relationship with an anatomically correct doll to deal with a difficult family history, a permeating isolation and loneliness. Healthy loving emotions, friendships, and intimacy are difficult concepts for Lars, and becomes something that his whole town helps him understand and accept through Bianca. Not only does the whole cast and director treat the story with care, but Gosling plays Lars with cripplingly introvertedness and a heartfelt sensitivity that "the movie with a sex doll" is nothing you'd expect about love in the best ways possible.

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