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INT: Ryan Gosling

04.18.2007

Ryan Gosling has had a good year. His critically acclaimed performance recently earned him an Oscar nomination and he won and Independent Spirit Award for HALF NELSON (among other awards and nominations). Before that, he had garnered critical praise for THE BELIEVER. This is an up and coming actor who seems to have finally found his career on the fast track. For a young man who started in ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?, GOOSEBUMPS and part of the MICKEY MOUSE CLUB alongside Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. His work has become very well respected, earning him a major role opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins in FRACTURE. The power hungry lawyer he portrays finds a moral dilemma in the case of Mr. Hopkins who just shot his wife as the movie poster suggests.

With all this success, Ryan Gosling was nothing like what I expected him to be. When he stopped by the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills , he was soft spoken and very kind. He spoke highly of working with the dude who played Lecter and he also spoke highly of the opportunities that have come his way. There was nothing egotistical or pretentious, just a very straight forward man who is trying to make the world a better place. And by this, he spoke of his work outside of acting in a matter of fact way, not so much a ‘look at me, I help people’ kind of way. I have the feeling that he would do his good deeds without anybody knowing if he could. This is a far cry from his character in FRACTURE, and thankfully, a welcome one. Read on and you’ll also find out a little about having a sex doll as an on-screen partner. See… it’s not all serious.

Ryan Gosling

We heard that the first they came to you with this film you passed and said “Thanks but no thanks.” Who wears whom down eventually?

I don’t really know how it happened. I think there was a long period of time between from when I read it the first time to when I read it the second time, and [the character] had gone several incarnations and so had I. I think a lot of scripts depend on how you feel when you read them and you have to try to protect how you will feel when you make them. I’ve never been good at doing that. I’ve never even been able to plan a few projects ahead, but I just don’t know how I’m going to feel after the movie I just made, and if I’m still going to be in that place to want to do it. I read the script the second time and I liked it. I like this genre. I just haven’t seen a good version of it in a long time. I wanted to try my hand at it, but I knew I was going to need help. When I found out that Anthony [Hopkins] was involved, I thought, well you can’t have a better partner than that. And Greg [Hoblit] did “Primal Fear” and then there is David Strathairn It just seemed like there were all these elements and we had the potential to make something really interesting – a good version of it.

You play a cocky, self-confident kind of guy in this movie. Do you have part of that character in you, especially now, or are you loaded with self doubt?

I have all those things in me. I have unattractive qualities as well. I think with acting is that you can indulge them. You get to delve into them and not be judgmental about them. In some ways you get to exercise them and maybe exhaust them. You know I was sick of me by the end of this movie. I liked the character because you know in these kinds of movies the lead character is very virtuous and just a natural hero, and I just thought this guy just wasn’t a good guy. He’s the good guy in the movie but he’s not really good. He’s just not bad and that’s fine with him. As long as he’s not bad he’s fine.

But he’s naturally a pretty narcissistic, selfish guy – superficial. He reminded me of some agents that I’ve met; the kind of guy that you’re not really sure if he’s faking his accent or not. Maybe he’s pushing it a little harder because he thinks it might work. And I thought if he was put in a situation, if he lets this woman die for a promotion, then he’s officially going to be a bad guy, and that’s something he’s not ready to be. But he does the bare minimum and reluctantly goes down this path. Doing the right thing is kind of a pain in the ass for him. I felt that in a way that was more realistic than if it was in him to be naturally heroic.

Whose idea was the accent?

I guess it was mine, but [the character] was southern. We had a choice [between] a guy who was trying to lose it and a guy who would work it a little bit. And I figured he would be that kind of guy.

You’ve had a pretty good year [with you recent Academy Award nomination]. How have things changed for you?

I guess they’ve changed in that I get asked that question a lot more. I have more opportunities than I used to. But with that comes a certain responsibility to do more of those opportunities that you can. It’s easier in a way. It’s all equal but when you’re just starting out, any opportunity you can take, that you get because it’s your only opportunity. It’s an easy choice. But when you have more of them, then you really have to think about what opportunity is going to take you down the road you want to go to, and you have more choice about which road you go down. There is a responsibility that comes with that but it’s one that I’m happy to have, and I’ve worked really hard to get to so it’s been really nice. My family is still so excited. My whole family went nuts [about my nomination]. My mother, she’s gone a little insane.

Were they more excited than you were about the nomination?

You can’t pick who is best and what is best, it’s all just subjective. It is what it is, but it means a lot to a lot of people, like the people who love me and who I love. And being a part of some kind of celebration that is really for your family is a great thing. And it ended up being a great time. My uncle, who was always so great and supportive of me even when I was getting in all sorts of trouble as kid, he was so emotional. It’s really a nice thing to be a part of something that makes that many people that happy.

[During the awards] when Forest [Whitaker] and Helen [Mirren] were such front runners, was there less pressure on you?

Yeah, I never had to worry about having to do anything. I just go collect the gift bag, enjoy the food, smile for the camera. It was easy.

How was the gift bag?

It was alright. I guess this year they kind of tamed them down, which is good ultimately.

With your character you’re playing this a-hole basically, was that a challenge? Did you know someone personally that you based this character on?

You see guys like this all the time in this town, in their cars. In a way it was fun. It’s fun to go into those places within yourself. I think also living in this town, some of that rubs off on you. It’s really hard to fight it. There is a lot of erosion that takes place in this town. In a way I think it’s fun to do an extreme version of things that you are afraid of becoming.

Any other things you are doing to try not to become someone you don’t to be?

I don’t’ know. I’m trying to stay focused on the work that I’m doing and do the best and the most with the opportunities that I have.

Greg said he called his wife after the jailhouse interrogation scene and said, I can die a happy man. [Can you talk about] specifically that scene and breaking down with Anthony and where that fell in the production schedule.

I think it was a week into it, but I could be wrong. It was a big moment for me. You have a lottery, and every actor would enter it, to sit down at a table with Anthony Hopkins and to do the scene. I did a lot of labor breathing, and mantras, and trying to keep myself from going crazy, and trying to forget I was doing a scene with Anthony Hopkins, and just go in and do a scene. I wasn’t trying to get into some kind of “act off” with him but in a way it’s difficult because I’m such a fan of his that I’m always watching him and enjoying what he’s doing.

In the film, all the characters seem to be keeping other people at arms length, both professionally and personally, so was there a lot of rehearsal or discussion off-set because your characters are so at odds, or was more like dive in?

We had discussions, but Anthony really doesn’t like to rehearse and I don’t either so that was fine by me. It’s cool that you point that out. It’s not what the film is about but it is an interesting quality to the film that apathy is so rampant throughout every character. Every character that is in a position of power is so jaded that they are just numb and they’re not helping the people they are supposed to be helping anymore. And no matter what their intentions were for getting into it, they’re different now. Every person that he goes to is just numb.

You mentioned you were a big fan of Anthony’s, was there anything he did to try to remove that intimidation?

Anthony hates it when you take things too seriously. I’m the biggest victim of that. I can take myself and everything else way too seriously. And he will start barking like a dog.

Anthony was doing that during his interview.

And you thought it was a dog?

Yes.

That’s what I mean. He’s so good at everything he does. He sounds like a dog. He meows like a cat. He was telling the story of how he was on “Elephant Man” and he just thought everyone was being so pretentious, oh the Elephant Man, this is so important. So he started meowing like a cat, but so that no one could tell [it was him]. So for an hour had everyone on set looking for the cat. There were [production assistants] on the roofs looking for the cat. He’s just standing there and he’s was just loving it. Finally David Lynch catches him laughing and he’s like, you son of bitch.

Do you have a lot of great stories like that?

I have a lot of stories. He’s everything you could hope for. He’s so inclusive. He brings you right in. He’s always there if you need to talk to him about anything. If you need advice for a scene and want to know what he thought about it, he’ll tell you. He’s a fascinating guy to watch. He never stops. He’s painting. He’s directing. He’s writing. He’s composing. He never stops.

It says in the press kit that you got the script after you were living in a tent for two weeks. Can you explain that?

I can’t really, it’s a long story but I was living in a tent for a little while and I read the script while I was in it.

You are involved in a lot of third world charities.

I’m not so much involved in the charity work so much as I’ve had some experiences that have become part of my life and part of my personal interests. Two years ago I went to the Darfur refugee camps in Chad and I was shooting a little piece of a documentary on the conditions in the camps. And I think with anybody who goes to Africa, the experience never leaves, certainly the kids don’t. It was there that I learned of the whole phenomenon of child soldiers and night commuters, and this whole situation in Uganda of a 20 year conflict, with 30,000 kids abducted and 1.5 million removed from their homes.

It’s gruesome. It’s like a Grimm’s brothers fairy tale, you can’t believe it. I for myself, I need to know what I was hearing was true. It’s a great thing about this job, that you have the luxury to go to places like this and have access to people who have made this their life’s work. I’ve been sitting down with people who have been involved for the twenty years. I get to learn from them and spend time with them, and then I’m given a platform to talk about those experiences. Some people find it irritating but I don’t think we have a choice. If you see those things and you’re given the opportunity to talk about them, you have to.

Can you tell us a little about some of your upcoming films?

“Lars and the Real Girl” is a film that will come out in October. It’s sort of in the vein of a Hal Ashby movie, sort of “Being There” or “Harold and Maude”. It’s this really beautiful love story about a guy who’s completely in love with a sex doll and believes that she is real and has a whole love affair with her. It’s this really unique kind of movie that I can’t really describe and is something that I can’t wait for people to see.

Are you learning a lot from the sex doll? Like you did from Anthony Hopkins?

Absolutely! [Laughter] It’s different. I hadn’t thought about that comparison.

And there is another movie you’re making now, or you just finished?

That’s the film I’m working on about the conflict in the North, that I’m going to direct and that I wrote about the child soldiers. It’s called “The Lords of Resistance”.

The movie “Blood Diamond” had subplot about the child soldiers, but it really is a important issue.

I’m glad that [Blood Diamond] creates an awareness, but it’s such a deep story and goes to so many places. It’s so fascinating and I learned so much about it. You could make a hundred movies about child soldiers and they would all be different, and fascinating, and important.

How much of these things that you do take up your life? You’re making movies and traveling and seeing these things, is it hard? Does it balance you, or does it complicate things for your personal life per say?

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel really lucky that I can go from extreme to extreme. I find that it helps me find some middle ground. I was in Uganda and then 2 days later I was sitting in the Academy Awards.

Which is more satisfying?

It’s not about either one of them. It just gives me a kind of perspective that I feel lucky to have. It’s all about this job, if you use it right.

You overall said you like more intense movies, not too many comedies in your resume. Is that just what you are drawn to?

I was younger. I was full of angst. I was anger. I watched too many James Dean movies. I’m getting older and my feelings about things are different. I love comedies. When I was a kid I grew up on Abbot and Costello movies. Those things are masterpieces and they are really funny. It’s ballet. “Hold that Ghost” is so funny and scary at the same time. They’re so rich. I don’t think that the things I read are very funny. But I read this movie “Lars and the Real Girl” and I loved it. It made me laugh all the time.

But it wasn’t trying to be funny. It is the situation that’s funny. The setup is funny. It is funny what is happening but this guy is taking it completely seriously. I think things like that are great. Kind of like the Gene Wilder world, where he is so serious about it that it’s funny. It’s fun because it’s uncomfortable and it challenges you. It pushes on something. I don’t want to do just these dark depressing indies because I don’t think they are that realistic. Life isn’t that bleak but neither is it as happy as Hollywood would like to present it. I think there needs to be some middle ground and I guess that is what I’m trying to find.

Was it an inspiration to work with David Strathairn considering he’s made a number of films with John Sayles that are important and bold?

I love David so much. He’s so funny. He’s such a funny guy. You don’t know, I laugh just thinking about him.

Any barking from David?

No, he’s just so smart. He can be so dark. It’s great. But there is not enough of him in this movie. There is not enough of him in any movie. Even in “Good Night and Good Luck”, there should be more David.

You won the Independent Spirit Award and you gave that great speech about how your agents and managers had given up on making any money off of you. Are they feeling any better about you at this point?

I couldn’t work with better people. A lot of the stuff that I do doesn’t pay so they all take pay cuts or do things for free. My lawyer did a bunch of jobs initially for free; he’ll only take money when I make money. They’re really just great and they are so supportive of me. And even way back, my agent offered me money just not to take [non-acting] jobs and because she hated to see me do things that I didn’t want to do. I have that support around me and that is totally unique for this town. I didn’t take [the money] but that’s the kind of person she is and they don’t care if I ever work again.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to jimmyo@joblo.com.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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