Atsushi Nishijima/Focus Features

A Director’s Dreamboat: 7 Smitten Filmmakers on Working With Ryan Gosling


Since Ryan Gosling announced that he’ll be taking a break from acting, prompting the heartbreak of fangirls everywhere, we’ve been urged to get it together and stop being silly about the actor. But with today’s release of his latest movie, The Place Beyond the Pines, Gosling’s not going anywhere just yet. Flavorwire’s own Jason Bailey spoke to the film’s director, Derek Cianfrance (who also directed Blue Valentine), about how working with Gosling “felt like destiny.” As we suspected, the actor is also “a magic person.” Cianfrance added, “I feel like he makes the world a better place, and he makes the movie, when you’re making the movie with him, a better movie… he makes me a better filmmaker.” Here are a few other directors’ fond reminiscences of working with Gosling – it’s possible that they’ll miss him even more than we will.

George Clooney, The Ides of March

When a reporter from TIME asks George Clooney why he didn’t cast Johnny Depp or Sean Penn for the role of his character’s political protégée in his directorial debut, he quips that Gosling was “cheaper.” Also, he felt bad for the guy, since he hadn’t been in much lately – you know, except for Drive… and Crazy. Stupid. Love. – but really, he had the actor in mind for the part all along. “I liked him, he’s smart,” Clooney said.

Craig Gillespie, Lars and the Real Girl

Gillespie was instantly impressed with Gosling’s aptitude for getting into character “so easily,” and his ability to effortlessly convey emotion. “I just saw his face and the way he would process his thoughts; there was this innocence and this openness to him… I knew he would be fearless,” Gillespie told the Independent . And the relationship between actor and director was accordingly intensive: “We started meeting three months before we started shooting,” Gillespie said, to “go through every scene and what his character is going through, what his character thought, and what his reality was.”

Glen Ficcara and John Requa, Crazy. Stupid. Love.

“It’s actually a great story,” Requa told Movieline , as though beginning the story of a meet-cute, “The one person in the world that no one would expect who suggested Ryan was the president of the studio. ‘Do you guys like Ryan Gosling?’ We said, ‘Well, of course we like Ryan Gosling.'” So they met with him, and he was all they’d dreamed of, “he was fiercely funny, and we had a great time. He is fiercely smart as well.” Ficcara chips in: “He had me at hello. He walks into the room and within five seconds I’m like, ‘This is our guy.’ He oozes charm. And he’s a very physically imposing guy, too. He’s over six feet. He’s smart. He’s very smart. One of the smartest actors we’ve ever worked with.” Oh, and he’s a terrific actor. “I think he really elevated the character from… an archetype to a real personalized, complex human being,” Ficcara adds. OK, we get it, he’s wonderful.

Nick Cassavetes, The Notebook

Sure, there are better Ryan Gosling films, but The Notebook undeniably marked a key transition in his career. It turned an actor who had previously played outsider – and sometimes all-out psycho – roles, into a viable dreamboat. It turns out Cassavetes wanted to cast him as Noah because, as the HuffPost quoted Gosling, the director told him, “You’re not handsome, you’re not cool, you’re just a regular guy who looks a bit nuts.” Unthinkable!

Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson

Asked how easy it was to persuade Gosling to star in Half Nelson, its director replied, “It was a big accident, I don’t know how he got a hold of the script.” And when Gosling’s agents called Fleck and co-writer Anna Boden, their first reaction was: “Who’s Ryan Gosling?” Of course, they would find out soon – and Gosling would be the best mistake they could make. Finally meeting the actor, though skeptical of his age (they had wanted someone older), Fleck told IndieLondon that “there was something about [Gosling’s] presence that felt much older about him than his actual 24 years…it felt like…he had been through something. That was the most important thing, and Ryan definitely feels – when you meet him – like he’s got some kind of secret past that he’s hiding.”

Nicholas Winding Refn, Drive

When I interviewed Refn about Drive – another film where Gosling amps up the mystery in one of his best screen performances – the director practically gushed over Gosling. Working with him “was very easy” and speaking of Gosling and Carey Mulligan, he said, “I was already in love with them separately so I knew it would work as a story… the way that they were working together was just great, they’re great actors, they’re a dole of craftsmanship and respect for each other, being there for each other in scenes.” And with a hint of what might have been fictional jealously – Refn and Gosling even shared a red carpet kiss – he added, “they were a great couple.” When I asked Refn why he chose Gosling as the hero, he lifted an eyebrow over his spectacles and retorted, “Wouldn’t you want to be saved by Ryan Gosling?” Um, yeah, alright then.

Ryan Gosling on working with Ryan Gosling

We figure with How To Catch A Monster in the works, he’s a director now, so it’s totally OK to (figuratively) ask Ryan Gosling what it’s like to work with himself. “All my characters are me,” an IMDb quote reads. “I’m not a good enough actor to become a character. I hear about actors who become the role and I think ‘I wonder what that feels like’. Because for me, they’re all me. I relate to these characters because aspects of their personality are like me. And I just turn up the parts of myself that are them and turn down the parts that aren’t.” Insofar as we can really know any megastar actor – even the super-humble ones – maybe we know more than we think about the inimitable Mr. Gosling.