Ol' blue eyes is back: Ryan Gosling's leading role in Blue Valentine has been a long time coming

Ryan Gosling burst into the public consciousness playing the pretty boy heartthrob in the weepy mega-hit The Notebook, but it's as a man who has trouble with women that he's getting all the awards acclaim.

The Canadian-born actor's latest nomination is for a Best Actor Golden Globe for his turn as frustrated husband Dean in the relationship drama Blue Valentine. Playing his wife is Michelle Williams, in a story that juxtaposes the start and end of a relationship. The young Dean is Gosling as the pretty heartthrob who has been lighting up our screens since appearing in The Mickey Mouse Club – but to play the aged Dean, the actor put on weight, grew an unkempt beard and was given a receding hairline.

Gosling could easily have walked into a series of high-paying romantic lead roles on the back of the success of The Notebook, but instead he chose to pursue projects where he had a greater affinity to the characters.

Half Nelson saw him garner an Oscar nomination for his turn as a drug-addicted school teacher. It's rare for a young actor in a low-budget independent picture to get Oscar notice, but he was impossible to ignore as he wandered the streets looking for his next score. Then came the quirky romantic drama Lars and the Real Girl in which Gosling falls in love with a sex doll. In both films, his characters are frustrated at being misunderstood by their peers.

In Blue Valentine Dean is frustrated because his wife no longer shows affection towards him. The 30-year-old actor has been attached to the picture since 2005 and it's easy to see why he waited patiently for the movie to come together, even as writer/ director, Derek Cianfrance, worked on 67 versions of the script.

Gosling, who has blue eyes in the mould of Paul Newman, puts his faith and desire to make the film down to his affinity with the director. "He's pretty rad!" says the Canadian. "When I read the script I thought it was amazing, but I thought I was too young for the older part. I thought I could do the young part, the falling in love, but the dad stuff I was concerned about. Derek was like, 'Okay, let's shoot the young part now and six years from now, let's shoot the part where you're married with a kid'. Who was this guy who was willing to wait six years to shoot the rest of the movie? I knew I had to work with him."

The picture was originally going to be shot in 2008, but was delayed as Williams coped with the death of Heath Ledger, the father of her child. In the end the gap between shooting the "younger" and "older" scenes was only six months. By the time cameras started to roll, Gosling had become the leading actor of his generation and – something far more pertinent to the role – he had begun to have a greater understanding of relationships.

Gosling had a high-profile relationship with his co-star in The Notebook, Rachel McAdams. The couple dated for three years until February 2007 in a match that seemed to have been made in Hollywood heaven. He had previously gone out with Sandra Bullock, who he met on the set of Murder by Numbers in 2001. Since the break-up with McAdams, Gosling has been constantly linked with a string of actresses, including Blake Lively and his co-star Williams, yet perhaps learning from the media craze that surrounded his relationship with McAdams, he's yet to officially confirm any as his main squeeze.

"It's hard to be objective about yourself, but you have to be in interviews," he says of the media interest in his life and relationships. "It's like a song that comes on and you have to dance; there are lots of songs that get played, but this one you have to move to. I think I've been through more relationships now than I had when I made The Notebook. So I've got a different perspective on relationships and what romance is."

Relationships are a lot tougher than any young man thinks they will be – and it's a lesson that Gosling has learned the hard way. "They're not like they are in the movies, that's for sure. Although Blue Valentine's trying to do its best."

He says he put a lot of his own relationship experiences into Dean. "It made me think about everything. When you're making a movie like this you wrack your brain to think about your experiences. I had five years to think about it. I had a Blue Valentine file in my brain, so every time something happened in my life or someone else's life, I would ear-mark it and put it in the file."

This meant that Gosling, who also serves as an executive producer on the film, got to add his own dialogue. The director encouraged both his stars to improvise and one of the most pertinent and controversial lines that Gosling added is that, "Guys are more romantic than girls."

Does he really believe that? "You know, I change my mind every day," he says. "That day, I believed it."

The answer seems like a cop out, so I press Gosling further about what he sees as the difference between male and female attitudes to relationships. "Well, I think we're not planning our weddings from the time that we're six," he explains. "We're putting them off as long as we can, and I think we get married for different reasons."

Again he pulls back a little by adding, "I'm just generalising really. I think everybody's different, but I think the approach worked for the character."

Blue Valentine also sees Gosling play a father. He and Williams struggle to raise a young girl (Faith Wladyka), and the actor admits it was a struggle. "I don't really like kids! I don't," he emphasises. "Faith is different; she's not a jerk. Most kids never even ask how you're doing; it's all about them all the time. But Faith is a really polite, smart, funny person."

The actor looks impeccable when we meet, dressed in a shirt and blue jeans, but he argues that he doesn't really care about his image; such has been the attention of the paparazzi on him in recent years that he's given up trying to look good all the time. "There are so many pictures of me that it's impossible to look good in all of them. I gave that up a long time ago."

One of the most popular series of pictures of Gosling are a collection on the internet, in which images of the heartthrob have been posted with hilarious romantic slogans purportedly being spouted by the actor.

Although Gosling refuses to bow to the pressure of the paparazzi, that's not to say he's not a sucker for fashion; he admits that he kept the blue suit that Dean wears on his wedding day. "I found that suit in a thrift store," says Gosling proudly. "I found it two days before we got married [in the movie]. I'd picked another suit to wear, but I wasn't happy with it, so I went out all day in New York, just going to all these thrift stores. I found it two days before, right in the fourth quarter."

This year will see Gosling move away from romantic dramas as he tries his hand at action and comedy. He says of the comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love, "I think I needed to do a comedy for my own well being. It's with Steve Carell and it's about a dad whose life goes into crisis as his marriage unravels and his relationship with his children goes haywire."

But it's the action movie, Drive, that seems to most arouse the actor. "It's directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and I think he has something new up his sleeve. I'm kind of an action hero, but not in the big action movie sense. It's based on this novella called Drive, which is kind of like Michael Mann's Thief. They don't make films like this very much anymore, like French Connection or Bullitt – character-driven action films, rather than action-driven."

Now here's the rub and the nature of modern-day Hollywood; it was Gosling who gave Refn the part rather than the other way round. "I read the script and I wanted Nicolas. I saw the Pusher movies and I was like, 'that's the guy that I want to work with'."

When I ask if Gosling likes having that kind of power, he immediately responds, "Yeah! It's nice to be able to come onto a film, sometimes before there's a film-maker, so you can try and figure out who you would like."

And if Gosling continues to put in the type of performance he does in Blue Valentine, it's a sure bet that studios will continue throwing scripts his way, hoping that he'll want to put his considerable talent into them. It's not a bad place to be for anyone who has just turned 30.

'Blue Valentine' is out tomorrow

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment


film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most