Ryan Gosling : 'I think like a girl'

Ryan Gosling is fast becoming Hollywood's hottest property. It's all down to his feminine side, the Canadian-born actor tells Lesley O'Toole

 

Of late, Hollywood has been pondering the question: "Is Ryan Gosling the new George Clooney?" Clooney both stars in and directs Gosling, 30, in political thriller The Ides of March, the poster for which apes a Time magazine cover in which the pair's faces are not only juxtaposed but morphing directly into each other. So often the mother of reinvention, no wonder Hollywood is confused. So too is Gosling's mother.

"I think the poster is just Clooney showing how much better-looking he is than me," laughs Gosling, "but my mother saw something else entirely. She called me and was so excited, saying, 'You're on the cover of Time magazine!' I had to say, 'No, it's just the poster for the movie, ma'."

Such milestones are not far off since, no disrespect intended to the esteemed Clooney, Gosling is streets and years ahead of his perceived career mentor's standing at the same age. Just 26, the Canadian-born actor received his first Best Actor Academy Award nomination, for his role as a drug-addicted teacher in Half-Nelson. Clooney didn't snare the role which made him famous –TV's ER – until he was 33, and was 44 before he was nominated (and won) in the Best Supporting Actor for 2006's Syriana.

The Ides of March is already garnering its own Oscar buzz and Gosling a buzz all his own as Hollywood's newly anointed leading man under 40. Certainly, there are other pretenders nipping at his ankles (fellow Canadian Ryan Reynolds, and Bradley Cooper, to name but two) but Gosling, for now, is clearly ahead of the rest of the pack-in-waiting, if conflicted about it.

"I'm just so sick of myself. I can't imagine how everyone else feels. And there's just nowhere to go but down really from here. So, hey, it's been nice. It's been real." He laughs hard, puts on his grey, self-designed leather jacket and feigns leaving, with some good reason. In the space of only three months, he has been seen as a ripped lothario who eventually finds love in Crazy, Stupid, Love, the moody disaffected driver of Drive, and now borderline nefarious political press secretary Stephen in The Ides of March. It is not, of course, that Gosling dictates film release dates, but it would be euphemistic to call him anything but "in your face" currently.

Fortunately, his current frequency in film is not to be confused with repetition. The Ides of March proffered Gosling a meatier character role, and an unusually high fear factor. "It scared me for sure. I don't know if you can imagine but it's a very nerve-racking thing to walk into this world, which is right in George's wheelhouse."

Does he have any opinion on the Clooney comparison? Gosling almost spits out his mineral water in disbelief on hearing the line. "Who the, what the?" he laughs, looking genuinely perplexed. "I don't even know what to think about that. Let me get back to you."

He combines his firm but friendly demurral with a huge not-too-fake-white smile and I suddenly understand why every woman I know (and teenage girls galore) are doolally for Gosling. Long-ago-proved acting chops aside, he is handsome but not threateningly so, boyish but not immature, and earnestly, unashamedly in touch with his feminine side.

"I think like a girl, I think," he says, in answer to a question about growing up with his mother and sister (his parents had divorced). Having been bullied at school thanks to his early TV success, Gosling was home-schooled by his mother for a year, which meant an ever greater female presence in his life. "I was literally raised by my mother and my sister. And I just feel like I wouldn't know how to think any other way. My sister was my best friend and my hero growing up. Because I was home-schooled I didn't have a lot of friends and I did ballet, which was always just girls. All of that had an effect on my brain."

Though he insists he has "no free time" currently, when he does, he is often found at a Los Angeles ballet studio. "I practise whenever I can," he says, without a modicum of embarrassment.

Have myriad LA mums not spread the word as to exactly where Hollywood's latest heart-throb can be readily observed putting in his pliés? He seems not really to have considered the prospect.

"A lot of the students are young girls so they're there with their mums but they just kind of watch and tell me to keep it up. They try and be positive but I'm so bad. I don't even know what I like about it but it's like acting, I'm just compelled to do it and I do it to find out why. The not knowing is interesting."

It may be a reaction to the burgeoning attention he can no longer fend off, but at other times Gosling already speaks like a politician and admits to being even more fascinated by the political world since wetting his feet for The Ides of March.

"It's not that I see this particularly as a political film or something with a political message. It really is just a thriller set in a political arena. It could just as easily have been in Hollywood or on Wall Street. But the research was so interesting. I learned a lot. I met some politicians, I had a lot of help and I needed it."

He says the parallels between Hollywood and politics have since become glaringly obvious. "It's very hard to be honest in both jobs. You can't really tell the truth because everything you say is taken out of context and cut up. You just have to be careful what you say."

I mention a recent interview in which he apparently claimed he'd be retiring from acting within the next decade. He sighs deeply, almost without realising it. "That's exactly what I'm talking about. What I said was that I've been acting since I was 12 [he starred alongside Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera in the children's TV series The Mickey Mouse Club] and I've been feeling very creative lately but that I can't see myself maintaining that pace or doing this for the rest of my life. I really can see directing becoming a big part of my life."

Like Clooney, Gosling's early years are deeply cemented in TV, though he says he felt all along "that there would be a place for me somewhere in the film biz". It wasn't until 2004 that he hit pay dirt with nostalgic romance The Notebook opposite fellow Canadian and then girlfriend Rachel McAdams. He previously dated Sandra Bullock – they met on 2002's Murder by Numbers – and is now dating Eva Mendes, his co-star on The Place Beyond the Pines, which he recently completed for director Derek Cianfrance. Cianfrance also directed Gosling in last year's much-acclaimed Blue Valentine, and he professes a desire to work again with directors he has established a shorthand with.

"The Place Beyond the Pines was the best experience I have ever had making a film. It's because Derek and I now have one film behind us and a history. We can talk to each other in a way we never could before so Pines is an evolution. I feel like I've been dating all these film-makers and now I just want to get married."

He will also reteam with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn for the upcoming remake of Logan's Run but says, contrary to reports, babies are not next on his agenda. "Out of context too. I was saying that genetically we are programmed to have certain instincts and if you're not fulfilling those instincts, they can manifest themselves creatively."

With Gosling now booked up for months, does he not find the prospect claustrophobic? Actors, after all, are wont to espouse the benefits of time of and living life as acting enhancements.

"I've never booked myself up like this. I used to make a film every year or two. A week after I finished The Place Beyond the Pines, I started on my current film Gangster Squad [with Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone]. We'll see. I may come to regret it but I just want to be making films right now. The opportunities are so great I don't want just to be hanging out. I feel like this is the time for me to be productive."

Gosling can sometimes be spotted at Disneyland, as he was last month in the company of Mendes. "I have a love/hate relationship with Disneyland but what's so interesting to me is that the attention to detail there never gets old. There's always something new to find, something they've thought of. And there is always the idea of somebody who had a dream and made it so real you can walk around in it. "

Gosling's own interesting dream is, it seems, only just beginning.

'The Ides of March' is released on Friday

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there