Ryan Gosling is one of the rare actors of his generation that still treat this profession with respect, and see it for what it really is: an art, and, above all, hard, hard work, instead of a fast drive to fame nobody knows what to do with. 'The Notebook' actor never comes unprepared, and he understands that what matters most in life is following your own heart.
Ryan Thomas Gosling, as is his full name, was born in Ontario in Canada. His father is Thomas Ray, a travelling salesman for a paper mill, and his mother is Donna, a secretary with a high school teaching qualification. He also has an older sister, Mandi. They are both of English, Scottish and French Canadian ancestry. Gosling’s parents were Mormons and although he says his upbringing was very much influenced by their religion, he could never really identify with Mormonism.
When Gosling was a little boy, the family moved a lot due to his father’s work. When he turned thirteen, his parents divorced and he and his sister continued living with their mother. Gosling had a difficult childhood in the sense that he didn’t enjoy his school years at all. He was bullied as a child. In the first grade, influenced by an action film, he took steak knives to school with him and threw them at other children, which got him suspended. He was also diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and prescribed Ritalin, then placed in a class for special needs students. Finally, his mother quit her job and homeschooled him for a year.
What made Gosling happy was performing. Along with his sister, he sang at weddings and performed at his uncle’s Elvis Presley tribute act. He was also involved in a local ballet company. Interestingly, he began working on remodeling his own accent, and he looked up to Marlon Brando as his inspiration.
When he was twelve, in 1993, he decided to audition in Montreal for the Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club. He was offered, and accepted, a two-year contract, which made him move to Florida. Mickey Mouse Club also helped kick off the careers of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, who were Gosling’s fellow cast members. Gosling even became close friends with Timberlake, with whom he lived together for six months during the second year of his contract, and whose mother became his legal guardian after his mother had to return to Canada.
When Mickey Mouse Club got cancelled in 1995, Gosling returned home. He continued acting professionally, mostly in family television series like Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps and Breaker High.
When Gosling was seventeen, he decided to quit high school and focus solely on his acting. As an eighteen-year-old, he moved as far as to New Zealand to film Fox Kids adventure series called Young Hercules, playing the title character from 1998 to 1999. When the series ended, he decided to move on to more adult roles. And that’s when his worldwide-known career took off.
‘I don’t know what to say about fame. I’ve been doing this since I was eight, so I can’t really say that it came out of nowhere’, he said later on about the fact his acting career started so early, and how far he’s gone. ‘But I can’t say that I saw it coming either. My friend’s grandmother would soak a lobster in vodka, get it good and drunk before she put it in the pot to cook it. Then she’d turn the heat up real slow. That lobster never knew what hit him. That’s kind of how it’s gone down for me. Except in my story, I guess I’m the old lady and the lobster.’
Trying to get into more serious roles, Gosling found it difficult to find roles at first. Finally, he shot Remember the Titans in 2000 and then he got the leading role in The Believer. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and finally opened the door to a wide range of possibilities to Gosling, even though the film was a commercial failure.
2002 brought Gosling the role in the Murder by Numbers thriller, alongside Sandra Bullock, as well as The Slaughter Rule. The next year he starred in The United States of Leland.
But it was Gosling’s role in the film that has become the romance drama classic – The Notebook – that changed the game completely. The film, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, became an unbelievable hit. Gosling and his co-star Rachel McAdams, with whom he later became romantically involved, hated each other during shooting, bringing a special kind of energy into their characters and the atmosphere of their relationship. Nonetheless, the film contains the All-Time Best Movie Kiss according to Entertainment Weekly and one of the top 50 Classic Movie Kisses by the Los Angeles Times.
In 2005, Gosling shot the thriller Stay, a film that wasn’t much praised by both the industry and the audience. In 2006, he shot Half Nelson, that got him nominated for an Academy Award. In 2007, he appeared in the film Lars and the Real Girl. Those two films got him the critical acclaim that would make any actor proud and Gosling got nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Also in 2007, he shot Fracture with Anthony Hopkins. Then, he decided to go on a little break, but only till 2010, which proved to be one of the busiest years of his career. He starred in Blue Valentine with Michelle Williams, a film that was mainly improvised and got him another nomination for a Golden Globe, this time for the Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama. Then he appeared in All Good Things and produced and narrated ReGeneration documentary.
In 2011, Gosling shot Crazy, Stupid, Love which brought him another Golden Globe nomination, then Drive and The Ides of March for which, again, his was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. In 2012, he shot The Place Beyond the Pines, then Gangster Squad and Only God Forgives in 2013. Gosling went on another break from acting and focused on directing Lost River. In 2015, he appeared in another film, The Big Short, a film which got nominated for the Best Picture at the Academy Awards. In 2016, Gosling appeared in The Nice Guys and musical La La Land, for which he received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. The film was nominated for numerous Oscars at the 2017 Academy Awards and is definitely one of the highlight’s of Gosling’s career, despite him not winning Best Actor.
Gosling is also a musician. ‘I thank God for music’, he says. ‘It’s made me a better actor. I think acting has made me a better musician. Now, I come into a scene and I think: this guy’s playing the beat.’ In 2007, he made a solo recording ‘Put Me in the Car’ and formed an indie rock band Dead Man’s Bones and recorded an album.
Finally, he owns a Moroccan restaurant in California, which he bought on an impulse, spending all his money on it at that time.
Gosling is loved by the public for both the quality of his acting, and his looks. Interestingly, he is often confused with his colleague, actor Ryan Reynolds, who is also from Canada. ‘I can’t tell you how many times people go: are you Ryan? Then they take the picture and realize, in that moment, that I’m not Ryan Reynolds’, he admits.
In 2013, a series of videos went viral, named ‘Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal’, created by Ryan McHenry. They feature clips from Gosling’s films with a spoonful of cereal over the footage. When McHenry passed away, Gosling decided to shoot his own video and post it on Vine, in which he eats a bowl of cereal as a tribute to him.
Gosling is very active when it comes to charities and social causes. He has collaborated with PETA, campaigning for KFC and McDonald’s to improve methods of chicken slaughter and encouraging dairy farmers to stop de-horning cows. Gosling also volunteered as part of the clean-up effort after the Hurricane Katrina.
He also helps raise awareness about the LRA in Africa with Invisible Children Inc. IN 2005, he travelled to Darfur refugee camps in Chad and was a speaker at Campus Progress’ National Conference. He also visited Uganda and Congo as part of his work with the Enough Project.
He is known for taking time to prepare for roles and really get to know his characters. He has moved cities, changed his body appearance, learnt new skills, all for the sake of knowing the characters better.
‘I don’t really like doing interviews because I don’t have any answers about why I act’, he says. ‘It’s like a compulsion. It’s like people who eat and eat and eat and they don’t know why and they keep getting fatter but they can’t stop. It’s like that. And then you find yourself on a set throwing yourself off a bridge and you’re asking yourself: why am I doing this? And I don’t know.’
Ryan Gosling began dating Sandra Bullock, who is sixteen years older than him, when the two met on the set of their mutual film Murder by Numbers. The couple showed up on social events frequently, but the relationship ended lasting for just a year, with Gosling always speaking fondly of her.
In 2005, after shooting The Notebook together, Gosling began dating his co-star Rachel McAdams. What’s interesting about their relationship was the fact that the couple could barely stand each other during the making of the film, so much so, Gosling even asked the director to bring in another actress to read her lines for him. We inspired the worst in each other. It was a strange experience, making a love story and not getting along with your co-star in any way, he said later on. What’s also interesting, as a fun fact, is that Rachel was born in the same hospital as Gosling, only two years before him. After two years of dating, the couple broke up. They came back together in 2008 for a brief moment, only to break up again. Again, Gosling would continue to speak fondly of Rachel. God bless The Notebook. It introduced me to one of the great loves of my life. But people do Rachel and me a disservice by assuming we were anything like the people in that movie. Rachel’s and my love story is a hell of a lot more romantic than that.’
In 2011 Gosling began dating Eva Mendes, with whom he stars in The Place Beyond the Pines. The couple are very private about their life together so not many details about their relationship are known. They have two daughters, Esmeralda, born in 2014 and Amada, born in 2016. ‘I think women are better than men. They are stronger. More evolved. You can tell especially when you have daughters and you see their early stages, they are just leaps and bounds beyond boys immediately’, he says.
Written by: Tamara Djordjevic