Ryan Gosling On 'Drive,' Cary Mulligan
He may be a marque movie star, but Ryan Gosling is blazing a trail through indie film with his thoughtful role choices. Born and bred in Ontario, Canada, for the early half of his childhood, Gosling answered questions about his latest film, Drive, at the 2011 Cannes Festival. Gosling began his career as a tot on the Mickey Mouse Club alongside future pop stars Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. While Gosling sang and acted on the Mickey Mouse Club, he went in a different direction than his co-stars and pursued his talents in acting. (In 2007, Gosling resurrected his singing career and formed the band, Dead Man’s Bones.)
Post-Mickey Mouse Club, Gosling appeared in multiple television shows such as the Nickelodeon favorite, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and another bone-chilling show, Goosebumps. He moved on to independent films, where he played dark and emotionally torn characters in The Believer and Murder By Numbers. Gosling became an official Hollywood heartthrob after starring in the tragically romantic film, The Notebook, opposite Rachel McAdams. Gosling and McAdams embarked on a two-year relationship after the production of the film, and he has been quoted as saying that McAdams was one of the greatest loves of his life. He has also dated other big names in Hollywood such as Kat Dennings, Blake Lively, Olivia Wilde and Eva Mendes, but none of them had the same effect as McAdams.
In 2007, Gosling was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor in a leading role for his performance as a drug-addicted teacher in Half Nelson. Then, for a few years, Gosling took a break from the Hollywood limelight until 2010 when he starred in Blue Valentine opposite Michelle Williams, which garnered him further critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination. By the end of 2011, Gosling will have cranked out five films with him playing the lead role in just about two years time — including All Good Things, Crazy Stupid Love, Drive and The Ides of March.
Based on the novel by James Sallis, Gosling’s latest movie Drive is about a seriously disturbed Hollywood stunt man who gets involved with his neighbor’s mob debt acting as his getaway driver. In an interview with Uinterview founder Erik Meers at the Cannes Festival, Gosling answered questions about his role and working on the film. Gosling comments on his character’s personality, dealing with his complexities and the strangeness of his on-screen romance with co-star Cary Mulligan. “When we took out the sexuality, it became more about, that he was her knight and his duty was to serve and die for her, and that was his destiny, and she was a princess locked in a tower, and he needed to slay a dragon,” he says.
- Q: Drive's director Nicolas Refn said he thinks your character Driver’s psychotic but not a psychopath. How would you describe this guy? - Uinterview
- A: Someone who’s seen too many movies. It feels to me like someone who had seen so many movies that they had begun to confuse their own life for one. You ever come out of a movie and you feel like you’re that character?
- Q: Your character is also restrained. Do you feel like both the restraint and the violence come from one place? - Uinterview
- A: Well, the mentality of the film really came from – we were watching Pretty in Pink, and we agreed that if there was head-smashing in it, it would be the perfect film. Lack of violence was keeping 16 Candles from being a masterpiece. If it just had… a good old fashioned head smashing…
- Q: You get the sense of the character that while he’ll tolerate criminality, what he won’t tolerate is lack of professionalism. Is that something where you know this guy’s past or do you just turn the key and start him? - Uinterview
- A: Well, I’m used to figuring out the character, but Nicolas could care less. He wants to think in dream logic. So it was sort of freeing to think that way. This movie’s a dream that’s turning into a nightmare. And you’re experiencing this story from inside of Driver’s world. And it could be his own… this could just be his own fantasy or nightmare. It’s not literal, so… we didn’t really think about those things.
- Q: What was your experience shooting in L.A. with a foreign director? This film looks different than other L.A. movies. - Uinterview
- A: I mean, I’ve never made a film like this before, so I don’t know what it would be like with someone who was from there. My favorite thing to do in Los Angeles is just drive around at night and listen to music. I like to listen to Art Labeau, he does this show where families call in to their family who are in prison, and they dedicate songs to one another. So some woman will dedicate a song to a guy named Winky who’s getting six months. So I started taking Nick into that world, of just driving around at night and just listening to music and kind of this lull that the car puts you under. You get in the car and you turn the key, and suddenly you’ve arrived at your destination and you don’t remember how you got there. Kind of trance that it puts you in. And the movie became more about driving than stunts, and it became more about being in the car, than the car itself.
- Q: I love the comment you made at the Cannes press conference when you said, “The one thing I wanted was for this movie is not be macho.” What did you mean by that? - Uinterview
- A: I just think there’s enough of that. This frat-guy mentality. Posturing and secret handshakes, and it’s just been done. I thought it would be nice to make this film from a more… it’d be nice to make this movie with a bit of a femininity to it. Like for instance the female praying mantis eats the male praying mantis after they’re done mating. And she does it because the protein ensures the health of the newly fertilized eggs. So what’s more brutal than that? But it’s not personal. It’s just her nature. And so there’s a violence to femininity that we wanted to explore.
- Q: It’s interesting that your character is clearly kind of civilized – he’s clearly falling in love with this girl. It turns out that she’s married and the husband’s coming back, and he backs off. You don’t see a lot of heroes in this kind of movie make that kind of connection. - Uinterview
- A: Well, it’s a non-sexual connection. That, I think, was really the key for me. When we took out the sexuality, and it became more about, that he was her knight, and his duty was to serve and die for her, and that was his destiny, and she was a princess locked in a tower, and he needed to slay a dragon.
- Q: There’s so little dialogue, but so much you have to express through facial expression and that must have been incredibly complicated and difficult. How did you achieve that? - Uinterview
- A: Well, that’s what you get trained to do as an actor. You learn to tell the story, but in this movie my job is to let Nicolas tell the story. So just to be there, and create space – space for the audience to think whatever they want to think. Not try to control what they’re thinking every minute – it was so hard to allow their artistic space.
- Q: Was that a challenge to form this sort of chemistry with Carey [Mulligan], where your relationship is basically just looking at each other silently? - Uinterview
- A: But once we did that, it was funny on set, because sometimes we would just stare at each other for hours, like a joke. And I remember one time I went in to do a scene with Albert [Brooks] and it’s a big scene. He has a big monologue, and he asks me if I want a drink, and I don’t answer him, and it was just driving him nuts. After we did the first take, he said, 'You’ll say something. You’ll nod your head, or give some indication, because this not talking thing, it’s not working. It’s interesting, you tried it, but clearly it’s weird, and you’ll say something!' But that was hard, because while you’re doing that you constantly feel this pressure to do something. But then you reach these moments where you reach a natural harmony. A natural harmony between a man and a woman and a child, and they’re all in the same space of each other, there’s just a natural harmony and if you allow there to be silence, you can hear it. And you won’t have to act like a man, or act like a woman, or act like a cute, funny, ironic kid in order to communicate. That almost drowns out the sound.
- Q: What was it like doing the driving scenes? - Uinterview
- A: Well, it was frustrating because I had actually learned how to do the stunts, so I just wanted to do them, but you have to set up rigs and lights. It does look beautiful. The process of learning how to drive was pretty exciting. Working with the stunt coordinator, Darrin Prescott, in this church parking lot, and there’d be a new Camaro or a new Mustang, and we would just do stunts until it started smoking or catch on fire. And then some tow truck would take it away, and then we’d go home, and wait till they found us a new car.
- Q: Do you think there’s a kind of Driver in all of us? - Uinterview
- A: I don’t know. I know for all of us, and we’re too influenced by movies. I know in first grade I saw First Blood, and the next day I filled my Fischer Price Houdini kit with steak knives and threw them at the kids at recess. And I got suspended, and my parents had to ban me from watching R-rated movies. I could only watch National Geographic films, Bible movies, or Abbott and Costello.
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