Sara Hemrajani on the rise of Ryan Gosling…
La La Land, the award-tipped ode to musicals from Hollywood’s Golden Age, sees Ryan Gosling dance, sing, wax lyrical about jazz and woo Emma Stone’s aspiring actress in modern day Los Angeles. It’s a terrific performance and the 36-year-old seems to be a lock for one of the best actor Oscar nods. To top that off, he will be hitting the screens across the year in Terrence Malick’s Weightless and the eagerly anticipated Blade Runner sequel.
Showbusiness isn’t new to Gosling – he was a Mousekeeter (alongside pre-teen Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera) in The Mickey Mouse Club, and he played the title role in the Young Hercules series in the late 1990s. Gosling followed television with some smartly chosen indie features and, not too long after, he was primed for the big leagues as a major movie star.
Let’s take a look at the films which gave him those A-list credentials:
The Notebook – While Gosling came to the attention of critics and industry folk in Sundance-winning The Believer and crime thriller Murder by the Numbers, it was 2004’s The Notebook that really put the actor on the map. The romantic weepie, which paired him with fellow Canadian Rachel McAdams, showed off his leading man potential. Gosling’s swoon worthy performance as a young worker in love with the daughter of a wealthy family in pre-WW2 America earned him legions of fans.
Blue Valentine – Gosling continued to impress with his Oscar-nominated role in Half Nelson and the quirky indie flick Lars and the Real Girl, but it was another romantic drama which once again cemented his reputation as a talent to watch. However, unlike The Notebook, Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine saw Gosling turn the tables on his heartthrob status. In this gruelling study of the breakdown of a marriage, both Gosling and Michelle Williams unashamedly display the ugly aspects of a deteriorating relationship. The result is raw, uncomfortable and memorable.
Drive – 2011 was a busy year for the in demand Gosling. The then 30-year-old brought Nicolas Winding Refn’s neo-noir Drive to Cannes, receiving resounding applause for his part as the stoic driver/stunt man. Though mostly mute, Gosling’s unnamed character remains magnetic and intriguing thanks to the actor’s incredible screen presence and ability to play off the likes of Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks and Carey Mulligan. Gosling also established himself as a favourite at the legendary festival with his stylish suits and bromantic red carpet moments with Refn.
Crazy, Stupid, Love – By this stage, Gosling proved he could breeze through different genres – romance, drama, thriller, action – but the arrival of Crazy, Stupid, Love made audiences realise he could be funny as well. Gosling, who steps into the shoes of a smooth talking and quippy bachelor, wonderfully complements Steve Carell’s manic humour and Emma Stone’s dry wit. His hitherto unknown knack for broad comedy even garnered a Golden Globe nomination.
The Big Short & The Nice Guys – For a few years Gosling tackled more serious fare – The Ides of March, The Place Beyond the Pines, Gangster Squad and Only God Forgives – to varying degrees of success. Additionally there was a stab at directing with the arthouse-inspired Lost River, which was largely panned and failed to get cinematic distribution in the United States. Fortunately Gosling found his groove in two stellar ensemble comedies between 2015 and 2016.
In The Big Short, Gosling makes an impact as a disgustingly slick financier trying to cash in on the 2008 financial crisis. He has a key part among the celebrated cast as his character ruthlessly chases an opportunity to strike it rich and breaks the fourth wall by speaking to the camera directly, often with a knowing sneer. You’d hate him if he wasn’t so entertaining!
Gosling kept the punches rolling with The Nice Guys. His hilariously clumsy and incompetent private detective easily steals the show from Russell Crowe – who’s tasked with playing the straight man – in Shane Black’s clever homage to the buddy cop movies of the 1970s.
La La Land is out now in the U.S. and opens in the UK on January 12th. Blade Runner 2049 is slated for release in October.