After a three-year acting hiatus, Ryan Gosling starred in both Blue Valentine and All Good Things in 2010. The former performance as a frazzled husband earned him a second Golden Globe nomination. 2011 proved to be a landmark year for the actor as he appeared in three mainstream films – the romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love, the thriller Drive and the political drama The Ides of March – and received two Golden Globe nominations. He is due to appear in five upcoming films: the period crime feature Gangster Squad, the generational drama The Place Beyond the Pines, the revenge drama Only God Forgives, Terrence Malick's Lawless, and a remake of the sci-fi film Logan's Run.
Ryan Gosling's band, Dead Man's Bones, released their self-titled debut album and toured North America in 2009. He is a co-owner of Tagine, a Moroccan restaurant in Beverly Hills, California. He is a supporter of both PETA and the Enough Project and has travelled to Chad, Uganda and eastern Congo to raise awareness about conflicts in the region. He has had relationships with actresses Sandra Bullock (2002–03) and Rachel McAdams (2005–08) and lives in New York City.
Ryan Gosling was born in London, Ontario and raised in Cornwall, Ontario. He is the son of Thomas Gosling, a traveling salesman for a paper mill, and Donna, a secretary who qualified as a high school teacher in 2011. His parents were members of the Mormon Church and Gosling has said that the religion influenced every aspect of their lives. His parents divorced when he was a child and he and his older sister, Mandi, were raised by their mother, an experience Ryan Gosling has credited with programming him "to think like a girl."
Ryan Gosling was educated at Gladstone Public School and Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School. He "hated" being a child. He was bullied in elementary school and had no friends until he was "14 or 15". In Grade 1, having been heavily influenced by the film First Blood, he brought steak knives to school and threw them at other children during recess. This incident led to a suspension. He was unable to read. He was later diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), prescribed Ritalin, and placed in a class for special needs students. Consequently, his mother quit her job and homeschooled him for a year. Ryan Gosling has said that homeschooling gave him "a sense of autonomy that I've never really lost".
Ryan Gosling performed from an early age. He and his sister sang together at weddings; he performed with Elvis Perry, his uncle's Elvis Presley tribute act, and was involved with a local ballet company. Performing boosted his self-confidence as it was the only thing he received praised for. He developed an idiosyncratic accent because, as a child, he thought having a Canadian accent didn't sound "tough". He began to model his accent on that of Marlon Brando. He dropped out of high school at the age of seventeen to focus on his acting career.
In 1993, at the age of twelve, Ryan Gosling attended an open audition in Montreal for a revival of Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse Club. He was given a two-year contract as a mouseketeer and moved to Orlando, Florida. He appeared on-screen infrequently because other children were considered more talented. Nonetheless, he has described the job as the greatest two years of his life. Fellow cast members included Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and Gosling has credited the experience with instilling in them "this great sense of focus." He became particularly close friends with Timberlake and they lived together for six months during the second year of the show. Timberlake's mother became Gosling's legal guardian after his mother returned to Canada for work reasons. Ryan Gosling has said that, while they are no longer in touch, they are still supportive of each other.
Following the show's cancellation in 1995, Ryan Gosling returned to Canada and continued to appear in family entertainment television series including Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1995), Goosebumps (1996) and Breaker High (1997–98). At the age of eighteen, he moved to New Zealand to film the Fox Kids adventure series Young Hercules (1998–99). While he initially enjoyed working on the series, he began to long for an opportunity to play different characters and decided not to accept any more television work.
2000–2003: Move to independent film
At the age of nineteen, Ryan Gosling decided to move into "serious film". He was dropped by his agent and initially found it difficult to secure work because of the "stigma" attached to children's television. After a supporting role in the football drama Remember the Titans, Gosling secured a lead role as a young Jewish neo-Nazi in 2001's The Believer. Director Henry Bean has said he cast Gosling because his Mormon upbringing helped him understand the isolation of Judaism. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times praised an "electrifying and terrifyingly convincing" performance while Todd McCarthy of Variety felt his "dynamite performance" could "scarcely have been better". The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and Ryan Gosling has described it as "the film that kind of gift-wrapped for me the career that I have now." Because of the controversial nature of the film, it was difficult to secure financial backing for a full theatrical release and the film was instead broadcast on Showtime.
In 2002's Murder by Numbers, Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt portrayed a pair of high school seniors who believe they can commit the perfect murder. Sandra Bullock starred as a detective tasked with investigating the crime. The film received a red carpet premiere at the Cannes Film Festival which Gosling found "overwhelming": "I was scared to step on Sandy's dress, which I did a couple of times ... I was warned not to do that beforehand ... I tried not to pay attention to everything else." Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly described him as "a phenomenal talent even in junk like this" while Todd McCarthy of Variety felt that the "strong and "charismatic" young actors were "let down by the screenplay". His second screen appearance of 2002 was in The Slaughter Rule which explores the relationship between a high school football player and his troubled coach in rural Montana. Gosling has said that the opportunity to work with David Morse made him "a better actor". Stephen Holden of The New York Times described Gosling as "major star material" with a "rawness and an intensity that recall the young Matt Dillon" while Manohla Dargis of the Los Angeles Times was won over by his "raw talent".
In 2003, Ryan Gosling starred in The United States of Leland as a teenager imprisoned for the murder of a disabled boy. He was drawn to the role because it was unusual to find a character that was "emotionally disconnected for the whole film." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times felt that the "gifted actor does everything that can be done with Leland, but the character comes from a writer's conceits, not from life." A.O. Scott of The New York Times noted that he "struggles to rescue Leland from the clutches of cliché" while David Rooney of Variety felt that his "one-note, blankly disturbed act has none of the magnetic edge of his breakthrough work in The Believer".
Ryan Gosling came to the attention of a mainstream audience in 2004 after starring opposite fellow Canadian Rachel McAdams in the highly successful romantic drama The Notebook. Gosling sought to imbue his character with "quiet strength" and was inspired by the performance of Sam Shepard in Days of Heaven. The New York Times praised the "spontaneous and combustible" performances of the two leads and noted that, "against your better judgment, you root for the pair to beat the odds against them." Desson Thomson of The Washington Post praised Gosling's "beguiling unaffectedness" and noted that "it's hard not to like these two or begrudge them a great love together". Ryan Gosling won four Teen Choice Awards and an MTV Movie Award. Entertainment Weekly has said that the movie contains the All-Time Best Movie Kiss while the Los Angeles Times has included a scene from the film in a list of the 50 Classic Movie Kisses. The Notebook has appeared on many Most Romantic Movies lists.
In 2005, Ryan Gosling appeared as a disturbed young art student in Stay, a psychological thriller co-starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. In an uncomplimentary review of the film, Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said that Gosling "like his fans, deserves better." Todd McCarthy of Variety felt that the "capable" McGregor and Ryan Gosling "deliver nothing new from what they've shown before". Gosling was unfazed by the negative reaction: "I had a kid come up to me on the street, 10 years old, and he says, ‘Are you that guy from Stay? What the f--- was that movie about?’ I think that's great. I'm just as proud if someone says, ‘Hey, you made me sick in that movie,’ as if they say I made them cry.”
Ryan Gosling next starred in 2006's Half Nelson as a drug-addicted junior high school teacher who forms a bond with a young student. To prepare for the role, Ryan Gosling moved to New York for one month before shooting began. He lived in a small apartment in Brooklyn and spent time shadowing an eighth grade teacher. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times described "a mesmerizing performance ... that shows the kind of deep understanding of character few actors manage." Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle drew comparisons with Marlon Brando and declared that "nobody who cares about great acting will want to miss his performance". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times felt the performance "proves he's one of the finest actors working in contemporary movies." He was nominated for an Academy Award.
Ryan Gosling played an introvert who falls in love with a sex doll in the gently comedic 2007 film Lars and the Real Girl. He drew inspiration from James Stewart's performance in Harvey. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times felt "a film about a life-sized love doll" had been turned into "a life-affirming statement of hope" because of "a performance by Ryan Gosling that says things that cannot be said". Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post described his performance as "a small miracle ... because he changes and grows so imperceptibly before our eyes." However, Manohla Dargis of The New York Times felt "the performance is a rare miscalculation in a mostly brilliant career." He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
Ryan Gosling starred opposite Anthony Hopkins in the 2007 courtroom thriller Fracture. He originally turned down the role, but changed his mind when Hopkins signed on. He spent time shadowing lawyers and observing courtroom proceedings in preparation for the role. Claudia Puig of USA Today declared that "watching a veteran like Hopkins verbally joust with one of the best young actors in Hollywood is worth the price of admission". Manohla Dargis of The New York Times felt it was a treat to watch "the spectacle of that crafty scene stealer Anthony Hopkins mixing it up with that equally cunning screen nibbler Ryan Gosling ... Each actor is playing a pulp type rather than a fully formed individual, but both fill in the blanks with an alchemical mix of professional and personal charisma."
Following a three year absence from the big screen, Ryan Gosling starred in five movies in 2010 and 2011. "I’ve never had more energy,” Gosling has said. “I’m more excited to make films than I used to be. I used to kind of dread it. It was so emotional and taxing. But I’ve found a way to have fun while doing it. And I think that translates into the films.” He has also spoken of feeling depressed when not working.
In 2010, Ryan Gosling co-starred with Michelle Williams in Derek Cianfrance's directorial debut, Blue Valentine. The low-budget marital drama was mainly improvised and Ryan Gosling has said "you had to remind yourself you were making a film". Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle felt he "brings a preternatural understanding of people to his performance" while A.O. Scott of The New York Times found him "convincing as the run-down, desperate, older Dean, and maybe a bit less so as the younger version". Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly noted that he "plays Dean as a snarky working-class hipster, but when his anger is unleashed, the performance turns powerful." However, Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe felt the performance was an example of "hipsterism misdirected". He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama.
Gosling's second on-screen appearance of 2010 was in All Good Things, a mystery film based on a true story. He played the role of New York real-estate heir Robert Durst, who was investigated for the disappearance of his wife (played by Kirsten Dunst). Gosling found the filming process to be a "dark experience". When asked if he was proud of the film, he replied, "I'm proud of what Kirsten does in the movie." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone felt he "gets so deep into character you can feel his nerve endings." Mick La Salle of the San Francisco Chronicle found the "chameleonic Gosling is completely convincing as this empty shell of a man". Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times felt that the film belonged to Dunst, but noted that Gosling "is good too". Also in 2010, Gosling narrated and produced ReGeneration, a documentary that explores the cynicism in today’s youth towards social and political causes.
2011 saw Ryan Gosling expand his horizons by appearing in three diverse roles. He appeared in his first comedic role in Crazy, Stupid, Love. opposite Steve Carell and Emma Stone. Gosling took cocktail-making classes at a Los Angeles bar in preparation for his role as a smooth-talking ladies' man. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post said his "seductive command presence suggests we may have found our next George Clooney". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone declared him "a comic knockout" while Claudia Puig of USA Today felt he reveals a "surprising" "knack for comedy." He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
In his final appearance of 2011, Ryan Gosling was directed by George Clooney in the political drama The Ides of March, in which he played an ambitious press secretary. Gosling partly decided to do the film to become more politically aware: "I'm Canadian and so American politics aren't really in my wheelhouse." Joe Morganstern of the Wall Street Journal said that Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman "are eminently well equipped to play variations on their characters' main themes. Yet neither actor has great material to conjure with in the script." In an generally tepid review, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times asserted that it was "certainly involving to see the charismatic Gosling verbally spar with superb character actors like Hoffman and Paul Giamatti." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle felt there was "one aspect to the character that Ryan Gosling can't quite nail down, that might simply be outside his sphere, which is idealism." He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama.
Gangster Squad, a 1940s crime drama, is set for release in October 2012. The actor will portray Sgt. Jerry Wooters, an LAPD officer who attempts to outsmart mob boss Mickey Cohen. The director is Zombieland's Ruben Fleischer and Ryan Gosling has said, "it’s very, very different tonally."
Ryan Gosling has also completed work on the generational drama The Place Beyond the Pines, directed by Blue Valentine's Derek Cianfrance, and has described it as "the best experience I have ever had making a film." The film is set for release in 2013. Ryan Gosling will portray Luke, a motorcycle stunt rider who robs banks in order to provide for his family.
Ryan Gosling is attached to two other films which do not yet have official production dates. The first film is Terrence Malick's Lawless. The film will costar Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Haley Bennett. When asked to provide details of the film or his role, Ryan Gosling replied, "I can't comment. A chatty cathy that one." He is also scheduled to appear in a remake of the sci-fi film Logan's Run, again directed by Winding Refn. He has yet to see the original film.