Ryan Gosling: A nice guy in ‘Untitled Blade Runner’ and ‘La La Land’
LOS ANGELES—Ryan Gosling, who recently had a second daughter with his actress-partner, Eva Mendes, plays dad to a 13-year-old girl (Angourie Rice) in his comedy with Russell Crowe, “The Nice Guys.” The actor, 35, praised Angourie, who is 15 in real life, and is getting plaudits for holding her own with him and Russell.
“Angourie really was the most mature person on set,” said Ryan, whose new baby is named Amada. “Our relationship in the movie was supposed to be that of a father and daughter, but it became almost like a mother-son type of thing.”
In our recent interview, Ryan also talked about Esmeralda, his firstborn, now 19 months old.
He also chatted about two of his highly anticipated films—Denis Villeneuve’s “Untitled Blade Runner Project,” which also stars Harrison Ford, Robin Wright and Fil-Am Dave Bautista; and Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” a musical paean to Los Angeles where Ryan, a former Mouseketeer, sings and dances with Emma Stone.
Ryan and Russell are being welcomed as the new comedy duo in “The Nice Guys,” written and directed by Shane Black, who also wrote the “Lethal Weapon” movie series.
This time, Shane’s mismatched pair of private eyes operates in Los Angeles in the ’70s, when it was a shabby, sleazy, porn-infested world.
When he was a Canadian kid working in Disney Channel shows, Ryan hoped he’d work someday with Russell in a drama. Instead, he found himself doing physical comedy with the Aussie actor in a movie that includes “a giant smoking and talking bee.”
Excerpts from our talk:
Did you and Russell Crowe know each other before this film?
I didn’t know Russell very well, but I’m a big fan. I grew up being influenced by him.
Did you improvise a lot?
Shane gets bored easily. We would shoot the scene as written. Then, he’d want us to just see what else was there. Part of the fun of working with Shane is that you never quite know where the scene’s going to go.
A good example of that is a scene where the gun goes out the window. It was not supposed to happen that way. We were supposed to do a traditional “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” shootout. Then, Shane thought, they always catch the gun in movies. What if you missed it this time?
Russell can be intimidating. What was it like for you to work with him?
I guess I can tell you about the first day, which I was nervous about—it’s the bathroom stall scene where I have my pants down. I know everyone reads a script differently. I read it and saw the opportunity to be very physical and broad.
But I didn’t know that that’s how Russell read it, too.
I went to set early. I was working on what I was going to do in the bathroom stall. I thought I was alone, but I smelled smoke. I looked, and there was Russell smoking and watching me. I thought, oh, no, he hates it!
Then, he said, “If you hit it with the other foot, it’ll be funnier.” We immediately started having the most serious conversation about the stupidest thing ever.
Did you exchange music ideas with Russell, who’s also a musician?
Not really. I would play something in the trailer, and he’d quickly turn it off. Then, he’d play whatever he wanted to play.
How did having daughters change your life?
It’s heaven. I feel so lucky.
Those little things don’t feel so little now. It’s now so exciting to just spend a day at home with my daughters.
What do you enjoy doing with Esmeralda?
She has a ferocious mind and is fascinated by everything. It takes a lot of energy to keep up with her.
How is Eva as a mom?
She’s a dream.
Is writing music something you take seriously, or a thing you do for your amusement?
I wrote a musical with a friend of mine. It was turning out to be the most expensive musical of all time (laughs). We realized that no one was going to give us the money to make it.
So, we thought it’d be cheaper to make a record. By virtue of that, we had a band. We had to tour the band.
How much do you enjoy writing scripts?
I enjoy the collaboration. What I don’t like about writing is that it is so lonely. I have a few films that I’m preparing to direct. There are two films where I’m working with writers. I feel like you can cover a lot of ground more quickly. I’m having a much better experience with that than I did writing on my own the first time around.
How is your uncle, the Elvis Presley impersonator who inspired you to become an entertainer?
His stage name was Elvis Perry. Yeah, it was an amazing experience. We were living very normal and boring lives. Then, my uncle showed up in a white jumpsuit and said that he was going to be an Elvis impersonator and that he’d like us all to be in his act. For about six months, the whole family was in this act. It was amazing.
So he opened your mind to singing, dancing and acting?
Yeah. I saw that there was a whole other world out there. I took as many classes as I could to find a way to get back into that world.
I was a kid when my uncle became an Elvis impersonator. That was pretty eye-opening, because I didn’t know that was an option—that being in entertainment was really a job.
Many characters in “The Nice Guys” are not nice, ironically. What is your definition of a nice guy?
My uncle Bill, who’s my favorite uncle. He was very supportive of me when I was young. Even to this day, he collects every single piece of material about me that’s in a newspaper. He’s the nicest guy I know.
Do you consider yourself a nice guy?
I guess because I’m Canadian, it’s just the way we are.
Do you like ’70s fashion?
It’s all right. It was a bit much. I was born in the ’80s, so there were moments on set when I was like, “Did you guys really wear that?”
Can you talk about the “Untitled Blade Runner Project”? Is it a prequel or a sequel?
It’s a sequel. I’m a huge fan of the film. I was excited to know that Ridley (Scott) and Harrison (Ford) wanted to extend that story, that they felt that there was more to tell.
Can you talk some more about the movie?
They put a chip on my neck. If I say too much, my head will explode, so I can’t.
“Blade Runner” is a seminal science-fiction movie. It really set the bar. Aside from “Alien,” “Blade Runner” is probably one of the most-borrowed-from science fiction films.
It’s interesting that Denis Villeneuve is directing, and Roger Deakins is shooting it.
In “La La Land,” you sing and dance. Do those talents still come naturally to you?
I thought it would come more naturally than it did (laughs). It was like the movie, “The Cutting Edge,” with the hockey player trying to figure skate. It was more difficult than I thought.
You should be on “Dancing with the Stars.”
I’m waiting by the phone. They’ve never called.
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