Ryan Gosling on his first directing gig
LOS ANGELES—On this joyous Easter Sunday, we begin with a joke (source unknown): “The Pastor said, ‘You need to join the Army of the Lord!’ My friend answered, ‘I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor.’ The Pastor asked, ‘How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?’ My friend replied, ‘I’m in the Secret Service.’”
Happy Easter, dear readers!
* * *
Said Ryan Gosling in a recent interview: “If I’ve learned anything from filmmakers that I’ve been working with, it’s that you never stop making the movie and, always, the films end up very differently than what you initially planned them to be.”
The actor turns writer/director for the first time in May, when he begins shooting “How to Catch a Monster.” Ryan’s screenplay is described as a fantasy thriller about a single mother and her teenage son, which will shoot in Detroit.
“So I probably shouldn’t speak too much about it (‘How to Catch …’) because, I imagine, it will be very different when it’s over than whatever I may say now,” Ryan added.
He will not act in the film, which will top-bill Saoirse Ronan, his “Drive” co-star Christina Hendricks (as Billy), reported girlfriend Eva Mendes, “Doctor Who’s” The Doctor Matt Smith (Bully) and Ben Mendelsohn (Dave). Eva and Ben costar with Ryan in Derek Cianfrance’s crime drama, “The Place Beyond the Pines.”
Ryan added another thing he learned from the directors of his films, which is quite an impressive, eclectic list: Terrence Malick (an untitled film), Nicolas Winding Refn (our favorite “Drive” and the coming “Only God Forgives”), George Clooney (“The Ides of March”), Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”) and Nick Cassavetes (“The Notebook”), among others.
“When you’re a filmmaker, you have no place to hide,” Ryan pointed out. “It’s the most exposing place you can be. As an actor, you hide behind your role or the fact that you didn’t direct, write or cut it. But when you’re the filmmaker, and especially if you wrote it, the film will say everything about you. So it’s probably best not to emulate anyone and just be yourself. It’s really the only thing that you know how to be.”
Of the revered Terrence Malick, who directs Ryan and a great cast that includes Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and many more in an untitled film, the actor said, “Terry’s a whole other conversation. It was like the best film school I could have ever gone to. He’s such a gracious man. He let me shoot a lot on the film so I got a lot of experience with the camera. He was over my shoulder, telling me how to shoot so that was incredible.
Force of nature
“But Terry is more of a force of nature. He speaks seven languages. He’s making five films right now, one of which is about the creation of the universe. He’s been shooting it for 15 years now. He’s constantly pushing himself outside his comfort zone and everybody around him. It’s incredible to watch him.”
Ryan appears to be psychologically primed to become a filmmaker. “[Directing] seems like such a lonely place to be because, I imagine for most people, some self-doubt would creep in,” he said. “I am sure it must [be so] with Terry but again, he’s just such a force of nature. It’s no surprise to me that he’s so interested in the weather, which plays such a big part in his films. I feel that he’s like one of the elements as well.”
He continued: “I feel that it’s really important to me at this point in my life to have a history—and I’ve been through a lot—with those great filmmakers. Those films changed my career and my life. So I feel connected to them in a way. I feel like, now that we’ve got that in the bank, we have a strong foundation to build on. My hope is that I’ll get to make more films with them.”
Ryan refrained from sharing details of his film’s story. He did say, though: “It’s just something that wouldn’t go away and has continued to evolve. It has never stayed stagnant. It’s always growing, changing and it gets clearer. It has a momentum that’s hard for me to ignore.”
Deadline.com, however, posted the film’s plot: “‘How to Catch a Monster’ weaves elements of fantasy noir, and suspense into a modern day fairy tale. Set against the surreal dreamscape of a vanishing city, Billy, a single mother of two, is swept into a macabre and dark fantasy underworld while her teenage son (Bones) discovers a secret road leading to an underwater town. Both Billy and Bones must dive deep into the mystery, if their family is to survive.”
A search for an actor to play Bones, who, according to a casting call notice, must be “17 to 19 years old in appearance, male of Caucasian or Caucasian and African-American race,” is ongoing as we write this column.
In his recent New York Times article on Ryan, Dennis Lim wrote, “All he (Ryan) will say about the film is that it was inspired by a screening of ‘Drive’ at Cannes.
When Ms Hendricks’ character meets a sudden, gruesome end ‘the audience gave a standing ovation,’ Mr. Gosling said. ‘It was the strangest thing I’d ever been a part of, and in some way my movie is a bit about that experience.’”
Eva Mendes said in another interview that she’s “really excited” to be directed by Ryan: “I’d love to talk about it after we shoot. I get a little superstitious about things before I actually go do them. But I’m really excited. Of course, I think he’s going to be an amazing director. He has this quality about him as an actor and I’m sure it will translate into him as a director who makes everybody better. He’s certainly made me a better actress in this film (‘The Place Beyond the Pines’). I look forward to being directed by him.”
“I can’t say anything [about the story]—he’ll kill me,” Saoirse Ronan, in a separate interview, told us with a smile about her new director’s script.
But Saoirse said, “I almost worked with Ryan a few years ago. I got on extremely well with him. He’s a great guy. When he got in touch with me about the movie, I read the script, which he wrote as well, and it’s really good, really cool and very interesting. I thought it would be a great thing to be a part of. I haven’t seen him in years, but knowing him and the type of actor that he is, I think he’s going to make a great director. He’s going to do a great job with this.”
Ryan shared an aspect of his directing debut that has a personal significance to him. “My sister was a big ‘The Little Mermaid’ fan,” he said. “I used to draw a lot when I was a kid. I drew all the characters for her and made this ‘Little Mermaid’ party. It was the first thing I ever did that was creative, and for which I got some positive feedback. Right now, I’m working with the storyboard artist who drew ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit.’ He’s my storyboard artist (for this film). It’s strange, like a circle completed because I found myself working with the person who drew the things that sort of started me on my path.”
Email the columnist at email@example.com.
Follow him at http://twitter.com/ nepalesruben.