TORONTO - You can't blame Ryan Gosling if he's a little puckered out. The 30-year-old Canadian actor has had five of the busiest months in his life. In May, Nicholas Winding Refn's "Drive" debuted to massive acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival. Gosling spent most of July promoting another critic's favorite, and solid hit for Warner Bros., the dramedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love." By September, Gosling was pounding the pavement and talk shows for the release of "Drive" and George Clooney's new thriller "The Ides of March." It may be the year of Michael Fassbender and Jessica Chastain, but it's also clearly "a" year for Ryan Gosling.
Speaking to Awards Campaign at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival last month, Gosling was much more relaxed than when we had a spirited conversation about "Crazy, Stupid, Love" in July. When I asked him why he carefully chose to play up and coming campaign strategist Stephen Meyers in Clooney's "Ides," Gosling was as blunt as ever. First, it's hard to say no to George Clooney. Second, he recalls, "I liked that it was set in the world of politics, but not necessarily a political film. It's more about the dangers of separating your brain from your heart."
That has pretty much been the company line from everyone involved in "Ides"; "It's not a movie about politics." And, considering the need to open the picture, you can't blame them for taking that position when talking to the media. And yet, Stephen's optimism and almost naiveté at the beginning of the film and his disillusionment at the end seems like an obvious correlation to where the country is after three years of President Obama first term. In response to that comparison, Gosling would only note, "It's a good film to start a dialogue, but what I like about the movie is that it doesn't really have a message, but an insight into that world."
On the other hand, the former Oscar nominee was more than happy to discuss his very passionate and charming director on "Ides."
"He's pretty charming all the time. I've never seen him not be charming," Gosling says. "He's so enthusiastic about filmmaking. He's so excited to be on set. I haven't worked on all of his films, but he seems to love the films that he's making and loves the people that are in it and that's all he wants to talk about and everyone who is working on them. It's nice to see someone who could be so jaded not be like that at all. He's like a kid in a candy store."
With only a few minutes left for our interview, I had to ask Gosling about "Drive," a thriller that could end up on this pundit's top 10 list at the end of the year. I mentioned that I'd spoken to his co-star, Carey Mulligan, at Comic-Con and we'd had a very enlightening conversation about the creative process she, Gosling and Refn undertook. Gosling immediately perked up, laughed and volunteered, "Carey Mulligan at Comic-Con, that's a short film I'd like to see."
He then continued, "Talk about not talking? Well it was a relief. I think a lot of times practically a script has to be a certain length. You're handed a script that is 90 pages no one will read it. It has to be 100 pages or 110 pages for someone to take it seriously. I think when you get on set you don't need all those lines. You can say more without saying anything. And the audience? They can see what's going on. They can see that this person likes that person. They don't need them to tell each other. So, when we worked with [director Nicholas ] he just understands that and it was just a relief for us because we got to shape the dialogue and see how much we could say without saying it."
You can watch the entire interview (it's worth it just for Gosling's reaction to the concept of Mulligan at Comic-Con) embedded at the top of this post.
"The Ides of March" opens nationwide Friday.
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