Monday, January 30, 2012


An interview with DRIVE star, Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling has a dream but its not what you would expect. It isn’t riches or success or notoriety; he has already achieved those lofty goals. No, Gosling has something much more specific in mind. “My dream is to create a character that people go out as on Halloween,” Gosling tells me when we meet at the Toronto International Film Festival. He says this with full sincerity and not a single trace of sarcasm on his beautiful face.

Gosling may have found that character in his new film, DRIVE. Known only as The Driver, his character sports a shiny bomber jacket with a giant scorpion on the back, is constantly fiddling with a toothpick in his mouth and he barely speaks a word most of the time. Aside from his inherent coolness, he is also one of the biggest badasses I’ve seen on screen all year. “He’s got issues,” Gosling quips of The Driver. “He’s a psychopath. He’s gotta get control of that, I guess.”

It was Gosling who pushed for DRIVE to be made and also for Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn to helm. And once those two got started, there was no stopping them. “Nicolas and I creatively copulated and this movie baby was born and then we had to raise it,” explains Gosling. When he says things like this, he looks straight at you and doesn’t even flinch. It’s impressive.

The buzz behind DRIVE is as loud as the film itself and if it connects with audiences, which I assure you, it most certainly should, Gosling has the chance to continue solidifying his status as one of the most intriguing and marketable stars working today. Not too bad for a boy from London, Ontario. His work in this summer’s CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE was the best of the bunch and he also stars in next month’s THE IDES OF MARCH, directed by none other than George Clooney. Oscar is abuzz.

People are calling Gosling the next De Niro but he’s having none of it. “There is no difference between me and anyone else,” Gosling says both firmly and humbly, clearly somewhat irked by the notion itself. “I hate when that stuff happens,” he says of comparisons. “There’s no where to go after. It just sets you up to fail.”

Comparisons aside, the kind of intensity Gosling gives in DRIVE could not as easily be achieved by too many other young actors today. He is extremely intimidating and all he has to do is stand there and stare at you to accomplish this. When I ask him where he has to go in his head to be that menacing, he answers with three words, “Not too far.”

Gosling would simply prefer that his work speak for itself and his work in DRIVE is some of the best I’ve seen from him. This is likely, at least in part, due to his strong understanding of the material itself, which is based on a James Sallis novel. “Driving can be something of an existential experience,” he explains. “You aren’t being watched; you are just the watcher. It’s similar to watching a movie.”

And if that movie happens to have Gosling in the driver’s seat, all the better.


If it weren’t for REO Speedwagon’s most memorable hit, “Can’t Fight This Feeling”, Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE may not exist today. The film’s star, Ryan Gosling, brought the idea of a stunt car driver who moonlights as a getaway car driver to Refn as his first pick to direct. The only problem was that Refn was sick with the flu at the time and hopped up on meds so he couldn’t quite get his head around it. When the Speedwagon song came on the radio on their drive home though, suddenly Refn got it and he just started to cry.

Gosling and Winding Refn on set
Ever since then, Gosling and Refn have been almost inseparable. “Ryan and I have become one person,” Refn tells me when we meet at the Toronto International Film Festival. In fact, Refn, a Danish filmmaker who has never worked in Hollywood, only agreed to make the picture because he knew Gosling would protect him from the studio system. “He was the star. He had the power to make this movie happen or not.”

Gosling and Winding Refn locking lips on the festival circuit
The love and admiration is certainly mutual. “There is nobody like him,” Gosling shares with me shortly after I speak with Refn. “For him, filmmaking is a fetish. He only shoots what he wants to see.” The twosome are already scheduled to shoot two more movies together and they even shared living quarters while shooting this one, staying up late pitching around ideas for the next day. Says Gosling, “We were always chasing that moment in the car when the movie was born.”

No comments: