This month we chat with Ryan Gosling, a Canadian who is dancing his way to awards.
Ryan Gosling is probably less impressed with himself than any movie star in the business. In person, he is distinctly matter-of-fact when it comes to discussing his work and greets you with a charming nonchalance and shy smile. Apart from the fact that he is ridiculously handsome, you might never guess that he is one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Another giveaway might be the scores of screaming female fans who lined the red carpet at the premiere of his new movie and were blessed when the obliging and ever-affable Gosling spent a half-hour taking selfies with them.
The Canadian actor revisits his musical roots in La La Land, the sensational new musical directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and co-starring Emma Stone. The film resurrects the magic of a long-lost Hollywood genre and transforms Gosling and Stone into a post-modern Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers.
As a 12-year-old, he sang and danced alongside future musical superstars Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. But having later made his mark as an actor, he never imagined he would be asked to display his old soft shoe technique again much less participate in old-style Hollywood musical numbers.
“I was pretty nervous about doing a musical because it’s been a long time since I did anything like that,” Gosling says. “As a kid, I used to sing When a Man Loves a Woman at weddings. When you’re eight years old, it was a huge deal to earn $20 doing that. Also, on The Mickey Mouse Club we were doing 90s hip hop numbers and that’s very different from the complicated tap dance routines and waltzes we do in La La Land. But fortunately, I had very patient and very talented coaches who were very, very good and helped prepare me. It was also great to have Emma as a partner – she makes everything seem so effortless.”
Gosling plays Sebastian, a cynical jazz pianist on his way up in Hollywood who becomes romantically intertwined with Mia (Stone), an aspiring actress and barista who maintains an indomitable faith in herself despite repeated rejection.
Touted as a favourite to dominate the Oscars, La La Land has already earned multiple Golden Globe nominations including those for best picture (musical or comedy) as well as individual acting nominations for both Gosling and Stone who first endeared themselves to audiences in Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011).
The 35-year-old Ryan Gosling lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend of the past three years, Eva Mendes, 41, and their daughters, Esmeralda, 2, and toddler Amada, born 29 April last year. He recently completed work on Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s original 1982 sci-fi cult classic, directed by Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario).
Together: Ryan, it’s very rare to make a musical these days. Are you a fan of the genre?
Ryan Gosling: I never got into musicals. My sister Mandy was a big fan of musicals and she studied musical theatre while I was growing up so I really became acquainted with the genre through her.
What I enjoy most about musicals is how the characters are able to connect through the songs and dances they do and that’s what I felt when I was doing the numbers with Emma. It’s a very different and unique way to communicate emotion and romance.
So the musical numbers were an extension of the regular scenes with dialogue?
Yeah. That’s why we enjoyed working with the choreographer and composer because they helped us understand how we could express what our characters were feeling for each other by the way they sang and danced together.
We wanted to stay in character in the sense that our characters’ relationship would simply be extended and expanded when you saw them in those (musical) numbers. Our choreographer Mandy (Mandy Moore of Dancing with the Stars fame, not the singer/actress – ED) developed the dance numbers in a way that you wouldn’t feel that they turned into different people as soon as they started singing or dancing.