With a powerhouse performance in the George Clooney-directed political thriller 'The Ides Of March,' there is buzz around Hollywood that Gosling could very well be taking home a Best Actor Oscar this year. But Ryan is careful not to believe the hype.
In George Clooney's latest directorial effort, The Ides Of March, the actor/director focuses on the American political system and how ambition can seduce and power can corrupt even the most optimistic person. In an all-star cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood, Ryan Gosling portrays idealistic campaign worker Stephen Myers, a young man who is devoted to Governor Mike Morris (Clooney), a wild card presidential candidate who has groundbreaking ideas that could change the political landscape. Morris' ethics and integrity, however, are tested during a tough and dirty Ohio primary. Surprisingly, Stephen gets himself caught up in a nasty political scandal where the only path to survival is to play both sides. When Clooney made the decision to direct The Ides Of March, he instinctively knew Ryan Gosling would be perfect for the lead part of Stephen -- a decision he's glad he made and one that most critics and movie-goers are happy with, too.
"I think he knocks it out of the park," Clooney says of Gosling's performance. "He’s at the center of a hurricane in this film and he carries everyone and every point of view on his shoulders. The part requires intelligence in an actor, which Ryan brings to every role. I found working with Ryan was a delight. He just gives a tremendous performance."
Ryan Gosling with Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'The Ides of March'
Gosling's portrayal of the young campaign worker has garnered him several awards as Best Actor of the Year by critics' associations across North America. It also has most Hollywood insiders declaring him an Oscar and Golden Globe shoo-in. However, Gosling isn't ready to declare himself a winner. "Anything can happen, so I've learned to not pay attention to all that predicting," the former The Notebook leading man admits. "I just do my work and if people like it, then I just count it as an extra plus."
In 2011, Gosling also delivered stellar, unforgettable performances in Drive and Crazy, Stupid, Love. "I'm starting to be offered better and better roles," he says, "and that's the only part of being considered famous that is a plus. I love great parts and this year I feel like I hit the jackpot."
This fall, Gosling sat down for an interview to discuss The Ides Of March and Drive, his fame, dealing with Clooney -- the director and prankster -- working with Steve Carell, being considered a sex symbol and his soul-mate.
George Clooney and Ryan Gosling on the set of 'The Ides Of March'
There's a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding your performances in The Ides of March and Drive. How do you feel about the praise?
"It’s great that people are liking what I’m doing. There is the praise. I think it’s risky to believe in your press. What I believe in is the people who had a belief in me when I was starting out. I’ll never forget who believed in me when nobody else did."
How would you describe your character in The Ides of March? He seems conflicted.
"He really wants to effect change in this country and in the world. He believes he can help. But he gets to a point where he knows if his candidate isn’t going to win, he isn’t going to effective either. He ends up working for a candidate who can effect policy and change, but it’s a big dilemma for him to figure out what to do when he finds out some interesting facts about his candidate."
What was it like working with George Clooney as your director?
"It was more than fun. It was life altering. Working with him was like watching a unicorn being born every single day. (laughs) It’s actually rare to work with a director who is as clear as George Clooney and really knows what he wants. He knew this film inside and out."
Clooney loves movies.
"He really does. George also has this enthusiasm for filmmaking in general. He loved talking about the film and really breaking it down. He would talk you through the scenes and even hum what he thought the music would be like in the final cut. It was like talking through the movie in real time. Then when the cameras rolled, he would give you this incredible direction. He would walk away from you when you were ready to do the scene. That’s when you’d realize he sprayed an Evian bottle on your crotch."
Ryan Gosling in 'The Ides Of March'
The Evian bottle sounds like one of George's infamous practical jokes.
"It was one of many. And then, he would expect you to do the scene with wet pants. (laughs) He’s not just about making a good film. It’s about having a great experience making it."
This year, you were also in the film Drive. In it, you play Driver, a man who feels more at home in a car than anywhere else. How would you describe him?
"He’s a getaway driver who does small heists as well as a stuntman. And he happens to fall in love with the wrong women."
Drive is not your average action film, so why did you decide to do it?
"A lot of action movies are more action and less character. I loved that this had a strong character at the center and a strong love story as well."
Did you have to take any driving lessons for the role?
"I did, because cars weren’t something I knew much about in real life. But it was fun. I was given the choice of any car I wanted for the film, so I picked an old 1973 Chevy Malibu. They rebuilt it for speed."
Clooney, Hoffman and Gosling in 'The Ides Of March'
What makes the role exciting to watch is that you don't play Driver like your typical action-adventure hero.
"It’s more important for me to bring some reality to the part. I wanted you to see what motivates this guy to make what are some really bad choices. I also wanted the film to be dreamlike, but with a dream that turns into a nightmare."
How did you cope with rejection starting out as a young actor?
"When you’re a young actor most people tell you on a daily basis that it’s not possible or you can’t do it. Nobody believes in you, except for a few people. You learn not to care about other people’s opinions. You tune them out. You numb yourself if you’re smart. It’s not because you’re so smart of so full of your own stuff. It’s because if you listen to other people in life, you really wouldn’t ever do anything. You’d be too afraid to try."
How do you feel about being consider a sex symbol?
"I’m not that good looking. I’m a pretty weird-looking guy. Every role I got up until The Notebook was the weirdo, freak, psychopath nerd outsider character guy. I don't think things have changed. I still look the same. The public just sees my face a lot more."
Ryan Gosling and George Clooney on the set of 'The Ides Of March'
Recently, you also co-starred with Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid, Love. What was that like?
"I just love Steve Carell and always wanted to work with him. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I did a pilot. I was 17 and had a small part and so did Steve. We didn’t get to work together, but he was so funny that I’d just hang out on the set longer to watch him work."
So, Steve is really a hilarious guy both on-and-off camera?
"Oh yeah, one time, the boom guy just threw down his mic and had a laughing attack in the corner in the middle of a take. It was the first time I worked with someone who was so good, it was a problem."
There are rumors that you are dating Eva Mendes, your costar in The Place Beyond the Pines. Are the stories true?
"You know, doing the movies I did recently, I got the soul mate question a lot this summer. I just don’t know about that stuff."
So, does that mean you have a soul mate?
"Yeah, it’s a dog whose name is George. Eleven years. He looks like Jim Henson made him. It’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had in my life."
The Ides Of March Blu-ray and DVD Bonus Features: "Believe: George Clooney" and "On The Campaign: The Cast of Ides of March" featurettes plus Commentary with George Clooney and Grant Heslov.
Blu-ray Only: "Developing the Campaign: The Origin of Ides of March" and "What Does a Political Consultant Do?" featurettes. (Available January 17)
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