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article imageRyan Gosling discovers a home at ‘The Place Beyond The Pines' Special

By Earl Dittman     Apr 14, 2013 in Entertainment
This leading man is intensely devoted to his craft and the roles he plays. For 'The Place Beyond The Pines,' Gosling talks about portraying a hyper-masculine character, robbing banks, Eva Mendes, training for the chases and his directorial debut.
Ryan Gosling is in a surprisingly cheerful mood on this cold, Manhattan morning. In the lush hotel suite set aside for his tête-à-têtes concerning his incredible new motion picture, The Place Beyond The Pines, the Canadian-born actor is grooving to the classic Prince song "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" on his black, mini, hand-held music player. Dressed simply in a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and leather jacket, Gosling clicks off his hi-tech gadget, gets himself settled in one of the room's many oversized chairs, and blurts out a welcoming, "How are you? Great morning, isn’t it?”
A star of such studio hits as The Notebook, Crazy Stupid Love, The Ides Of March and indie faves that include Drive, Blue Valentine and Lars and The Real Girl, the 32-year-old actor (and soon to be first time director) is not a big fan of gossip columns, being treated like a celebrity or being tagged one of the sexiest men alive. Quite simply, Gosling is a funny, charming and open actor who is passionately enamored with his craft. Intensely private, Ryan has always diplomatically maneuvered his way around questions he felt invaded his personal comfort zone. “My life off the screen is not as interesting as the characters I play,” he once said in an earlier chat. “So, there is really no reason to talk about it. It’s kind of boring.”
Ryan Gosling is Luke in the Derek Cianfrance-directed  The Place Beyond The Pines
Ryan Gosling is Luke in the Derek Cianfrance-directed 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Focus Features
However, when it comes to Gosling’s performances in the films he chooses to appear in, Ryan is incredibly forthcoming and honest. His love and passion for the stunningly powerful The Place Beyond The Pines is palpable. His second collaboration with director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine), Gosling's performance in the emotionally-stunning film is one the best of his career. He credits filmmaker Cianfrance with making The Place Beyond The Pines easily the most exciting experience he's had in front of the cameras since his start in 1989. “Derek is an incredible filmmaker,” Ryan confesses. “He really makes the performances the focus and tries to make the camera invisible – to us and also to the audience. At the same time, he makes these wildly cinematic movies, but they are not self-conscious. He tees it up for the actors to be natural because he puts so much work into the environment.
Director Derek Cianfrance on the set of  The Place Beyond The Pines  with costars Ryan Gosling and B...
Director Derek Cianfrance on the set of 'The Place Beyond The Pines' with costars Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper
Focus Features
“Derek has this theory,“ he continues. “He believes that cinema is a place where you can visit those private moments where the curtain is lifted and you see people for who they are. I think a lot of times mainstream movies are more about people who are confident. Independent films tend to be more about people who are not so confident about themselves, their lives, where they are headed or what they have done. That’s really why I wanted to work with him again on this movie.”
Director Derek Cianfrance and Ryan Gosling on the set of  The Place Beyond The Pines
Director Derek Cianfrance and Ryan Gosling on the set of 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Focus Features
The Place Beyond the Pines is a first-rate, poignant drama that intricately explores the permanent link between fathers and sons. In the film, Gosling portrays Luke Glanton, a high-wire motorcycle stunt performer who tours with a carnival through small towns across the States. During a stop in upstate New York, in Schenectady (the Iroquois word that literally translates into “the place beyond the pines”) he revisits Romina (portrayed by Ryan’s real-life girlfriend, Eva Mendes) a former lover, only to find that during his near year-long absence, she has given birth to their son, Jason. When Luke makes the jarring discovery, he decides to forego life on the road in lieu of providing for his newfound family. Trying to lead a normal life, he takes on a job as a car mechanic. His boss, Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), takes notice of Luke's drive and abilities and suggests the two partner up to stage several bank robberies. When the heists begin to become incredibly risky, Robin wants to stop, but Luke will not be dissuaded. During one of the bank jobs, Luke crosses paths with Officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), an ambitious rookie police officer. Their meeting will forever change the course of both their lives and that of their sons. A film about destiny, fate, consequences and atonement, The Place Beyond The Pines is a provocative, sprawling epic that will leave movie-going audiences in awe.
A serendipitous moment between Gosling and Cianfrance led to their collaboration on The Place Beyond The Pines. "We were making Blue Valentine and I shared with Derek that I had this cockamamie theory that I could rob a bank and get away with it, if I wasn’t so afraid of jail," Ryan fondly remembers. “I had this delusion that I knew how to get away with it. I thought it was my idea. It turned out that Derek had been writing the same thing. He said, 'That’s crazy, I just wrote a movie about that.' That's when it felt like we should make the movie."
Ryan stars as Luke in  The Place Beyond The Pines
Ryan stars as Luke in 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Focus Features
Penned by Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder, the intricately-written screenplay for The Place Beyond The Pines provided Gosling the chance to portray a character he had never encountered before. The role also offered new emotional territory for him to explore. "In a lot of ways, Luke is in a motorcycle version of a boy band, it's the early-90s, and he's doing a bunch of low-rent carnival circuit – it doesn't get worse than that," he explains. "He's kind of a melting pot of every masculine cliché there is – tattoos, muscles, guns – it’s a joke. But, then he is presented with this child that he didn’t know that he had, and it is like a mirror is held up to him. He realizes that he is not a man at all. He’s none of those things. He feels like he’s a completely surface person without any depth. He feels a tremendous amount of shame. He realizes has over-romanticized himself and has created his own mythology. So, he starts robbing banks.
Gosling as Luke
Gosling as Luke
Focus Features
"Luke has these romantic ideas of turning it all around," he adds. "He has all these over-the-top ideas of what it means to be a man. From fighting, or the willingness to be violent to be threatening – like that is supposed to be proof of manhood. He was quick to show that, as he is in every other respect, but hoping all of that kind of stuff would fall flat in the wake of what was really required of him. Which is just to be present. Just to be there is all he had to do.”
Having to portray a character with such a heightened sense of masculinity, when asked what being a man means to Ryan Gosling, the actor pauses for a moment to reflect on his answer. "It's really simple," he confesses. "Being a man in just doing what you say you are going to do.”
Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines
Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines
Focus Features
Since Ryan and Luke are, in most respects, polar opposites, Gosling found it essential to emotionally and physically transform himself to better understand his character. Having tattoos put all over his body was one way Gosling tried to connect to his onscreen alter-ego. "I needed to portray Luke as somebody who had spent a lifetime of making bad decisions," he says. "So, I had them put on the worst tattoos that you had ever seen all over me. When I did the face tattoo, it was just too much. It was overkill. So, I went to Derek and I said, ‘I can’t do this, I look ridiculous. It’s going to ruin the movie.’ Derek said, ‘Well, I’m sure that’s how people with face tattoos feel. They regret them.’ I really fought him, and he said, ‘No, this movie is about consequences and now you have to pay the price.’" Gosling was surprised by the emotions the tattoos had on his own psyche. "I really did feel this overwhelming sense of shame," he admits. "I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t want to be photographed. When I was holding the kid who played my son, I felt so ashamed that this was his father. It gave me something that I probably couldn’t have acted. It’s like when I walked into that church and I was looking that way, I just felt embarrassed.”
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Focus Features
In the church baptismal scene from The Place Beyond The Pines, Gosling also found himself unexpectedly shedding tears. “One of the great things about Derek is that he never writes emotional moments in the script," Ryan says. "It’s never scripted, so you never come into the scene feeling this pressure that you have to hit this emotional high note. If they happen, they happen. That scene was early on in the movie, and I guess I just got lost in the surface nature of the character and I had overdone it. I just walked into that church and I felt that real sense of shame. The scene just happened.”
Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes
Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes
Focus Features
Playing opposite his real love Eva Mendes could have caused a myriad of problems for both actors. However, Gosling found their relationship a plus for both their performances and the tone of the motion picture. “I think in my and Eva's case, it was helpful, because we did know one another," he asserts. "It sort of mirrored us, but not exactly. I don’t think there was any rehearsals. For the most part, Derek has you kind of live the lives as much as you can of those characters – not by working on the scenes, but you coming to know the character by living their life. I mean, making a film has a dreamlike quality. It’s like these characters we played knew each other in another life. As did Eva and I. You can get out of that an authenticity to the connection. When you know someone, even in general, it’s harder to pretend. Which, ultimately, makes the film better."
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Focus Features
No fan of cigarettes in his off-screen life, when asked if was more difficult to smoke constantly as Luke or ride a motorcycle, Ryan has to think for a second. “I did smoke a lot in the movie, didn’t I?" he asks rhetorically, with a laugh. "I would say, between the two, probably the smoking. But, the motorcycle riding was tough, too.”
Gosling takes a break during filming the chase sequences for  The Place Beyond The Pines
Gosling takes a break during filming the chase sequences for 'The Place Beyond The Pines'
Focus Features
Although he had unearthed the emotional core of Luke, Gosling did have to practice and rehearse to develop the skills to convincingly ride a motorcycle, especially for the chase sequences. “I had to do it, because I hadn't ridden like I had to in the movie – I had only ridden a street bike," he explains. "So, I did get a lot of training, because it was in the nature of the way Derek wanted to shoot the film. A lot of things were done in one take, especially, the bank robberies, Derek wanted them all to be shot all in one take. That meant riding from down the street in front of the bank, running in, robbing it and then the getaway. So I had to do more than I probably would have to do on a regular film. However, the really cool stuff was done by Rick Miller. When Batman gets on a motorcycle in the Dark Knight movies, it is Rick in the bat-suit."
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Focus Features
Overall, Ryan says he felt like he mastered the art of motorcycle riding. Although, there were some hairy situations during filming where he didn't always feel entirely safe. "There were a couple of scary moments," he admits. "But, honestly, I wasn’t worried because I was working with a great stunt team and they had planned and choreographed everything very carefully. But, there was one where I had to ride from like four blocks away, park in front of the bank, run in, rob it, get out, get on my bike and then drive into oncoming traffic and dodge a bunch of oncoming cars. That was quite something."
Since Gosling had long harbored the fantasy of robbing a bank, did doing The Place Beyond The Pines get it all out of his system? "Oh yeah, I got my wish fulfillment all taken care of," Ryan says with a hearty laugh. "But, what is so great about it is that I got to live out my desire and the audience gets the chance to, as well. That's all because of Derek.
Ryan Gosling  Derek Cianfrance and Eva Mendes
Ryan Gosling, Derek Cianfrance and Eva Mendes
Focus Features
"I think this movie is a good directorial equivalent of a bank heist," he offers. "It took so much time to pull it off. Derek’s filmmaking is cinematic, beautiful and it’s also kind of invisible. He’s just got guts – to structure the film this way. A lot of people told him not to. People we very, very adamant that he not do it this way. He’s just the most stubborn person I’ve ever known. What’s amazing to me is that the film has all the elements of a traditional heist film, a crime thriller, a family drama – all these different genres. Yet, it is kind of deconstructed and laid out in a way that allows the audience to have a different experience in that kind of a movie. It’s very hard to do.”
Ryan Gosling begins filming his directorial debut   How To Catch A Monster   in late April
Ryan Gosling begins filming his directorial debut, 'How To Catch A Monster,' in late April
Focus Features
Gosling will find out for himself how difficult it is to make a great film, later this month, when he begins filming his first directorial effort How To Catch A Monster in Detroit, Michigan. A dark, horrifying modern-day fantasy tale, the cast of How To Catch A Monster includes Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Matt Smith (Doctor Who) and his costars from The Place Beyond The Pines – Eva Mendes and Ben Mendelsohn. When he took on the project as the director, Gosling admits he was a wee bit apprehensive about filming his own motion picture, but he no longer feels anxious. "I was nervous until I had my cast in place, but now that I have this cast I am excited," he explains. "You can’t really go wrong with a cast like this. They are one of the best. I’ve been on the other side of a scene with most of them, so I know how great they are. I like them all so much and I just can’t wait to see them in a movie together."
Ryan Gosling and director/costar George Clooney on the set of  The ides Of March
Ryan Gosling and director/costar George Clooney on the set of 'The ides Of March'
Warner Bros
Having worked with such seasoned directors as Cianfrance, Terrence Malick, George Clooney, Nick Refn and Nick Cassavetes, Ryan says each of the filmmakers taught him a number of valuable lessons and he plans to use every one of them to his advantage. “I’ve learned a lot from all these guys," he points out. "But, at the same time, you learn that it’s not just the style that you can adopt. They have a vision and a strong point of view, and it’s filtered by everything they put it through. I guess the idea is to admire that but not emulate it. You can only be yourself. It sounds cheesy, but I think that when it comes to filmmaking, there’s really nowhere to hide.”
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Ryan Gosling
Will Ryan Gosling make a better director than actor? "We'll see, won't we?" he says, with a self-effacing laugh. "You never really know until you are finished. Of course, that could be too late. But, I feel good about it." Does he ever anticipate a time when he might give up acting altogether? "I don't know, they are making a coloring book out of me," he laughingly jokes, "so, that must mean it's got to be over."
Before he puts his first love on the backburner, Gosling's next acting appearance will be in the upcoming crime drama Only God Forgives. “I did the film in Thailand with Nick Refn," he says of his director from Drive. “When people ask me about the action in it, I have to tell them that it’s way more violent than Drive. Let’s just say that the violence is way more extreme. Drive and Only God Forgives are so wildly different, but again, it was another great collaboration.”
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Focus Features
In between The Place Beyond The Pines and Only God Forgives, Gosling made the big studio gangster flick Gangster Squad. After he's finishes up his duties on How To Find A Monster is his next acting project going to be another role in a big popcorn blockbuster – a film with mass commercial appeal? "I can't really say, because I’m not really good at knowing what people want," he confesses. "I don’t have that talent. The best I can do is just make films that resonate – like The Place Beyond The Pines – and then see what happens. I’ve never tried to make a movie that was commercial. I don’t really know how to do it.”
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IMDB
With that said, his publicist indicates the interview is over and it's time for him to move on. Ryan jumps up, offers a handshake and a friendly, "See ya next time," turns on his hi-tech music machine and dances out of the room to the sounds of Prince's "Alphabet Street." Who said Ryan Gosling isn't one cool Canadian?
The Place Beyond The Pines is now playing in theaters across North America. (Check local city or territory listings for show times).
More about Ryan gosling, derek cianfrance, The Place Beyond The Pines, How to Catch a Monster, Eva mendes
 
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