Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy birthday, Ryan Gosling!

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Actor Ryan Gosling turns 31 today. He stars in two films now in theaters; he plays a Hollywood stunt driver who also drives getaway cars for robberies in Drive and a political staffer to George Clooney's presidential candidate in The Ides of March.

Born November 12, 1980 in London, Ontario, Gosling first started acting on television, including The All New Mickey Mouse Club (1993-95), Breaker High (1997-98), and Young Hercules (1998-99). He broke out in film with his performance as a Jewish neo-Nazi in The Believer (2001), for which he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. He continued to take dark roles in indies The Slaughter Rule (2002) and The United States of Leland (2003). In Murder by Numbers (2002), Gosling played a high school student who conspires with Michael Pitt to commit the perfect murder.

In 2007 he attended the Academy Awards as a Best Actor nominee for his performance as a high school teacher addicted to crack in Half Nelson (2006) and then was seen in the thriller Fracture, co-starring Anthony Hopkins. Later that year Gosling starred in Lars and the Real Girl (2007), playing a character who falls for a life-size doll. After being absent from the big screen for several years, he appeared in two movies in late 2010: All Good Things and Blue Valentine. All Good Things (2010), co-starring Kirsten Dunst, is based on the true story of the 1982 disappearance of Katie Marks (Dunst), the wife of David Marks (Gosling), who was suspected but never convicted in her assumed death. Blue Valentine (2011) is about the relationship between Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams). The movie contrasts their moments as a couple falling in love with difficult-to-watch scenes of their marriage falling apart. To call the movie depressing is an understatement; even though I’m a huge Ryan Gosling fan I put off seeing the film for months because I didn't think I could handle the emotional turmoil. But I am glad I finally watched it. One of my favorite moments is when Dean urges Cindy to tap dance in front of a store window with a heart on it. Meanwhile, he serenades her with "You Always Hurt The Ones You Love" on his ukelele. You can check out the song on the Blue Valentine Soundtrack.

I love the way Gosling completely disappears into his characters, and while he has demonstrated his talent in dark roles, I have been hoping for him to take on a comedy for years. One of my favorite movies from 2011 is the comedy-drama Crazy, Stupid, Love, about a man (Steve Carell) dealing with being single after his wife (Julianne Moore) asks for a divorce. Gosling becomes his wingman, advising Carell's character on clothes, women, and how to be a man.

I look forward to more Ryan Gosling films in 2012: Gangster Squad (also starring Sean Penn) and Only God Forgives, in which he reteams with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn.