Ryan Gosling: Celebrated and Enigmatic
You know people see you as some kind of cool sex symbol. How do you feel about that?
Actually, all this hype feels pretty fake to me.
But your image has to come from somewhere.
That has more to do with the roles I play than with me personally. I’m not really that good-looking, and if someone else had played these characters, then the same thing would probably be happening to them. That’s just cinema. I never planned for things to turn out this way. When I started acting, I wasn’t considered for the leading roles. So I was prepared for never getting any either.
That doesn’t sound like you were very hopeful.
At the beginning of your career, hardly anyone believes in you – with just a few exceptions. You have to push that aside, otherwise you’d lose all hope. And if the public suddenly changes its opinion, then you need to remain just as unimpressed by that. The only people who matter are the ones who have supported you from the very beginning.
Do you have to make any sacrifices for your job?
My privacy was probably the biggest sacrifice I’ve had to make. But you try to create it for yourself. You have to hold on to the semblance of having privacy. And you work to have time. And now that I have a family, that’s even more important. I would never sacrifice my family.
You seem so composed when you talk about all of this. How do you do that?
Hard to say. Maybe because I practiced Transcendental Meditation. That has a very calming effect on me.
Were you this reflective when you were a child?
I was a rather strange kid, I would say. I can still remember passing by an accident on my way to school. A motorcyclist had been hit by a car and the guy was lying injured on the road. I went up to him, and my first thought was, “I’ve got to get a motorcycle.” And that’s what I did. Even though I didn’t have my license and couldn’t ride it. I know that sounds crazy, but life is pretty surreal sometimes.
“My family are some characters. If you put them in a movie, you’d think it was over the top.”
And how did your family deal with this oddball of a son?
My family are some characters. If you put them in a movie, you’d think it was over the top. Our house was a stage with drama and comedy and suspense. It was everything all at once.
Did your childhood experiences make you become an actor?
It certainly made me who I am today. They help me with my acting. Because now I can reminisce about those days from a safe distance.
Are you a good judge of character? Can you tell when a person is a real friend?
With a good friend, you have a level of honesty that can also be uncomfortable. When you have the other person’s best interest at heart, then you can tell them things they don’t want to hear. If that risks your friendship, but you say it anyway, then you’re a real friend.
“If you can tell a person things they don’t want to hear, but you say it anyway, then you’re a real friend.”
Can you always be so totally honest?
It’s hard to be totally honest. With yourself and with other people. It’s hard to maintain. But you still have to make an effort to maintain that level of honesty. Then you can find those moments.
Apart from your relationship with Eva Mendes, what kind of relationship do you have with women?
I have a lot of friendships with women. I have women around me all the time. I’m used to that because I grew up with my mother and my sister and we were really close. My agent is a woman, my manager is a woman and my publicist is a woman. I need women around me. They’re the best.
How about friendships with men?
I guess with friendships between men, there’s this level of competition that can be unfortunate. Sometimes that can ruin a good friendship, because there’s this competition that is hard to keep in perspective.
Is it difficult to find friends and build trusting relationships in the dog-eat-dog world of Hollywood?