Thanks to his roles in The Notebook, Crazy, Stupid, Love and La La Land, Ryan Gosling has become one of the must lusted-after actors in all of Hollywood. However, there was a certain director who appeared to be immune to his charms. Incredibly, the Oscar nominee in fact once lost out on a part because he wasn’t considered attractive enough.
Yes, back in 2007 Ryan Gosling was all ready to assume the character of Jack Salmon in the movie adaptation of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. However, despite the star’s obvious handsomeness, director Peter Jackson felt that he wasn’t in the right shape to play the pivotal role of a murdered young girl’s father. Here’s a look at a story that proves no one is safe when it comes to Tinseltown’s obsession with looks.
Born in the Ontario city of London in 1980, Ryan Gosling grew up in a Mormon household, although the star has admitted that he never very taken with the religion. His showbiz career began when he was just 12 after he landed the role of a mouseketeer in the Disney Channel variety show The Mickey Mouse Club. Gosling has since spoken very fondly of his two-year stint on the series.
Gosling’s child stardom continued when he appeared in the likes of Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark and Breaker High. Then, in his late teens he landed the leading role on Young Hercules, but this would prove to be his last children’s TV part. Indeed, a year later, Gosling decided to pursue his ambition of becoming a serious actor.
Following an appearance in sports tale Remember the Titans, Gosling received huge critical acclaim for his leading performance as a neo-Nazi in gritty 2001 drama The Believer. The star went on to land further serious roles in The Slaughter Rule, Murder by Numbers and The United States of Leland. However, it was a much more sentimental film that truly put him on the A-list.
Yes, in 2004 Gosling became a heartthrob when he appeared alongside Rachel McAdams in The Notebook, an adaptation of the romantic novel by Nicholas Sparks. The star even picked up multiple Teen Choice Awards for his performance as Noah Calhoun. Gosling didn’t choose to capitalize on his new-found pin-up status, however.
In fact, Gosling distanced himself from the role as much as possible. He subsequently played a troubled artist in Stay, a socially awkward man who develops a relationship with a blow-up sex doll in Lars and the Real Girl and a teacher who’s addicted to pharmaceuticals in Half Nelson. And Gosling’s fearlessness paid off when he picked up his first Academy Award nomination for the latter.
Occasionally, though, Gosling would embrace the mainstream. He appeared in the legal thriller Fracture alongside Anthony Hopkins, for example, made a rare venture into rom-com territory in Crazy, Stupid, Love and shared the screen with George Clooney in political tale The Ides of March. Nonetheless, Gosling always kept at least one foot in the indie world.
Indeed, one of the most celebrated performances of his career came in 2010’s famously downbeat relationship drama Blue Valentine. Later that same year, he starred alongside Kirsten Dunst as a man accused of murdering his wife in All Good Things. And then came one of the coolest movies of the decade.
In 2011 Gosling proved he could even cut it as an action star with the leading part in the ultra-slick, ultra-violent Drive. Indeed, despite a notable lack of dialog, the star lit up the screen as an unnamed stuntman with a sideline in getaway driving. And he was even compared to the late, great Marlon Brando by critics.
Funnily enough, Gosling also played a stuntman with criminal tendencies when he teamed up once more with Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance in The Place Beyond the Pines. He then enjoyed another reunion, this time with Drive helmer Nicolas Wending Refn, on Only God Forgives. Lightning didn’t strike twice, however, and the existential drama was panned upon its 2013 release.
After such a prolific run, Gosling subsequently decided to go on hiatus, although he didn’t abandon the industry completely. Indeed, in 2014 he took to the director’s chair for the first time on fantasy noir Lost River. However, like his previous acting effort, the movie was met with a scathing response from critics.
Thankfully, Gosling put his career back on track when he returned to life in front of the cameras in The Big Short, a satirical tale based on the real-life financial crisis of the late 2000s. The star then forged an unlikely dream team with Russell Crowe in the 1970s-set crime caper The Nice Guys. And next Gosling enjoyed the biggest box office success of his career.
Having previously appeared together in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad, Gosling and Emma Stone once again shared the screen in La La Land. A loving homage to the musicals of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Damien Chazelle’s picture raked in well in excess of $400 million at the box office. And Gosling’s performance was also rewarded with an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win.
Once again, Gosling followed up a major mainstream success with a low-budget arthouse picture, Terence Malick’s Song to Song. But he soon returned to blockbuster fare when he joined Harrison Ford in the long-awaited sequel, Blade Runner 2049. Gosling impressed as LAPD’s Officer K but despite strong reviews, the movie failed to set the box office alight.
Gosling then portrayed the first human being ever to step foot on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, in another picture directed by Damien Chazelle. First Man saw the star pick up a Critics’ Choice Movie Award nod for his measured performance. In the midst of such acclaim, however, what sometimes goes unnoticed is that Gosling’s talents aren’t restricted to the movie world.
In fact, long before his song-and-dance man routine in La La Land, Gosling showcased his musical talents in the alternative rock outfit Dead Man’s Bones. Their self-titled debut album hit the shelves in 2009 and received a glowing review from Pitchfork. The band also toured the U.S. and performed at the FYF Festival in Los Angeles before Gosling returned to his day job.
As for Gosling’s love life, well it seems fair to say that he’s had no qualms about mixing business with pleasure. In 2002, for example, he began dating Sandra Bullock, with whom he appeared in thriller Murder by Numbers. Then, in 2005 he entered into a relationship with his love interest in The Notebook, Rachel McAdams. And in 2011 he began stepping out with Eva Mendes, whom he shared the screen with in The Place Beyond the Pines.
Moreover, unlike his other high-profile romances, which fizzled out within a few years, Gosling’s relationship with Eva Mendes has lasted the distance. Indeed, the pair still very much remain an item and have two daughters together: Esmerelda, who arrived in 2014, and Amada, who was born two years later.
While Gosling may be a happily settled man nowadays, he’s still very much one of the most lusted-after actors in all of Hollywood. Indeed, People magazine has attempted to crown him their annual Sexiest Man Alive on a number of occasions. Unwilling to harm his “serious actor” credentials, however, Gosling has turned down the honor each and every time.
In fact, Gosling appears to be embarrassed about his sex symbol status. “I’m as uncomfortable with it as I am uncomfortable talking about it,” he once told Her World. “It’s not a real thing. It’s some kind of cosmic joke that’s going to be revealed. I think a lot of it is to do with the stigma that attaches to you from film, you know. I think anybody who was in The Notebook would be receiving similar comments.”
“I know from just being a guy looking at a billboard, you’re like, ‘That guy’s not a sex symbol. They’re trying to sell that guy? No way, that’s never gonna stick,’” Gosling continued. “And suddenly he’s a huge deal, and you can’t believe it. I used to hate those guys and now I’m one of them.”
And it turns out that the man himself isn’t the only major name who doesn’t get the whole Gosling love-in. In 2007 Gosling began working with Peter Jackson on The Lovely Bones. But just 48 hours prior to the first day of shooting, the Oscar-winning director decided to fire the actor. The reason? Gosling apparently wasn’t attractive enough!
Gosling had initially been cast as Jack Salmon, the father of a murdered young girl who makes it his mission to track down her killer. Even the star himself had reservations about his suitability from the offset, however. Indeed, Gosling always believed that he simply wasn’t old enough to take on such a part.
Alongside producer Fran Walsh, though, director Jackson initially managed to convince Gosling that the make-up department could help the actor to achieve the right look. But being something of a method actor, Gosling didn’t want to leave anything to chance. As a result, by the time he rocked up on set, he’d cultivated some serious facial hair and put on approximately 60 pounds!
Gosling’s dramatic weight gain was no doubt down to the unusual diet he implemented during the pre-production period. Every time the actor was thirsty, for example, he chose the most calorific drink he could possibly think of: Haagen Dazs’ finest ice cream in melted form. Unfortunately for Gosling, however, his efforts weren’t appreciated.
Indeed, perhaps understandably, Jackson and Walsh weren’t too impressed when Gosling turned up on set looking like a completely different person. The latter later told The Hollywood Reporter that she “began to feel he was not right. It was our blindness, the desire to make it work no matter what.” As a result, shortly afterwards Gosling was deemed surplus to requirements.
Gosling himself originally kept schtum about the creative differences that were reported at the time. But he eventually decided to reveal all three years later in a roundtable interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Referring to the role in The Lovely Bones, Gosling said, “We had a different idea of how the character should look. I really believed he should be 210 pounds.”
Of course, it may well have helped Gosling’s cause had he discussed this with Jackson and Walsh before making such a drastic change to his appearance. And to be fair, the star does shoulder much of the blame. “We didn’t talk very much during the pre-production process, which was the problem,” he admitted.
“It was a huge movie, and there’s so many things to deal with, and [Jackson] couldn’t deal with the actors individually,” Gosling continued. “I just showed up on set, and I had gotten it wrong.” In fact, Gosling perhaps couldn’t have gotten it more wrong even if he’d tried.
And Gosling certainly paid the price for his misjudged character interpretation. “I really believed in it,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I was excited about it. I showed up, and they said, ‘You look terrible.’ And I said, ‘I know! Isn’t it great?’ ‘No, it’s not. Go hit the treadmill.’ Then I was fat and unemployed.”
Speaking at the roundtable with the likes of Colin Firth, James Franco and Robert Duvall, Gosling appeared to concede that his firing was the right decision. “It’s the director’s movie,” he said. “But if you can’t get on board with that vision, then you’re going to secretly be sort of sabotaging it.”
However, Peter Jackson also seems willing to accept some blame for the matter judging by an interview he gave to Entertainment Weekly in 2009. Referring to Gosling’s exit, he said, “We take responsibility for that, because we kept saying to Ryan, ‘No, no, it’ll be fine,’ when he said he was too young.”
In the end, Mark Wahlberg was chosen to replace Gosling as the grieving father in the adaptation of Alice Sebold’s best-seller. And this was a casting decision that was subsequently given Gosling’s seal of approval. “Peter [Jackson] and I tried to make it work, and ultimately it just didn’t,” he told Parade in 2007. “I think the film is much better off with Mark Wahlberg in that role.”
Moreover, there didn’t appear to be any hard feelings, either. “The media always slant things in a negative direction,” Gosling added. “If somebody said I was easy to work with, they’d make that sound bad, too. Peter Jackson is an incredible filmmaker, and I’m here to tell you he has things up his sleeve that are going to blow people’s minds. I’m going to be the first person in line to buy tickets.”
Whether Gosling was as enthusiastic about the movie when he saw the finished product remains to be seen. In fact, The Lovely Bones didn’t exactly wow critics when it finally hit cinemas in December 2009. New York’s Daily News described the movie as a “gumball-colored potboiler that’s more squalid than truly mournful,” for example, while Roger Ebert labelled it “deplorable.”
Thankfully for Peter Jackson, Mark Wahlberg and co., though, the general public was a little more receptive. The film took just over $17 million it its first weekend to place third in the U.S. box office chart and eventually grossed nearly $94 million globally, roughly $30 million more than its budget.
Gosling also discussed his The Lovely Bones ordeal while promoting Blue Valentine in 2011. During an interview with Den of Geek, he admitted that his misguided weight gain plan left him utterly miserable. “It was not a fun time,” he confessed. “And it’s not good for you. I don’t know how Christian Bale does it. It’s incredible what he does. Really. I’m in awe of his commitment. But it’s your job, though. Every job has its downside.”
Thankfully, Gosling certainly seems to have learned his lesson. His Blue Valentine character Dean Pereira was actually written as being much heavier than Gosling’s usual trim self. But perhaps burned by the response to his last major image overhaul, in that instance Gosling decided against piling on too many pounds in preparation for the shoot.
“I was supposed to put on a lot of weight, but I got concerned that people would walk out of the film and feel like, ‘Aw, well, if he hadn’t have let himself go, it would have worked out,’” Gosling told Den of Geek. “You know, ‘If he’d have just hit the treadmill, it would have been fine.’ So, we didn’t want it to be too extreme.”