Best Actor: Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine - Total Film Magazine - 2011 (March)
This article is from the magazine Total Film Magazine, dated March 2011, featuring Ryan Gosling.The high-res magazine scans are from Gosling Fan.
Best Actor - Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine
"Awards are an honor," Ryan Gosling admits uncomfortably when Total Film, sharing a sofa in the Soho Hotel, tells him he should win the Oscar for his fearless, charismatic, naked (in every way) and unforgettable turn as a lover/husband in Blue Valentine. "There's no way around that. But what they're really doing for small movies is giving them a life that they would never have without them. There are so many options out there for movies [to see], so why see yours? It kind of makes your job so much easier. The award does the talking for you. And sometimes these little movies just strike a chord with people..."
Blue Valentine has certainly struck a chord with audiences, ever since its buzzy debut at last year's Sundance. Writer/director Derek Cianfrance's charming and uncomfortable look at a couple's courting loveliness as they fall in love, and also their exhaustion, cruelty, nostalgia and sadness as they fall out of love, is certainly potently lensed, directed and written. But the magic arguably happens with Gosling, his nuanced smirks and furrowed brow creating fascinating ambiguity in Dean - a hopeless romantic/stalker, a dreamer/dick, a loser/fighter. (Which is he to Gosling? "Oh, man, I don't care, as long as Total Film is interested in it, we did alright. It's a nice idea to have people sitting around talking about it.")
Though Cianfrance gave Gosling and co-star Michelle Williams the creative space to develop their all-too-recognisable characters (the duo lived in their onscreen home for a whole month and shared chores), he also demanded they fill in their own blanks. Like the quirky, lovely scene where Dean and Cindy flirt in a shop doorway during a first date and he warbles a tune while strumming a ukulele and Cindy shyly tap-dances. "Derek wanted us to have talents that were specific to the characters and not us. So I picked the ukulele and Michelle picked tap dancing." Gosling also made savvy choices on other specifics from the crummy glasses Dean sports (his real-life uncle's specs - "people are saying they're like Terry Richardson glasses, but my uncle's been doing that for 40 years...") to Dean's jumbled motivation, "[Cianfrance will] give you point A and B, and you have to draw the line," Gosling says. "But however you want to draw the line is up to you. You can do it any color or pattern, but you've just got to get from these two points."
That line and color in Gosling's hands is a seductive mix of bravado and vulnerability that is difficult to watch, impossible not to. His Dean is goofy, aggressive, needy, emasculated, virile, tender, cruel - a guy who wears his heart on sleeve, no matter how ugly that may look. "These kinds of guys I run into in my life, I feel a lot about them," admits Gosling, still passionate about his Blue Valentine character months after leaving him behind. "On one level I admire them, what they want is so simple, and yet I'm so angry with them because they don't want more. They're the kind of guys everybody likes, but nobody really respects. They have this charm because they're so in the moment, they have no real awareness of the world around them. But I feel a lot for them, I wanted to put a pin in tem as a person and this movie was an opportunity to do that."
Gosling's expert pinning of a type means to watch Dean is to watch a character we all have been, known, dated, hated, or loved. To feel emotionally connected to blue Valentine. "Most movies are arrogant, they pretend to know everything, and try to tell you how it is." Gosling shrugs. "We wanted to make a movie that was made in the image of a man." Job done - on both an artistic and connective level. But will the Academy recognise the emotional lengths Gosling went to that surely rival Mark Wahlberg's physical transformation or Jeff Bridges' authentic drawl? They will no doubt give the gong to Colin Firth's king (past glory politics, period drama gloss), but if this was strictly about performance and heart they should be rewarding this very common man.
Still, the overlooked are often the ones that go on to be cinematic classics - the ones that are hard to forget, let go. Blue Valentine certainly seems to have captured Gosling as much as any of the destroyed audiences who have and will watch it. "[Michelle and I] both had a hard time even taking our wedding bands off," Gosling frowns. "We created these people and they fell in love. It's hard to say goodbye to that." Indeed.
By Jane Crowther
Blue Valentine is out now. For more exclusive chat with Ryan go to totalfilm.com