Friday, 13 January 2012

Interview: Ryan Gosling talks Clooney's pranks, Drive, future projects & his band

With the imminent release of a trio of Ryan Gosling films (Crazy, Stupid, Love and Drive are due out at the end of January), The Ides of March is not only his first politically focused role, but his first encounter with legendary talent (and prankster) George Clooney.

The following is an interview with Ryan Gosling from September of last year: 

What can you tell about your character Stephen Myers, that young idealist campaign strategist working for a democrat governor hoping to gain the nomination of his party in the next presidential race?
I think he is well intended and wants to affect the changes in the country and he is faced with that moral dilemma with his candidate [played by George Clooney ], and so he does the dishonourable thing which is to jump ship so he can eventually get into the White House and affects change. He severs his heart from his brain at a certain point and struggles and fails to connect.

How toxic do you think it is to be involved in politics and power?
Pretty toxic even though I was not that involved in the world itself. Just the filming. The thing I like about the film is that it’s set in this political world but you don’t really need to know much about politics in order to enjoy it. It could be set in Hollywood or on Wall Street for that matter.

Do you see a parallel in the movie with Hollywood? Is it hard to keep ones integrity through the process and to make it?
I think it’s very hard to be honest for the jobs. You can’t really tell the truth because everything you say is cut off, taken out of context. You have to be careful about what you say. So I related to the character in that way.

Did you ask George why he chose you?
Well he said he chose me because everyone else said no! No one else was available! But that’s fine with me.

Did you see his previous films as a director?
Yes and I loved them. It’s interesting: I was on a plane right before I went to do The Ides of March. In the classics category for movies on the little screen in the seat, there were five: 2001, Citizen Kane, Good Night, and Good luck and 2 others. And I thought whoa. With only having made three others, he’s made an impact. More than anything I love his television shows. Unscripted was incredible. The style and originality. Very experimental.  So strange. And K Street is one of my favorites.

Describe George Clooney as a director?
Well, he’s very specific and he knows exactly what he wants. There are not a lot of ambiguity in his decisions and directions.

How different is it to be directed by a director who is also an actor?
It did not feel that different. When he was directing, he was able to kind of compartmentalise to a degree which was interesting. But he was doing so much you know. It’s his project. He co-wrote it, directed it, produced it, and starred in it. At the same time he is checking the situation in Darfur on his cell phones. And he has twenty, at least ten practical jokes in the works at all time. Multitasking you know!

George’s inspiration was some of the iconic seventies films like Network, The Candidate or All the President’s Men. Did he ask you to watch those or others to get a feel of what he wanted?
Actually he didn’t. He had us watch a lot of documentaries not those films. He didn’t specifically ask although he referenced them a lot while we were making it. I guess he just assumed we had seen them and did not want to live in a world where we hadn't!

He is famous for playing pranks. How did you deal with it? Did you have to be on the alert all the time?
Yes you do have to be on the alert all the time.

Did he get you?
Yes he did.

Did you get him back?
No. It’s impossible.

What do you think the reaction for the public and political world to Ides of March will be?
I have no idea. I don’t think George was making a political statement or that the movie has a political message but I do think he was interested in starting a dialogue. And it will be interesting to see what that dialogue is.

What does the poster represent for you? Those two faces, yours and George’s characters kind of blending…maybe means that in the end, it doesn’t really matter who is the president?
No, it says that George Clooney is trying to show how much better looking he is! My mother saw that and called me. She was so excited and said “You are on the cover of Time magazine”! But I told her it was just the poster for the movie!

How different is it for you as an actor to play a silent type character like in Drive, compared with Ides of March where you have so much dialogues? What do you like more as an actor?
They were different experiences and each offered something different. A kind of balance. I feel there is something nice about not talking. Like you can say more by actually saying less. It’s nice to have space in the film and the silence. So, it’s much rarer to be able to work that way. I enjoyed it.

How was it working with Nicholas on Drive?
We are just wildly different guys but I think we share a brain. I’ll have an idea and he’ll have the exact same idea. When we first met, I had the feeling that the film should be about driving and not about driving fast but just the actual experience of driving, sitting in your car listening to music. The first thing he said to me was that this movie should be about a guy driving around in a car around listening to music. The only way he knows how to feel and I thought how can I be so different from this person and at the same time we are sharing the same dream. Right now we are trying to exploit that…

What is next for you?
Right now I am working on The Gangster Squad, a 1950’s gangster picture, with Sean Penn who is playing the mobster Mickey Cohen, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Robert Patrick, Michael Pena… A great cast.

How is it to be working with such amazing actors?
Scary! A lot of them are my favorite actors in some ways, so it was a huge opportunity for me and they all have very different styles in the process so it was interesting to have to go between those processes with them.

You seemed to have been working no stop, you are everywhere, the “It Boy” of the moment. How changed is your life with all that attention?
Well I am pretty sick with myself! It seemed a pretty good idea at the time. Around the time I turned 30, I started to feel very creative, more creative than I had been before which is good and I like that.

Is directing something you would like to try?
Sure. Yeah. I have plans. But I’ll wait until they happen because something could always interfere…Like checks I can’t cash.

How different is the pleasure of acting for you today compared to when you started?
Yes it’s different. I am at a point where I want to work with the same filmmakers over and over. I used to have a whole list of guys I wanted to work with but I am at the point where I want to work with the same ones. I have been really lucky between Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) and Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive). I just finished another film with Derek called Beyond the Pines and it was the best experience of my life and I can’t wait for people to see it. Derek is a very special filmmaker. It is very different from Blue Valentine and the performances are great. Bradley Cooper; people are not going to believe how great he is and Eva Mendes; it is the best performance I’ve been around to see.

You recorded an album two years ago with your group. What are your tastes in music?
I grew up listening to a lot of fifties and sixties. That’s what was in our house. Buddy Holly, Del Shannon, The Shangri Las… It gave me a taste for that style of music. And I still listen to those a lot.

We have to know: what car are you driving?
Oh, I’m driving my car from Drive!

The Ides of March will be reviewed next month ahead of its Blu-ray & DVD release.