Face it, 2011 is the Year of the Gosling. After missing out on a second Oscar nod for last years' "Blue Valentine" by thiiiis much (he was previously nominated for "Half Nelson" in 2006), there's no doubt the 30-year-old actor will win an Academy Award; the only question is when. Could it be for his forthcoming turn in George Clooney's "Ides of March"? Or will Ryan Gosling's latest film, "Drive," a gritty, viscerally violent, nouveau noir tale of a laconic stunt driver and part-time wheelman on a heist that goes horribly awry, be the one that earns him a statuette?
Speaking to him over tea one afternoon in a hotel suite at the Four Seasons, just hours before "Drive" opened the LA Film Festival, Gosling says he and director Nicolas Winding Refn ("Bronson," the "Pusher" trilogy), known for films with meditative pacing followed by graphic swaths of violence, "creatively 'effed' in my car the night we first met and we gave birth to a movie baby."
As bizarrely romantic as that may sound, Gosling says the pair, whose creative coupling Refn has compared to Scorsese and De Niro's, didn't hit it off at first.
"We had a terrible first meeting, it was like a bad first date," Gosling admits. "It was clear that this wasn't going anywhere and I just wanted it to be done. And so did he." After getting the check early, Refn announced he needed a ride to Santa Monica. They got in Gosling's car, they didn't talk, and "it was awful, I turned on the radio to fill this terrible silence." On came REO Speedwagon's "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore," "which I did in a way to piss him off because I thought he wouldn't be into that type of music," Gosling says. "But instead, he started crying and singing at the top of his lungs. He started banging his knees and singing, 'I can't fight this feeling anymore!” and crying. And I thought, 'This is my dude!'"
Gosling explains that both he and Refn wanted the film, which vacillates between being a touching love story and a gruesome action ride, to reflect some unlikely influences, including "Sixteen Candles."
"We both loved John Hughes movies," Gosling beams, "and we agreed that 'Pretty in Pink' would be a masterpiece if it had head smashing. We wanted to find a way to balance that innocence with violence as well."
The actor also relished the opportunity to play a character who was a "self-appointed superhero. What appealed to me about this script, which wasn't necessarily in the story but had the potential to be, was that this was a person who had seen too many movies and subconsciously had become some amalgamation of all of them. I was heavily affected by movies I saw when I was a kid. I saw 'First Blood' and then I filled my Fisher Price Houdini kit up with steak knives and took it to school and threw it at all the kids at recess because I thought I was Rambo. I saw 'Rocky' and went in the parking lot and picked a fight and got my ass kicked because I thought I could fight like Rocky."
"Drive" opens everywhere Friday