The Canadian actor reveals why he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to channel his idol Gene Kelly in romantic musical La La Land.
"Ive always loved An American in Paris and Singin’ in the Rain – Gene Kelly gave us some of the single greatest song and dance numbers ever,” reveals an uncharacteristically wistful Ryan Gosling, who dons his dancing shoes in latest film La La Land. Created by Damien Chazelle, the Oscar-nominated director of Whiplash, the film is a glorious throwback to old-style Hollywood musicals and is already being touted as a major Oscar contender.
“I’m a big fan of musicals and Damien is a serious student of the genre; his ambition was to capture the spirit of those movies and also pay homage to the city of Los Angeles,” reveals the actor.
Gosling plays Sebastian, a cynical jazz pianist who is fast becoming a star in Hollywood, unlike his lover Mia (Emma Stone), a barista and struggling actress who can’t seem to get a break. The film follows the season of their romance as they both eventually achieve their longed-for success, only to find it threatens their fragile love for one another. Bathed in a nostalgic glow, the film serves to remind us of a simpler time in Hollywood as its stars sashay and tap dance to the song of old Los Angeles. We are also reminded of the irresistible chemistry between Gosling and super-babe Stone, who have wowed us once before in 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love.
“Not everyone might like musicals, but in this case you’re emotionally invested in the story because you feel very close to Mia and Sebastian,” explains the 35-year-old Canadian heartthrob. “I wanted to do the film because I think it takes you on this beautiful ride.”
Having grown so used to seeing Gosling play the dark and brooding anti-hero in dramas Drive and The Place Beyond the Pines, it is refreshing to see him cut loose and have some fun. “I often take my work and myself too seriously, so getting to do this film and Nice Guys was a great way for me to be able to get to talk a lot, open up more, and make people laugh and enjoy themselves,” he says.
Whilst we don’t associate him with musical theatre, Gosling actually started out performing on The Mickey Mouse Show when he was a kid, but admits that the intricate and graceful routines were a far cry from his '90s hip hop dancing days. “When I signed on to the film, I foolishly expected that my lost dance skills would come back to me pretty quickly. But I was wrong! Nothing came back,” he reveals with a laugh.
Currently filming Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s original 1982 sci-fi cult classic, the star admits that since becoming a father to daughters, Esmeralda, 2, and Amada, born in April, with girlfriend Eva Mendes, he is less inclined to work long hours on set, saying: “I enjoy being a father more than I could ever have imagined... It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Now that we have two girls I find myself wanting to stay at home with them all the time.”
No wonder he has so much to sing and dance about.
Interview by Karen Anne Overton
La La Land is in cinemas Boxing Day.