Family & Companions
Before becoming one of the most bankable romantic leads of his generation, Ryan Gosling established himself with misfit outsider roles in award-winning independent films like "The Believer" (2001), "Half Nelson" (2006) and "Lars and the Real Girl" (2007), with a believability that could only come from someone who had struggled with unease and dissatisfaction in their own life. Perhaps his awkward professional start in ill-suited endeavors like a stint as a cast member on the "Mickey Mouse Club" (Disney Channel, 1988-1995) and the short-lived fantasy series "Young Hercules" (Fox, 1998-99) also provided fodder for the disaffected roles the young actor would later craft with such voracity. Turns in higher-profile romantic dramas such as "The Notebook" (2004), combined with much publicized relationships with co-stars like Rachel McAdams brought Gosling a certain amount of heartthrob celebrity, although the actor doggedly avoided the "Hollywood Star" persona. After a brief absence from the screen in the late 2000s, Gosling reappeared at decade's end with two hard to classify performances - first, in the fact-based murder mystery "All Good Things" (2010), then in the romantic drama "Blue Valentine" (2010), the latter of which was a small, independent labor of love that earned him critical raves. With his stoic performance as an unnamed antihero in the neo-noir "Drive" (2011), Gosling had firmly established himself as one Hollywood's most interesting and unpredictable rising actors. Moving with ease from moody dramas like "The Place Beyond the Pines" (2012) and the knockabout comedy of '70s-set action flick "The Nice Guys" (2016) to the old-school Hollywood glamour of romantic musical "La La Land" (2016) and gritty, philosophical science fiction with "Blade Runner 2049" (2017), Ryan Gosling seemingly could do anything and do it brilliantly.
Ryan Gosling was born on Nov. 12, 1980, in London, Ontario. He seemed to be at odds with his surroundings from the very beginning, and somehow got the idea in his head that being an entertainer would be an easy ticket out of his working class mill city. Gosling had some success doing dance routines on a local talent TV show, but offstage, had trouble with academics and socializing in school. In fact, after a particularly grisly fight on school grounds, he left to be home schooled instead. In 1992, he brought his dance moves to an audition for the Disney Channel's revival of "The Mickey Mouse Club" (1989-1994), winning a spot alongside future singing stars Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. The untrained entertainer's talents proved to be limited alongside the cast of hardcore "child performers," so Gosling found himself relegated to a lot of peripheral roles as a back-up dancer.
Gosling persevered, moving to Los Angeles on his own when he was 16 years old. He immediately landed work, delivering a well received turn as a British foundling in an episode of "The Road to Avonlea" (CBC, 1990-96; aired in America on Disney Channel), which brought him a Gemini Award nomination. In 1997, Gosling was tapped to play the smooth-talking hypochondriac Sean Hanlon in "Breaker High" (USA Network, 1997-98), a series about a high school set on a cruise ship. His goofy charm and blond, vulnerable looks earned him teen pin-up status, which was further enhanced by his casting as "Young Hercules" (Fox, 1998-99), a sort of prequel to the popular series starring Kevin Sorbo. Gosling was fairly devastated when the show was cancelled and even considered getting out of acting, in light of his bad programming luck, but he returned from the show's set in New Zealand to L.A., where his personal and professional breakthroughs were right around the corner.
Gosling made the transition to the big screen with a small role in the football drama, "Remember the Titans" (2000), but it was an offer from independent director Henry Bean to star in "The Believer" (2001) that made Gosling finally recognize his potential. Through playing an articulate and intelligent young Jewish teen who becomes involved with a neo-Nazi group, Gosling understood the power of acting for both the actor and the audience - how it was a tool to explore human nature and try to understand life. He had never been asked to work with material of this depth, and his innate grasp of conflicted human emotions helped the film pick up the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. He took on the role of another conflicted teen who forms an emotional bond with his football coach in "The Slaughter Rule" (2002), which was roundly praised by critics for avoiding the pitfalls of sports film clichés, as well as for its captivating performance by Gosling. He was lured into big budget territory with a promisingly dark story about a murderous teen trying to outwit an FBI agent (Sandra Bullock) in "Murder by Numbers" (2002).
Gosling next delivered an adroit turn as the autistic Leland in the indie "The United States of Leland" (2004), before landing his breakout mainstream role playing the romantic lead opposite Rachel McAdams in Nick Cassavetes' emotional "The Notebook" (2004). Cast against type after Cassavetes saw "The Believer" and thought the actor had unexplored depths, Gosling delivered a warm and charming performance buoyed by a heartbreaking depression that elevated his status among the actors of his generation. Next came Marc Forster's ambitious psychological thriller "Stay" (2005), about a shrink (Ewan McGregor) whose suicidal patient (Gosling) somehow begins invading his dreams and blurring the lines of their realities and individualities. That same year, Gosling traveled to the battle-torn Darfur region of Uganda and began writing a film about the tragedy of child soldiers. He was also a spokesperson for Invisible Children, an organization seeking to improve conditions for Ugandan children of war. He even addressed the State Department about the need for a U.S. presence and facilitation of a peace process in Darfur.
With "Half Nelson" (2006), it was announced to the entire Oscar-following world that Gosling was a serious contender. He gave a stellar performance as an idealistic and inspirational inner-city teacher who engages in an after school drug habit which is discovered by a troubled student (Shareeka Epps), leading to an unexpected friendship that threatens to either undo them both or bring about the change they both desperately need. Gosling again countered his character's dark side with a believable charm that made the character unexpectedly sympathetic - enough that he was recognized with a Best Male Breakthrough Performance award from the National Board of Review and one for Best Male Lead from the Independent Spirit Awards. In an almost unheard of Hollywood occurrence, the little-known independent actor found himself nominated for a Best Actor Oscar nomination alongside box office heavy-hitters Leonardo DiCaprio, Peter O'Toole, Will Smith and Forest Whitaker.
Hot off his Academy Award nomination, Gosling matched wits with acclaimed actor Anthony Hopkins in the well-reviewed courtroom thriller, "Fracture" (2007). He returned to independent film to take on another societal misfit in "Lars and the Real Girl" (2007), playing a small town introvert who begins to break out of his shell with the help of a life-like female doll he orders off the Internet. The offbeat comedy earned rave reviews and again Gosling was hailed as among the best up-and-coming actors of his generation; enough that his oddball performance garnered him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
Around this time, Gosling dropped out of the public eye for a time before resurfacing in the romantic mystery "All Good Things" (2010), co-starring Kirsten Dunst. Troubled relationships appeared to be a running theme for Gosling, when that same year he starred opposite Michelle Williams in the romantic drama "Blue Valentine" (2010). In the intimate tale of love and loss, Gosling and Williams portrayed a young couple charting the course of their once idyllic - now unbearably painful - relationship over the years. The small independent film received strong critical praise, and earned Gosling a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Drama that year.
Gosling had a banner year in 2011 with three widely divergent roles that earned him widespread critical acclaim and greatly increased his audience appeal. He had his first comedic turn opposite Steve Carell and Julianne Moore in Glenn Ficarra's romantic comedy-drama, "Crazy, Stupid, Love" (2011), playing a womanizer who meets his match in a young woman (Emma Stone) who refuses his advances. He next starred in the indie neo-noir, "Drive" (2011), a crime thriller in which he played an anonymous stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver and runs afoul of a pair of mobsters (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman) after falling for a married woman (Carey Mulligan). The film was hailed by critics and earned Gosling some of the highest marks of his career, which led to some serious Oscar buzz and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actor. Meanwhile, he delivered another fine turn as a campaign manager for a Democratic candidate for president (George Clooney) in the political thriller "The Ides of March" (2011). The role earned Gosling more award recognition, this time in the form of a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a motion picture drama.
From there, Gosling had a relatively quiet 2012, but returned the following year with a starring role in "Gangster Squad" (2013), a period crime drama set in 1940s Los Angeles. Gosling played a reluctant LAPD officer recruited by a headstrong cop (Josh Brolin) to take part in a guerilla-style war against Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) and his thugs. A few months later, Gosling reunited with "Blue Valentine" director Derek Cianfrance for "The Place Beyond the Pines" (2013), where he played a motorcycle stunt rider who turns to robbing banks in order to support his new family, only end up on a collision course with a rookie police officer (Bradley Cooper). Gosling next starred in "Only God Forgives" (2013) working again with Refn for another hard-hitting and moody thriller, this time set in Thailand. The movie proved to be very divisive and only reinforced Gosling's tendencies towards following his own muse-or the muse of an intriguingly eccentric filmmaker. Fittingly enough, around this time, he joined the cast of a typically secretive Terrence Malick production, eventually released as "Song To Song" (2017), and also undertook his own debut as a director and screenwriter, "Lost River" (2014), with Mendes, Christina Hendricks and British actor Matt Smith joining the cast. A lead role in Adam McKay's comedy-drama about the 2008 financial meltdown, "The Big Short" (2015), was followed by Shane Black's good-natured '70s throwback "The Nice Guys" (2016), an action comedy pairing Gosling's hapless private detective with Russell Crowe's hired muscle on the case of a porn star's mysterious death. Gosling next reteamed with Emma Stone for the third time in Damien Chazelle's melancholy musical romance "La La Land" (2016). Drawing on his own background as a pianist to play idealistic jazz musician Sebastian Wilder, Gosling did his own playing, singing and dancing for the film, a box office success that scored 14 Academy Award nominations, including a Best Actor nod for Gosling. Gosling next appeared in Denis Villeneuve's "Blade Runner 2049" (2017), a sequel to Ridley Scott's 1982 original that pitted Gosling alongside that film's star Harrison Ford. The film was released to enthusiastic reviews in October 2017.
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Made early TV appearance on Canadian variety series "Homegrown Cafe"
Cast as one of the Mouseketeers on "Mickey Mouse Club" (Disney Channel), appeared alongside JC Chasez, Keri Russell, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera
Played a UFO abductee on an episode of Canadian series "PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal"
Portrayed an English orphan on an episode of "The Road to Avonlea;" received Gemini Award nomination
Landed leading role in "Frankenstein and Me" (Disney Channel)
Played regular role of Sean Hanlon on "Breaker High" (UPN)
Essayed title role on Fox series "Young Hercules"
Portrayed a football player dealing with team integration in 1970s-set "Remember the Titans"
Garnered widespread praise for his starring turn as a Jewish neo-Nazi in "The Believer"
Cast opposite Sandra Bullock in crime thriller "Murder by Numbers"
Played a small-town high school football player in "The Slaughter Rule"
Starred as Leland P. Fitzgerald in "The United States of Leland," about a young man's experience in a juvenile detention center
Co-starred opposite fellow Canadian Rachel McAdams in romantic drama "The Notebook," based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks
Portrayed a suicidal client opposite Ewan McGregor, who makes bizarre predictions that begin to come true in Marc Forster's "Stay"
Starred in "Half Nelson," the feature adaptation of Ryan Fleck's Sundance-winning short film "Gowanus, Brooklyn"
Co-starred in drama thriller "Fracture" as a hot-shot prosecutor opposite Anthony Hopkins
Played a man in love with a life-sized sex toy in indie film "Lars and the Real Girl"
Starred as a heir to a New York real estate fortune whose wife (Kirsten Dunst) disappears in "All Good Things"
Co-starred with Michelle Williams as a married couple in "Blue Valentine"
Co-starred in "The Ides of March" with George Clooney, who also directed, co-wrote, and produced
Delivered first comedic role as a womanizer in "Crazy, Stupid, Love," co-starring Steve Carell and Emma Stone
Starred as a Hollywood stunt performer in crime drama "Drive"
Played a mysterious motorcycle racer opposite Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes in "The Place Beyond the Pines"
Starred in Refn's "Only God Forgives"
Began production on his directorial debut, "Lost River"
Appeared as Sgt. Jerry Wooters opposite Sean Penn and Josh Brolin in crime drama "Gangster Squad"; film reunited him with "Crazy, Stupid, Love" co-star Emma Stone
Appeared as Jared Vennett in "The Big Short"
Co-starred with Russell Crowe in '70s throwback "The Nice Guys"
Re-teamed with Emma Stone for Hollywood musical revival "La La Land"
Nominated for 2017 Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for "La La Land"; lost to Casey Affleck for "Manchester by the Sea"
Starred as the replicant cop K in Denis Villeneuve's masterful sequel "Blade Runner 2049"
Followed up science fiction with science fact as Neil Armstrong in "First Man"