Ryan Gosling may be one of Hollywood’s hottest leading men and a heart-throb at that, but he doesn’t shy away from tough-guy violence. In fact, he believes it suits him sometimes, as he plays a hardcore driver in his newest film, Drive.
In the film that reaches theatres on September 30, Gosling plays a Hollywood stuntman who becomes embroiled in a heist gone wrong. The high-octane thriller also has a John Hughes-inspired, sentimental young romance brewing between Gosling and his co-star, Carey Mulligan. “I always wanted to make a violent John Hughes film. I love John Hughes films, I love Pretty in Pink, but I always thought if there were more head-smashing in it, it’d be the most perfect film ever,” Gosling told in an interview.
The 30 year-old actor was nominated for an Oscar in 2007 for his film Half Nelson in which he played a drug-addicted school teacher. He has won over critics, fans and even Hollywood players with performances in a wide range of independent film dramas such as Blue Valentine and Lars and the Real Girl.
Yet, Gosling says, it was hard finding a film-maker with a shared vision for the romantic thriller Drive, until he ran into Dutch director Nicolas Winding Refn, whose credits include crime dramas like Pusher and Bronson — a film about a prisoner who adapts the personality of film action hero Charles Bronson as his alter ego. In Drive, however, Refn avoids Hollywood glitz and portrays a dark side to the City of Angels in his latest venture. “I saw Nicholas’ work and I knew that Refn would have the same sensibility,” says Gosling.
Driven to love
Gosling’s character, simply known as the mysterious ‘Driver’, is a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for anyone who wants to hire his driving services and his intricate knowledge of Los Angeles’ back streets.
Leading a largely transient and solitary life, the Driver finds himself drawn to his neighbour Irene (played by Carey Mulligan), a mother of one, whose husband is in prison. When Irene’s husband Standard (played by Oscar Isaac) is released from jail, the Driver decides to help the ex-con clear his debts. But events take a wrong turn and the Driver finds himself in danger.
Throughout Drive, Gosling conveys most of his character’s feelings and emotions through pensive gazes as his character is given very few dialogues. “I don’t think you need all this talking in films. Sometimes, it’s easier to get the point across if you’re not saying something,” states Gosling. “For me, dialogues get in the way. So it was a real relief to just take them out. People can watch it and make their own assessments of what they think the characters are going through.”
The film was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where Refn was named best director and critics gave a favourable response to Drive. The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy calls Gosling’s performance a “bid to enter the iconic ranks of tough, self-possessed American screen actors like Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin”.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2011.