In the romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling plays an arrogant womanizer who likes to show off his chiseled physique and who considers himself an expert on the art of seduction. In real life, the last thing that Gosling likes to talk about in interviews his body and his sex appeal. But the questions are inevitable while he promotes the movie, whose trailers play up the ladies’ man aspects of Gosling’s playboy Jacob Palmer character.
While hanging out at his favorite bar, Jacob sees a middle-aged sad sack named Cal Weaver (played by Steve Carell), who has been dumped by his wife, Emily (played by Oscar nominee Julianne Moore). Cal is trying to get back into the dating scene but failing miserably, so Jacob takes pity on Cal and offers to “train” him on how to pick up women. Meanwhile, Jacob’s life takes an unexpected turn when he falls for recent law-school grad Hannah (played by Emma Stone), who decides to give Jacob a chance to date her after she initially rejects him. When I sat down with Gosling at the New York City press junket for “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” he showed his quick wit and dry sense of humor that made it obvious why the filmmakers thought he was perfect for “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” which his first major comedy film.
There’s a scene in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” where Jacob shows Hannah his “Dirty Dancing” move as one of his seduction techniques. Is it true that was your idea and it wasn’t originally in the script?
Well, I stole the “Dirty Dancing” [move] from “Dirty Dancing.” When I go out dancing with my friends and we get drunk, we try to do the “Dirty Dancing” moves, so that’s where it came from, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. You’re drunk, so you’re loosened up. I’m resilient.
Have you ever tried to use that “Dirty Dancing” move in real life when you’re dating someone?
I never used that used it on a girl. I just do it with my friends. I tried to do it on Emma Stone, but she wouldn’t let me. She was too scared I was going to drop her.
So that was a stunt double?
Yeah. I kept trying to lift her up, and he whole body would turn into a bagful of rats. I tried to wrangle it, and she was like, “You’re going to drop me. You’re going to drop me.” And she said, “Prove it.”
And we bring a stunt lady in, and I did it 10 times in front of her, and never dropped this young lady. And when it was over, Emma was like, “Well, now that you’ve done it 10 times, you’ve got to be tired. I can’t.”
The “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” cast and filmmakers have been raving about your improvisational skills. Is there any improv-heavy project you’d like to do in the future?
No. I don’t want to improv. They make me. They get bored. They’re like, “Be funnier. Make something up. Entertain us. Dance, monkey!”
Do you want to host “Saturday Night Live”?
I’m too scared. I had to get up the guts to do [“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”]
But your performance in “Blue Valentine” was mostly improvised, wasn’t it?
Again, I had no choice. The director was like, “I’m bored. Surprise me.”
What scared you about “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”?
I’d never done a comedy before. I’d never done a film like this before, so that was scary.
Is that why you did the movie?
No, I did it because of Steve Carell. I just loved him. I think he’s the best. When I first went out to Los Angeles, I did a [TV] pilot. I was 17, and I had a small part, and so did Steve. He was so funny that I would go to set to watch him work.
One time, he was so funny that the boom guy had to throw down his mic and have a laugh attack in the corner. I’d just never seen anyone who was so good that it was a problem. And so I just became a fan.
I watched “The Daily Show” and I watched all of his movies. I even liked him in that movie “Over the Hedge,” where he plays a squirrel who loves energy drinks. When I heard that there was a film with a part that I could have, I just wanted it. I would’ve done anything, really. I just got lucky that it was such a good role and great directors and a great cast.
Did Steve Carell remember working with you on that TV pilot?
No. When I went in for the meeting with him [for “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”], I thought I had it in the bag, because we had already worked together. He didn’t remember.
You slap Steve Carell on the face many times in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Steve told the directors that you intended to slap him a lot. Is that true?
He likes to get slapped. He’s a tank. Sometimes I would haul off and let it rip — and nothing, no reaction from him. He’s very strong.
What’s your relationship like with Steve Carell off screen?
He’s married with kids, so he can’t really hang out, but I think he wants to hang out. He’s busy.
There are multiple scenes in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” in which you’re shirtless or nearly naked. Is it true that you trained to get in shape specifically for “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”?
[He says jokingly] James Cameron invented this program called “Avatar.” “Just wear this motion-capture suit and you’ll have muscles when you look at the scene.” That’s all. It’s true.
Let’s talk about Jacob Palmer with his clothes on. He’s very fashion-conscious. Did you have a say in what kinds of clothes that Jacob wore?
Yeah, but I worked with this woman named Dayna Pink, and she designed the costumes for the film, and she really helped me put that look together. She found all those nice suits.
Did you get to keep any of the outfits that you wore in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”?
No, they wouldn’t let me. Can you believe it? All these nice suits just tailored for me, sitting in a warehouse somewhere. I don’t see what good that does anybody. I could wear them right now.
At this point in your career, do you feel more comfortable seeing a movie you do for the first time in a private screening or at a big premiere?
It’s never good. There’s no way to do it. You have to see it once and then never see again. The last time I watched “Half Nelson” for the first time, I was at my friend Jamie [Particof’s] house who produced it, and I cried by his pool. And I told him how sorry I was that I let him down. And then the same thing happened when I saw “Blue Valentine.”
I can’t watch these movies alone. I try watching them at a screening, but it doesn’t really help. It’s just so hard to watch yourself, I guess … I watch all the dailies, but that’s different because I have to watch that stuff, but it’s all just raw. It could be anything. When they decide for you what it is and you think it could be other things.
Was there anything in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” that you were happy that they kept in the movie, since so much was improvised?
It was nice that they let us have a lot of freedom. At my character’s house, when [Jacob and Hannah] have that date night. So that night between Emma and [me] was largely improvised, so they kept a lot of that stuff. She does this amazing Lauren Bacall impersonation, and so I was happy that they kept that.
Do you share any personality traits with Jacob? Can you relate to him at all?
Not really. I don’t know if anyone can. I mean, he’s kind of like Bugs Bunny. I relate more to Steve’s character. It was hard to play Jacob. I guess that was part of the challenge.
How do you approach dating women in real life?
I don’t know what to say. They come up to me and realize that I’m not Ryan Reynolds. And then they go away.
Did you do any research to prepare for your role in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”?
[He says jokingly] I really didn’t know how to prepare for this role. I really wanted to play The Situation from “Jersey Shore,” and I showed up to set, and they said, “It’s not that kind of movie.”
They didn’t have enough tanning lotion.
They said they wanted to be more real. I said, “OK.” I didn’t really know how to prepare for it. I did the research I could do, I guess. But more than anything, I just kind of gave myself more to the other actors and the directors. “Direct me.”
You’ve said in another interview that, as research for your role in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” you had read some advice books about how to pick up women — and you were creeped out by what you read. What were some of the creepiest things you read in those books?
Some of that stuff is just so weird. Like one of the pickup lines the guy was using was to go up to a girl and you say something like, “Did you know that fish burp?” And that’s supposed to open the floodgates of conversation.
You’re originally from Ontario in Canada, but you have an accent that’s hard to place. Can you explain?
My accent’s a mess. I played too many characters. I lived in Orlando when I was 12, and then I went and lived in the South when I was 14. I was around a lot of Southerners, and I spent a lot of time in New York. I played too many characters, and it becomes like a hodgepodge mishmash.
What kind of tattoos do you have on your arm?
That one is supposed to be a monster hand dropping a bloody heart, but I did it myself, so that’s why it looks like a cactus. My friend got a tattoo gun on eBay.
Will your band Dead Man’s Bones have a second album?
I hope so. Yes. We’re working on it. We already recorded a sketch of the record in my garage. We have a lot of dreams for it that take time and money.
It all started because we wanted to make a play, like an elementary-school play (in the style of Robert Wilson) about monsters and zombies and ghosts and being lonely and looking for love. And it was the most expensive play of all time. Nobody would fund it.
So we thought about making it into a movie and no one would fund that. So we thought, “Oh, we’ll make a record, because those are cheap and we’ll try and tell it with music.” And so then suddenly, we were a band, which was never our plan, but that’s where we are.
So we had a similar dream for this next record. We wanted to do it as a play and with a similar story. So then we went back into my garage and made it as a record …
What can you say about your involvement in the “Logan’s Run” movie remake?
We’re just creating the world right now and then we’ll know what kind of story we’d like to see in that world. We’ve only been on it for not for very long.
What else is next for you?
I’m about to start a film called “A Place Beyond the Pines.” I did a film called “Blue Valentine,” and that filmmaker [Derek Cianfrance] is the director.
For more info: “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” website
RELATED LINKS ON joltleft.com:
Interview with Ryan Gosling for “Blue Valentine”
Interview with Ryan Gosling for “Drive” (Cannes press conference)
Interview with Ryan Gosling for “Drive” (Toronto press junket)
Interview with Ryan Gosling for “The Ides of March”
Interview with Steve Carell for “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
Interview with Julianne Moore for “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
Interview with Emma Stone for “Crazy, Stupid, Love”
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