Ryan Gosling lets his inner badass out in Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive
Ryan Gosling has a dream but it’s not what you would expect. It isn’t riches or success or notoriety – he has already achieved those lofty goals. No, Gosling has something much more specific in mind. "My dream is to create a character that people go out as on Halloween," Gosling tells me when we meet at the Toronto International Film Festival. He says this with full sincerity and not a single trace of sarcasm on his beautiful face.
Gosling may have found that character in his new film, Drive. Known only as The Driver, his character sports a shiny bomber jacket with a giant scorpion on the back, is constantly fiddling with a toothpick in his mouth and barely speaks a word most of the time. Aside from his inherent coolness, he is also one of the biggest badasses I’ve seen on screen all year. "He’s got issues," Gosling quips of The Driver. "He’s a psychopath. He’s got to get control of that, I guess."
It was Gosling who pushed for Drive to be made and also for Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, the Pusher trilogy) to helm it. And once those two got started, there was no stopping them. "Nicolas and I creatively copulated and this movie baby was born and then we had to raise it," explains Gosling. When he says things like this, he looks straight at you and doesn’t even flinch. It’s impressive.
The buzz behind Drive is as loud as the film itself, and if it connects with audiences, which I assure you it most certainly should, Gosling has the chance to continue solidifying his status as one of the most intriguing and marketable stars working today. Not too bad for a boy from London, Ontario. His work in this summer’s Crazy, Stupid, Love was the best of the bunch and he also stars in next month’s The Ides of March, directed by none other than George Clooney. There’s buzz about an Oscar.
People are calling Gosling the next De Niro but he’s having none of it. "There is no difference between me and anyone else," Gosling says both firmly and humbly, clearly somewhat irked by the notion itself. "I hate when that stuff happens," he says of comparisons. "There’s nowhere to go after. It just sets you up to fail."
Comparisons aside, the kind of intensity Gosling gives in Drive could not as easily be achieved by most other young actors today. He is extremely intimidating, and all he has to do is stand there and stare at you to accomplish this. When I ask him where he has to go in his head to be that menacing, he answers with three words: "Not too far."
Gosling would simply prefer that his work speak for itself, and his work in Drive is some of the best I’ve seen from him. This is likely due in part to his strong understanding of the material itself, which is based on a James Sallis novel. "Driving can be something of an existential experience," he explains. "You aren’t being watched; you are just the watcher. It’s similar to watching a movie."
And if that movie happens to have Gosling in the driver’s seat, all the better.