Whether as a secret agent or a style star evocative of another era complete with a TAG Heuer Carrera on his wrist, Ryan Gosling’s appeal transcends time.
Charismatically dancing across the screen in La La Land... smoldering as a rain-soaked heartthrob in The Notebook... heck, even just simply walking a red carpet in a three-piece suit—there is no doubt Ryan Gosling has an almost immortal appeal. (He is, after all, the man who launched a thousand memes.) After some time spent focusing on family (and his two children with actress Eva Mendes), the Canadian charmer is back with perhaps his biggest blockbuster to date, The Gray Man. The Russo brothers-directed film is based on the Mark Greaney novel of the same name and part of a series that Netflix hopes to spin into a franchise. Gosling plays the lead (CIA operative Court Gentry) and is joined by other Hollywood heavyweights including Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Bridgerton breakout star Regé-Jean Page. This fall, he also unveiled a new partnership with TAG Heuer—his first brand partnership to date. Here, Gosling shares his thoughts on family, films and the future.
How was lockdown for you last year—how did you spend it? What did you do to get through it?
Our kids were at a difficult age to not be able to see other kids or interact with people, so Eva and I did our best to entertain them. I think we did more acting in quarantine than in our films. Tougher crowd though.
You were home-schooled as a kid. Was that good practice for home-schooling your own girls during that time? How were you as a teacher?
I was only home-schooled for a year but it did really turn things around for me. I had a great teacher though. My mother was so good at it, actually, that she became a teacher and has B.A.s in English, history and education. So she was the perfect person to ask for help when we needed it.
You were influenced by films a lot as a kid—First Blood, then Rocky. Is it true that after you saw Rocky you picked a fight then got your ass kicked?
No, but I would try to channel Rocky growing up, to psych myself up for some of the challenges I was facing. Everything about that film, from the theme to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ to [Sylvester] Stallone having to sell his dog to get it made, can strike a chord in anyone looking for the inspiration to keep on swinging.
What films of yours can you show your girls? Presumably La La Land?
I’m not in a hurry for them to see any of my movies. Eva did a kids film, though, called My Brother the Pig, that was a big hit with our girls. I highly recommend it, by the way; she’s amazing in it.
How’s your Spanish these days? As you’re raising your daughters bilingually, can they talk without you knowing what they’re saying?
It’s more like Spanglish right now, thank God. Once it’s full Spanish, then ay dios mio, coño!
TAG Heuer Carrera watch, tagheuer.com
How is your time management, generally?
So many things actively trying to distract you now, it’s easy to lose track of time. It’s actually one of the reasons I wear a watch. I like being reminded that the clock is ticking.
What drew you to TAG Heuer as a brand?
TAG Heuer has quietly and consistently been a classic and iconic pillar of excellence in its field for over 160 years. Partnering with them was an easy decision, and time, in general, is just something I think a lot about now. My kids are growing up fast so I keep an eye on the clock in a way I never used to. Partnering with TAG Heuer also signifies that for me.
The history of TAG Heuer is that they began as Heuer making dashboard chronographs for automobiles and aircraft before they made wristwatches. Was that part of the draw?
When I was working on First Man, the phrase ‘built like a Swiss watch’ kept coming up on my visits to NASA in reference to their spacecraft. That was the gold standard they used. TAG Heuer has been at this for so long and in so many different iterations. They’ve distilled their work down to something that’s emblematic of what great engineering and craftsmanship can and should be.
When you’ve spoken about selecting roles, you’ve said you only want to pick roles that scare you. Does that remain the case?
I’ve said a lot of things over the years—some of which I actually agree with. I think what I meant was that I didn’t really know how to do it any other way. Since I didn’t go to school for this, all my learning has had to be on the job. In the beginning, I spent most of my time convincing people that I knew what I was doing and the rest of my time trying to convince myself. I was always in what seemed to be sink or swim situations. I did my share of sinking; the internet can attest to that. But I got used to working under pressure and kept seeking it out because it’s all I knew.
You’ve just finished shooting The Gray Man, Netflix’s biggest blockbuster to date. What’s it like working with the Russo brothers? Regé-Jean Page, who is in it as well, mentioned he was surprised that, for such a big-budget film, there’s a lot of room for improv and last-minute scene rewrites.
The Russos are great like that—always taking things apart and putting them back together. I can imagine some directors working at that scale might be hesitant to take their movie out of the garage for a joy ride. The Russos just drive it like they own it.
Wolfman is in preproduction—this feels like a departure for you. What about this project made you want to do it?
I’ve always loved horror movies and thought Wolfman was one of the great characters. Watching horror is actually where I first started thinking about how films were made because I would have to remind myself that it was just a movie when I would get too scared. I would imagine the special effects people on the other side of all the blood gags or Freddy Krueger in the makeup chair and then I could handle it. Anyway, it’s great to finally be on the other side of it now and making one of my own.