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With Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” and Universal’s giant action tentpole “The Fall Guy” on the way, Ryan Gosling remains one of Hollywood’s most in-demand leading men. But that wasn’t always the case. The Oscar nominee recently told GQ magazine that his rise to leading man got its start because he landed his first few roles on the belief that he wasn’t leading man material to begin with.
Gosling’s acting breakthrough came in 2001 with his leading role in Henry Bean’s “The Believer,” in which he played a Jewish kid from New York who becomes a Neo-Nazi. Gosling is none of these, but he said “the fact that I wasn’t really right for it was exactly why [Henry] thought I was right for it.” The actor got similar feedback when he went to audition for “The Notebook,” Nick Cassavetes’ 2004 Nicholas Sparks adaptation that turned Gosling and co-star Rachel McAdams into romance icons.
“[Nick] straight up told me: ‘The fact that you have no natural leading man qualities is why I want you to be my leading man,’” Gosling revealed.
Whether or not Nick Cassavetes was right at the time about Gosling’s leading man qualities is now besides the point, as “The Notebook” cemented Gosling as a leading star and led to a career full of leading roles. Perhaps Gosling doubted his leading man capabilities at first because he was forced to realize he wasn’t a child prodigy as a cast member on Disney’s “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club,” which co-starred eventual pop phenoms Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.
“Everybody was at, like, prodigy level. I certainly wasn’t a child prodigy,” Gosling said. “I didn’t know why I was there. And I think that was the consensus. It’s why I didn’t work—it was like, they dressed me up as a hamster or put me in the background of someone’s song. But it was all a great experience in a way because it helped me figure out what I wasn’t going to be good at. Which is important to learn too.”
Playing Ken in “Barbie” marks somewhat of a full circle moment for Gosling, as the role appeals more to that “kid dressed up as a hamster” from “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club” than it does to Gosling’s Oscar-nominated work in indie film.
“There’s something about this Ken that really, I think, relates to that version of myself,” Gosling said. “Just, like, the guy that was putting on Hammer pants and dancing at the mall and smelling like Drakkar Noir and Aqua Net-ing bangs. I owe that kid a lot. I feel like I was very quick to distance myself from him when I started making more serious films. But the reality is that, like, he’s the reason I have everything I have.”
“I really had to go back and touch base with that little dude “and say thank you, and ask for his help,” Gosling added.
“Barbie” opens in theaters nationwide July 21 from Warner Bros.