Top 5 Ryan Gosling Roles

A Place Between the Pines officially opens up on March 29th and will dribble into more and more theaters. It hits my neck of the woods on April 5th. It looks like it will be another great performance from Ryan Gosling who is easily one of the most exciting actors working today. So here’s a look at the 5 key roles that sent him up the ranks.

Ryan Gosling

Drive (2011)

Role: Driver

Never actually referred to by name, Gosling’s Driver is an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a puzzle. There aren’t a lot of actors who can pull off what he does here. Most actors would probably play him like a cold, calculating terminator, but through some impressive subtlety, Gosling makes him a well of sadness all too familiar with a life of violence.

Ryan Gosling

Blue Valentine (2010)

Role: Dean Pereira

Blue Valentine is one of the most depressing movies I have ever seen in my life. It stars Gosling and Michelle Williams as a young married couple. Two moments in their life (when their relationship is just starting and when there relationship is falling apart) are intercut so we experience them at the same time. Gosling and Williams go back and forth between rom-com levels of chemistry and banter and emotionally raw sense of indifference without ever actually feeling like new people.

Ryan Gosling

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Role: Lars

This is the weirdest role on the list. Gosling plays Lars, an awkward shy adult who develops a relationship with a lifesize doll he finds on the internet. The premise is over the top, and Gosling gets dangerously close to being over the top. Instead, he starts near the top and slowly but surely evolves from socially inept to someone more social. His evolution doesn’t end with the movie, but the strange romance gives him the kickstart he needs. The reason it works is, between his awkward pauses and social anxiety, Gosling makes us believe in his feelings for this inanimate object.

Ryan Gosling

Half Nelson (2006)

Role: Dan Dunne

This is probably the first role where I really thought, “I need to pay attention to what this guy is doing.” Gosling plays a teacher who is sliding into drug addiction. The drug addiction gives him a Jekyll and Hyde like persona. At one point, he is a charismatic orator who sounds like he has all the answers, the next he is a kind of an asshole pushing people away. I feel like I have used the word subtlety a lot so far, but it really is what Gosling is the master of. He doesn’t create characters; he creates people. 

Ryan Gosling

The Believer (2001)

Role: Danny Balint

His role as Danny is a hypocrisy, but in the best way possible. Danny was born into a Jewish family, but after challenging his faith, he embraced a neo-Nazi philosophy. His character is essentially a walking talking argument. When he is with the neo-Nazis, he schools them in the Torah and the Jewish way of life. How could they possibly attack something they know nothing about. When he is with Jewish followers, he puffs out his chest and challenges everything they say. It is a fascinating character study of someone looking for answers but just can’t seem to find it.