Dear Gossips,  

We have been talking a LOT about Ryan Gosling over the last year, his Kennification and how he’s carrying his Kenergy forward into new projects like The Fall Guy (which is very much the action figure version of Ken). But we haven’t actually talked about what this has done for his ACTING. Like, his actual craft. To his credit, Gosling isn’t an actor who blathers on about his process, nor do we hear torturous tales of method acting from set. He makes it easy not to talk about the work, because he rarely talks about it himself—he just shows up and delivers every time.


But in a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, he does talk a little about The Work, or at least about choosing the work, which is about as close as he gets to the topic, saying, “I don’t really take roles that are going to put me in some kind of dark place […] I feel like trying to read the room at home and feel like what is going to be best for all of us. The decisions I make, I make them with Eva [Mendes] and we make them with our family in mind first.”


So it isn’t just that the Ken life chose him, he DID choose the Ken life, although he says the habit goes back to La La Land, which meant he got to sing and dance with his kids while rehearsing (cute). He doesn’t want to be a bummer when he gets home after work, and it’s led to some of the best roles of his career. It’s also made over his public persona, where he was once known as a sooper serious ac-tor, now he’s the guy stunting all over the place for Ken, for Colt Seavers, for Dean and Jeff, and hopefully for whatever comes next because this is a lot of fun and I hope we get to enjoy it for a while. I accept it as a partial apology for never getting a sequel to The Nice Guys.


But this brings me back to Ryan Gosling’s work, as an actor, on screen. I don’t know how he got stuck with the dour label in the first place, because he has ALWAYS done comedic roles, even as he became known as a bigtime dramatic actor. Going back to his breakout in 2004 with The Notebook, he followed that up two years later with his Oscar-nominated turn as a drug-addicted teacher in Half Nelson, then he made the weirdo rom-com Lars and the Real Girl, then rom-com confection Crazy, Stupid, Love was sandwiched in between mega-downer Blue Valentine and ultimate tough guy flick Drive


There’s always been a healthy mix of comedy in Gosling’s repertoire, and of course there is the meme-ification of his persona via “Hey Girl”, which I think is where the “serious guy, serious roles” thing came from even as he made The Nice Guys in between his run of ultra-violent Nicolas Winding Refn movies and Blade Runner 2049 and First Man. Gosling was always a good sport about being confronted with his fabricated online persona, but you could also see him recoiling from it a little, like most actors when confronted with fanfic/fanart and memes, he doesn’t want to engage directly with it (nor should he! Maintain the fourth wall!). 


But now, embracing Ken, embracing stunts, embracing fun, it’s leading to some of the best work of his career, another Oscar nomination, he’s more popular and beloved than ever. The method of choosing his work changed, and it changed his work for the better. Not that he wasn’t always a great actor, not that he wasn’t doing lighter roles before, but over the last year, part of the phenomenon of Ken, which now extends to The Fall Guy, was watching The Gos find a new gear. It’s like he finally figured out how to combine his dedication to craft, comedy chops, and the “Hey Girl” of it all into the ultimate expression of his celebrity. I’m actually looking forward to his next dramatic role because I want to see how the new Ryan Gosling translates in a more serious setting. Based on his history, it’s just about time for the pendulum to swing the other way.

Live long and gossip,