Ryan Gosling as Holland March in The Nice Guys (Daniel McFadden/Warner Bros. Pictures)
True to his reputation as the main heartthrob of the millennial set, Ryan Gosling has no use for the decade in which his latest film, The Nice Guys, is set. When asked what he would like to bring back from the 1970s, he quickly answers “the ’80s.” Despite starring in a film set in 1977 Los Angeles, perhaps the apex of the city’s hedonistic reputation, Gosling prefers the decade of his birth, and keeps the ’80s as his cinematic reference point.
Referring to the writer/director and the producer of The Nice Guys, Shane Black and Joel Silver respectively, Gosling recalls their Reagan-era work.
“I grew up on Shane’s movies, and my first exposure to what Hollywood was like behind the scenes was when Joel Silver started yelling at Roger Rabbit and fired him. These guys are in my cinematic DNA, so I trusted them.”
Gosling may have cornered the market on suave comic motormouths but The Nice Guys finds him doing sillier, more slapstick work than usual. The tailored suits of Crazy Stupid Love and The Big Short are replaced by tacky ‘70s fashion, and the laughs come from Gosling’s physicality instead of his verbal dexterity. He found an unlikely supporter for all of his pratfalls in co-star Russell Crowe, another actor hardly known for silliness.
“I didn’t expect Russell to be such a champion of it. I might have thought it was more broad than anyone else,” he says, “The first day I was working with Russell, I went early to work out the bathroom stall door gag, and I thought I was alone until I smelled smoke. Russell was watching me, and he suggested for me to hit it with my other leg so the door would bounce back farther. We immediately had a serious conversation about the stupidest thing ever.”
Despite the lighter tone of the material, Gosling found the shoot more difficult than some of the films in which he engages in far darker subject matter. Much of the movie was filmed in Atlanta during the winter, yet the film is set in an L.A. summer, with a pivotal scene at a party where Gosling spends the entire time soaking wet.
“It was minus-10 degrees, and very nice people come to hose you down every half hour. You’ll cop to anything at that point.”
Gosling even performed many of his own stunts, but the unfailingly polite actor is sure to give credit by name to his stunt double Brett Praed, who even inspired much of the physical comedy thanks to the stunt double’s recent performance in a touring version of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“I tried to make the performance Scarecrow-esque,” he says.
Despite the difficulty of the shoot, Gosling knew he couldn’t complain about the various scrapes and bruises.
“My stunt guy Brett just came from filming Fury, where he was bayonetted. I couldn’t really complain about anything that I went through after hearing that.”
Filming The Nice Guys may have had its difficulties for Gosling, but there was time for revelry. On one of the early nights of filming, Crowe rented out a nearby bar so that the cast and crew could watch a game by the rugby team that Crowe owns.
“I know it seems like I’m playing drunk in the film,” he admits, “but really I’m still drunk the entire movie after that one night.”
Befitting his iconic status among millennials, Gosling is the subject of many different online memes, but he has no idea why the internet has chosen him so often as the subject for their flights of fancy.
“I have to think it’s not about me. I’m the pigeon, and the internet is Fabio. It just happened.”
The Nice Guys is in theaters May 20.