Ryan Gosling

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4 mins read

Ryan Thomas Gosling was born November 12, 1980 and is a Canadian actor and musician.

Gosling was born in London, Ontario, the son of Thomas Ray Gosling, a traveling salesman for a paper mill, and Donna, a secretary. Both of his parents are of part French-Canadian descent, along with some German, English, Scottish, and Irish. Gosling’s parents were Mormons, and Gosling has said that the religion influenced every aspect of their lives. However, he said he “never really could identify with [Mormonism].” Because of his father’s work, they “moved around a lot” and Gosling lived in both Cornwall, Ontario, and Burlington, Ontario. His parents divorced when he was 13, and he and his older sister Mandi lived with their mother, an experience Gosling has credited with programming him “to think like a girl”.

Gosling was educated at Gladstone Public School, Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School and Lester B. Pearson High School. As a child, he watched Dick Tracy and was inspired to become an actor. He “hated” being a child, was bullied in elementary school and had no friends until he was “14 or 15”. In grade one, having been heavily influenced by the action film First Blood, he took steak knives to school and threw them at other children during recess. This incident led to a suspension. He was unable to read, and was evaluated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but was not diagnosed with it and, contrary to false reports, never took medication. His mother left her job and homeschooled him for a year. Gosling has said that homeschooling gave him a sense of autonomy that he has never really lost.

Gosling performed in front of audiences from an early age, encouraged by his sister being a performer. He and his sister sang together at weddings; he performed with Elvis Perry, his uncle’s Elvis Presley tribute act, and was involved with a local ballet company. Performing boosted his self-confidence as it was the only thing for which he received praise. He developed an idiosyncratic accent because, as a child, he thought having a Canadian accent did not sound “tough”. He began to model his accent on that of Marlon Brando. He dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to focus on his acting career.

In 1993, at the age of 12, Gosling attended an open audition in Montreal for a revival of Disney Channel’s The Mickey Mouse Club. He was given a two-year contract as a mouseketeer and moved to Orlando, Florida. He appeared on-screen infrequently because other children were considered more talented. Nonetheless, he has described the job as the greatest two years of his life. Fellow cast members included Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera.

Gosling has credited the experience with instilling in them “this great sense of focus.” He became particularly close friends with Timberlake and they lived together for six months during the second year of the show. Timberlake’s mother became Gosling’s legal guardian after his mother returned to Canada for work reasons. Gosling has said that, even though he and Timberlake are no longer in touch, they are still supportive of each other.

Following the show’s cancellation in 1995, Gosling returned to Canada, where he continued to appear in family entertainment television series, including Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1995) and Goosebumps (1996), and starred in Breaker High (1997–98) as Sean Hanlon. At the age of 18, he moved to New Zealand to film the Fox Kids adventure series Young Hercules (1998–1999) as the title character. In 2002, he told the Vancouver Sun that he initially enjoyed working on the show, but began to care too much about the series, so it was no longer fun for him. He wanted to spend more time sitting with and devising a character as well as play a variety of roles, so he chose to enter film and not accept any more television work. 

At the age of nineteen, Gosling decided to move into “serious acting”. He was dropped by his agent and initially found it difficult to secure work because of the “stigma” attached to children’s television. After a supporting role in the football drama Remember the Titans, Gosling secured a lead role as a young Jewish neo-Nazi in 2001’s The Believer

He went on to star in several independent films, including Murder by Numbers (2002), The Slaughter Rule (2002), and The United States of Leland (2003).

Gosling gained wider recognition in 2004 with a leading role in the commercially successful romance The Notebook. For playing a drug-addicted teacher in Half Nelson (2006) and he next played a socially inept loner in Lars and the Real Girl (2007). After a brief hiatus, Gosling starred in the marital drama Blue Valentine (2010).

Gosling co-starred in three mainstream films in 2011, the romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love, the political drama The Ides of March, and the action drama Drive, all of which were critical and commercial successes. He also starred in the acclaimed financial satire The Big Short (2015), and the romantic musical La La Land (2016), which won him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. Further acclaim followed with 2017’s science fiction Blade Runner 2049 and 2018’s biopic First Man. In addition to acting, he made his directorial debut in 2014’s Lost River.

Gosling is supportive of various social causes. He has worked with PETA on a campaign to encourage KFC and McDonald’s to use improved methods of chicken slaughter in their factories, and on a campaign encouraging dairy farmers to stop de-horning cows.

Gosling volunteered in Biloxi, Mississippi in 2005, as part of the clean-up effort following Hurricane Katrina.

He is a supporter of Invisible Children, Inc., a group that raises awareness about the LRA in Central Africa. In 2005, Gosling travelled to Darfur refugee camps in Chad. He was a speaker at Campus Progress’s National Conference in 2008 where he discussed Darfur. As part of his work with the Enough Project, he visited Uganda in 2007 and eastern Congo in 2010.