• Golden Globe Awards

Ryan Gosling on “The Notebook”, 2004 – Out of the Archives

Ryan Gosling will soon be seen in the action thriller The Gray Man (2022) directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, and next year we’ll see him as Ken, opposite Margot Robbie in Barbie (2023), directed by Greta Gerwig.
Ryan Gosling won a Golden Globe as Best Actor in 2017, after four nominations, for his performance opposite Emma Stone in the musical La La Land written and directed by Damien Chazelle. Back in 2004 the journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press interviewed the Canadian actor about another landmark movie, The Notebook, directed by Nick Cassavetes from the 1996 novel by Nicholas Sparks, with Rachel McAdams, James Garner and the director’s mother Gena Rowlands.
Gosling did not feel that he resembled Noah, the young man he played in The Notebook, but he respected the way he conducted his life: “He’s different from me, but with every character you play you find a way to relate to them or pieces of yourself which are similar. There are certain parts of Noah that I respect, and the pace of his life was something that I really responded to. The idea of rolling in the morning and then making furniture during the day was something that really sat well with me, it was a kind of lifestyle that I could get into. I also respected the idea that, even though he was dedicating his life to one person, he wasn’t going to compromise, he still maintained a sense of integrity. He never came across to me as somebody who was needy or whiny or a boy-man. He was a man and I respected that.”
He didn’t think he was the right actor to play the part when he first went to meet the director at his home: “Nick talked to me a lot about this character because I think there’s a part of Nick in every character in this film. He has a lot of really big ideas about love, how it should be and how it can be, and his enthusiasm for the project is what sold me on the idea. When I went to meet with Nick about the movie, I wasn’t sure that I was the right guy for this at all, I can tend to be a bit more cynical than Noah is and I worried that that might hurt the movie. All I remember was Nick standing by his pool crying, shaking his fists at the sky asking me how much I could love, and I was like, ‘I can love a lot.’ And that was pretty much the experience of working with Nick, he gets himself into that state every day. I’m human and I can relate to most people on that level, I experience the gamut of human emotions like everybody else, but I don’t really feel halfway about anything, I feel extremes, and the one thing about acting is that it allows me a place to do that safely.”
It was crucial for the actor and the director to find the right actress to play Allie, and when Rachel McAdams auditioned they had no doubts about casting the newcomer: “Both Nick and I acknowledged that we didn’t know much about women, and we didn’t want to pretend that we did, so this was a film where you could hire really great actresses and give them an opportunity to actually do something and not just play mothers or secretaries, they could really sink their teeth into these roles, so we got to work with such solid actresses as Gena Rowlands and Rachel McAdams. For Allie we were looking for a girl who was going to come in and tell us how it needed to be done and wasn’t going to be influenced by our opinions in any way. Rachel was the last person to audition, Nick asked her, ‘Do you have any questions?’ and she said ‘No.’ So he said, ‘action’ and she was all over the place, she did it all and at the end she wiped some tears off of her face, grabbed her purse and left. Nick and I looked at each other and went, ‘I guess we’re making the movie.’ We needed somebody like Rachel who was going to fight with us and get carried away with us.”
Ryan Gosling did fall in love with Rachel McAdams in real life, but did not want to talk about that while doing press: “I feel like the common question has been, ‘Do I have a love like this in my life?’ But this is so specific a romance. I don’t have a wife in her seventies who’s going through dementia and can’t remember our love, so he’s reading her a notebook that she wrote in order to remind her about our love story in the 1940s. I like the idea that, even though she got 365 letters from this guy, Allie saw that as romantic and not a situation where she needed to get a restraining order against him. I have my own personal experiences with romance, but this was a stretch for me and that’s why I wanted to do it. I’m a private person and I can do my job better and enjoy my life better if I’m in a place where I am not being watched.”
The Canadian actor felt that growing up in Canada gave him an advantage and missed his native country now that he lived in Los Angeles: “To generalize, America is obsessed with itself and I feel lucky to have grown up in another country that has more of an awareness of the fact that it’s part of a world. And not only did I live in Canada, but I also lived in New Zealand, so I had the opportunity to just be an observer. I’m that way in general and that informs my ability to do what I do. I try and go back home at least twice a year because I obviously miss my family. In Hollywood everyone is doing the same thing, so you tend to meet the same kind of person every day and have the same conversation over and over again. So I really crave different experiences and meeting different kinds of people. That’s one big downfall about living in Hollywood, that the experiences that you have every day tend to repeat themselves, while living in Canada or any other place in the world outside of Los Angeles, you meet people who are doing different things and have completely different agendas in life than you have, and I benefit from that as a person.”
These are the legendary Hollywood movie stars that the young actor looked up to but didn’t want to copy their careers: “Bob (Robert) Mitchum and Jimmy (James) Stewart were guys and they were comfortable being guys, they could be sensitive and not have to have too much therapy. There are all of these things which we deal with today that complicate everything, and I prefer the simplicity of those classic characters. But I really feel like I’m an individual and I hope that I can take my own path and not try and emulate anyone else, because I would just be doing a bad copy of great actors.”