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THERE’S no WAY THAT a FILM can CAPTURE the EXPERIENCE of MAKING IT.... THE THING THAT’S so EXCITING when YOU’RE MAKING a FILM is THAT
it CAN BE ANYTHING and THERE ARE no LIMITATIONS on IT.—Ryan Gosling
STEVE CARELL: This is so intimate.
RYAN GOSLING: [whispers] Steve.
CARELL: [whispers] Ryan.
GOSLING: Thanks so much for doing this. You know, I don’t know if I’ve ever actually felt compelled to tell the truth in an interview. But now that it’s you doing the interviewing, I feel like I can’t make stuff up, because you’re a truth-seeker.
CARELL: I would actually like to begin this by saying that I want you to lie to me. If you feel uncomfortable at any point during this interview, please make up a story that has no bearing on your actual life. That’s what I do, and it seems to work well.
GOSLING: I should let you know before we get into this that the pictures which will be accompanying this interview are basically of me in tight, wet T-shirts and tiny leather jackets going around in the rain and pretending that I’m a lot cooler than I am.
CARELL: Are these the pictures that I took?
GOSLING: No, but similar. [laughs]
CARELL: So shall we get down to business? As your friend, there are some things that I am dying to know about you—as I’m sure America is as well. First of all, you’re from Canada.
CARELL: And this is something that you’ve kept hidden for years?
GOSLING: Yeah, damn it. Now the cat’s out of the bag.
CARELL: Do you still think of yourself as a Canadian?
GOSLING: Yeah, I do. I grew up in a town called Cornwall, Ontario, which is about an hour outside of Montreal.
CARELL: How do you think your Canadianness has impacted who you are and what you’ve become?
GOSLING: I loved growing up in Canada. It’s a great place to grow up, because—well, at least where I grew up—it’s very multicultural. There’s also good health care and a good education system. So it’s a great place to be from, although, when I was 8, I was walking to school one day and I saw a frozen cat by the side of the road, and I picked it up and hit it against a tree.
CARELL: Just to confirm that it was frozen?
GOSLING: Yeah. It was frozen solid, almost mid-step. So I thought, “This isn’t right. I’m moving to California as soon as I can drive.” And that’s what I did.
CARELL: I think this is going great. We’ve already established your Canadian heritage and you’ve shown yourself to be an animal lover. I think all of Canada—and America—will love you very much after this. You started performing while you were still a kid. What was your first big job?
GOSLING: My sister and I used to sing at weddings. We would sing “When a Man Loves a Woman” to the bride. We’d do it right before the garter ceremony. While the bride was sitting on the chair, I would get down on my knees and sing the song, and then my sister would sing another song, and then together we would sing “Old Time Rock & Roll.” Then sometimes if we were really killing it, I’d sing “Runaround Sue.”
CARELL: How old were you at this point?
GOSLING: I was 8 and my sister was 12. My uncle was an Elvis impersonator—his name was Perry, and he went by “Elvis Perry”—and my work as a wedding singer landed me a spot in his act.
CARELL: What did you do in your uncle’s act?
GOSLING: Well, my job was that I was head of security, so I had to wear a big gold lamé jacket that said “Elvis Perry Security” on it. My uncle would take scarves off from around his neck and hand them to ladies in the audience, so part of my job was to hand him new scarves, and then also to make sure that the ladies didn’t get too hands-y. During the song “Teddy Bear,” my uncle would hand out a teddy bear, so my job was also to give him that teddy bear.
CARELL: Were you ever called into action to deal with any overly amorous women in the audience?
GOSLING: No, but I was ready.
CARELL: I think it’s fairly common knowledge that you eventually parlayed that experience into a spot on The Mickey Mouse Club.
CARELL: What sort of experience was that?
GOSLING: It was kind of depressing because when I got there, they realized that I wasn’t really up to snuff in comparison with what some of the other kids were able to do. I remember one time they put four of us in a dance routine, but I was so off. I was on the end, so they just pushed the shot in closer on the other three guys to frame me out. I would just come in at the beginning of the show and then come back at the end, and occasionally I’d have a sketch here or there, but I didn’t end up working that much, which was disheartening.
CARELL: Now, who were some of the other go-to Mousketeers who were on the show with you at the time?
GOSLING: Well, in my age bracket, there were seven kids, three of whom were Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.
CARELL: That’s unbelievable that the four of you were cast at the same time. That, frankly, says a lot about the casting people at The [All New] Mickey Mouse Club.
GOSLING: I know. There was a guy there named Matt Casella, who we really owe it all to. But I didn’t end up working as much as I wanted to on the show, so I had a lot of free time, which I ended up spending in the Disney World park itself. It was interesting as a kid to go backstage to the commissary, and to see all of the people who were playing the characters with their heads off next to them while they were eating lunch. I remember there was one guy who I became friends with. He played a genie and was this great dancer. He took us to a place called Pleasure Island, which was for adults to go after the kids had their days. It was geared toward an older crowd. It was completely inappropriate, now that I’m thinking about it, but he would sneak us in and we would go to a club there called 8 Trax and dance with the secretaries, who were grinding on us . . . Now, that sounds completely inappropriate. I can’t imagine how it was possible.