At 30, Ryan Gosling has built an enviable Hollywood career, starring in a range of films from weepy romance to action thrillers. The Canadian-born actor could be an Oscar contender this year.
In the new political drama The Ides of March, Gosling is campaign manager to a presidential candidate played by the film's director, George Clooney. When you ask "why did you take this role," most actors respond with something about the character. But Gosling had another agenda.
"A part of the reason I did the film was just to become more informed, politically," explained Gosling. "You have a certain amount of prep time. All you are doing is researching and learning and you have access to people you would never have access to otherwise, specifically when George is involved. So it was access to that world and an opportunity to become more informed."
The Ides of March comes on the heels of his critically acclaimed portrayal of a getaway driver in Drive.
"I've been wanting to play a superhero, but all the good ones are taken," he joked. "So I thought I could create my own, potentially, and that's what we tried to do with Drive.'"
The edgy performances have generated "Oscar buzz" - predictions of a nomination for Hollywood's top annual honors. It's something he's been through before. Gosling was a Best Actor finalist five years ago for the drug-addicted teacher in Half Nelson.
"Nobody believes in you when you're starting out, but for a few people," the actor notes. "You learn not to care or listen to what people think because if you did you would be too afraid to try. So you train yourself and numb yourself to other people's opinions. Then suddenly people decide that they like what you're doing and then they want to praise you and you're supposed to start caring again. But if you do, you're still taking the same risk."
Born and raised near Toronto, Gosling discovered his acting talent early.
Not yet a teenager, he joined the "New Mickey Mouse Club," alongside other future stars including Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake. A decade of minor film roles followed, but Gosling's breakthrough came in 2004 with the romantic melodrama The Notebook.
While he continues to make interesting choices, Gosling made headlines recently suggesting that he might retire from acting. He says it's a case of something else he has to get used to: his remarks being taken out of context.
"In the context of what I said, it was that I've been doing this since I was 12 years old and although I'm feeling very productive and creative at the moment making a lot of films, I don't know how long that feeling is going to last," explained Gosling. "It could dry up pretty soon. I can't see myself doing this forever which is very different from saying that you're retiring. But I understand the nature of the way it works and I fall prey to it too. A headline will make me want to read something and then I realize I've been baited. But now I'm the bait."
Ryan Gosling turns 31 in November. He's currently filming The Gangster Squad, a drama set in 1950s Los Angeles.