Ryan Gosling remembers very precisely when he first felt free—when he first felt the forks, possibilities, and escapes of adolescence. It happened on a worn-out motorcycle that couldn’t move. He was a child growing up in Ontario, Canada — his father was a salesman, his mother was a secretary, and the marriage lasted until he was a teenager — and a family friend brought his motorcycle here. It wasn’t to show off, just to hide it in Gosling’s garden for a few months, lest his own mother find out it existed.
You suspect she’s only half unhappy because it didn’t run, but Gosling recalls being fascinated by it anyway. He was content, he said, “sitting on it all day” and simply imagining. Before that, “the happiest moment of my life was when I rode my BMX around my house.” Gosling was bullied at school and didn’t really like the whole “being a kid” thing from the start, so he The view on both things is the same. “It was my first independent experience,” he says, “I’m not a passenger anymore. I’m a driver.” That’s why, even though (or maybe because) the bike hasn’t moved an inch, he’s “since I have a soft spot for vehicles.”
You probably don’t need me to tell you his breakthrough movie is actually called Drive, 2011’s super cool, synth-sounded black road rubber from Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Gosling as a man with a heart of gold Stuntman/Escape Driver. But that also partly explains Gosling’s continued fascination with the genre he actually created: the well-intentioned stand-in crime thriller.
After Drive comes The Place Beyond The Pines, in which Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt rider who goes to rob a bank to feed his love and their newborn child. Despite the blockbusters since then — from the whip-smart “The Big Short” and the Oscar-winning “La La Land” to the pivotal darling “Blade Runner 2049” — it’s a genre he’s poised to return to, in A project he won’t be working on is just playing the stunt driver again (this time on a bounty hunt in his spare time, if rumors are to be believed), but will do so in a film directed by former stuntman David Leitch.
“I know not everyone has a connection to motorcycles,” Gosling said, “but I think most people have some kind of emotional connection to cars at some point. Cars can be real people in our lives. So yes It makes sense to me that they have such great characters in the movie.” He said some of his favorite characters are cars. “You know, they can be heroes, like [Steve] McQueen’s ‘Fastback’ in Bullitt or DeLorean in Back to the Future, or villains, like the semi-truck in Duel.”
So it may not have been a shock when Gosling decided to sign his first brand partnership, the actor was drawn to the 1:1 TAG Heuer watch. The luxury Swiss watch brand is known for its racing heritage, and Gosling kicked off his global partnership with the launch of the TAG Heuer Carrera 3-Hand 3-Hand, a new generation of classic 3-Hand AAA watches.
“I’ve never really felt connected to other brands in the past,” Gosling said. “But the decision to partner with TAG Heuer to sell watches was a simple one. They are an iconic brand that has quietly and consistently been a pillar of excellence in the field for 160 years.”
Perhaps the ultimate vehicle for Gosling to strap himself to the screen is the Saturn V (top speed: 6,164 mph), which he flies to the moon as Neil Armstrong in First Man. Even here, he says, he is reminded of early TAG Heuer watches that made dashboard chronographs for cars and airplanes.
“When I was working for the first man, the phrase ‘made like a Swiss watch’ kept coming up when I visited NASA, referring to their spaceships. That was the gold standard they used. High quality TAG Heuer watches have been around for a long time with many iterations. They have distilled their work into what can and should be a symbol of great engineering and craftsmanship.”
The new collection consists of 13 pieces and reimagines the horological logo in four versions – the TAG Heuer Carrera Day Date 41mm, Carrera Twin-Time Date 41mm, Carrera Date 39mm and Carrera Date 29mm Swiss Movement replica watches – all of which are is carefully designed to prioritize elegance and simplicity.
Legend has it that when Jack Heuer, great-grandson of founder Edouard Heuer, fell from first to third in the 1958 Swiss Rally he entered, it was partly because he couldn’t read the instrument panel correctly timer. Five years later, the best Tag Heuer Carrera fake watch is a far cry from anything the company has done before: greatly simplified and elegant simplicity, where readability is paramount – perfect for people who need to tell the time on the fly under pressure ‘s driver. Carrera is named after the famous Carrera Panamericana racing car, one of the most dangerous racing cars in the world.
Gosling can recall that when he first thought of becoming an actor, he was probably slightly less accurate than he was with a stationary bike. He said he loves horror movies, but often gets scared watching them. The only way to calm yourself down is to “remind yourself that this is just a movie”. He’d imagine “all the special effects guys on the other side of all the blood plugs or Freddy Kruger in the makeup chair. Then I can deal with that.”
His youthful imagination worked both ways. He once got into trouble at school after watching Sylvester Stallone in First Blood far too young. He promptly packed his Fisher-Price magic kit with the Gosling family steak knives and headed to school with them the next day – just in case, he guesses looking back, any playground justice required meting out.
One of his favourite horror characters was the Wolf Man, a remake of which he recently signed on for. “I always thought Wolf Man was one of the great characters,” he says. “And it’s great to finally be on the other side of it and making my own.” I wonder if something similar is going on with his love of playing stuntmen. What is it that fascinates him about them?
“It’s such an interesting job,” he says. “And I grew up [also] loving action films. Action films are a big part why I fell in love with movies. And I think when I learned that a lot of the time it wasn’t the actors doing the stuff I was most excited by, I was very intrigued by who those people were, people who were very quick to deflect credit but were such integral parts of some of our favourite and most iconic movie moments. So the opportunity to explore that world and what drives them is really interesting to me.”
For The Place Beyond The Pines he even did a lot of his own stunts, resulting in some hairy moments. “The director wanted to shoot all of the heist scenes in one long, single take. And that included, you know, riding up the street on the motorcycle, pulling up to the bank, robbing it and then the getaway. So you can imagine when you’re doing 20, 25 takes, it sometimes gets squirrely. It involved a lot of logistics – near misses with cars in traffic and driving out from the back of the truck. So it was touch and go at times.”
Still, he didn’t shoot all the stunts, he says. Some lines were drawn. “I wish I could have done it all,” he says. “But I also understand why the insurance company drew the line on me riding my bike in something called the ‘Globe Of Death’.”
Earlier in his career, back when Gosling was making the awkward transition from Disney “Mouseketeer” child actor to more mature adult roles, he says he mostly saw his job as no more complicated than to get the part (“I felt my job was just to get work. I was trying to pay my rent and maybe get some health insurance”). Once he started working regularly, however, he felt like he needed a new goal. For a while, this was “just to take on roles that would challenge me”.
Make your own mind up about what those roles were, but it’s fair to say the film in which he plays an aggressively jumpered young man who falls in love with a sex doll (2007’s Lars And The Real Girl) was likely one. Quite quickly, he says, “That got boring, because it was for an audience of one. Movies are also made to be watched by other people.” Ever since, “I’ve tried to look for films that can work for us both.” His next role is most definitely not for an audience of one. More specifically, it’s for an audience of more than 200 million subscribers worldwide. Reported to be Netflix’s biggest-budget film to date, The Gray Man is a spy thriller directed by the Russo brothers (the duo behind Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame) that will see Gosling star alongside the likes of Chris Evans and Regé-Jean Page.
‘Movies are also made to be watched by other people. I’ve tried to look for films that can work for us both’
He’s not quite, he says, done with it yet (“Almost. We have some reshoots ahead of us, so we’re still working away on it”). But he’s been impressed with the Russos. Partly, this is down to witnessing a sequence in a major town square in Prague that was so elaborate it took almost a month to film “and involved so many extras, vehicles, guns and explosions that it was pretty impressive they were able to pull it off as safely as they did”. But mostly, he says, it was their advice to him concerning his character: “Drive it like you own it.”
It was good advice, he thinks, which also spoke to them as directors: while most directors working at that scale “would be hesitant to take their movie out of the garage for a joyride”, they drive it like they own it too. Still, it’s a message one could take many ways. A simple instruction to play the part without any fear, of course. Or something deeper, perhaps, that speaks to the young Gosling sitting on that motorbike in his garden, but who, in fairness, didn’t drive it or own it. Or even, just maybe, something more literal: because it turns out when Gosling does drive it, he often keeps it.
He took home, he says, both the motorbike from The Place Beyond The Pines and the car from Drive and still takes them out for a spin from time to time. Don’t people spot him? “No. No,” he says. “I painted it, which seems to work.” And anyway, he says, more often than not now, “I only drive cars that are big enough for two car seats and a doberman.”
Although Gosling can’t tell you exactly when he first became more aware of time and how fast it seemed to be passing, he’s sure his two young daughters played a big part.
“Time, in general, is something I think about a lot now. My kids are growing up so fast I need to keep an eye on the clock in a way I never used to,” he says. “Partnering with cheap TAG Heuer super clone watches site also signifies that for me.”
I wonder if the pandemic played a part in that. “You know, I’m not sure. I feel like I need more time [laughs] to process it. But we have two kids [with actor Eva Mendes], so we spend a lot of our time trying to keep them entertained.”
Lockdown was especially tough, he says, as, “Our kids were at a difficult age not to be able to see other kids and interact with people, even though Eva and I did our best.” He suspected they ended up doing “more acting in quarantine than in our films. Tougher crowd, though.”
Gosling himself was home-schooled for a year, a turn of events that took him out of classes he hated and made him realise there were different ways to progress in life. “It really did turn things about for me,” he says now. “I had a great teacher, though. My mother was so good at it she became a teacher.” And so, when his young girls needed to be home-schooled, “She was the perfect person to ask for help when we needed it.”
They’re both too young to watch any of Gosling’s movies, save, perhaps, La La Land, but he’s not in a hurry for them to watch any just yet, which is probably for the best. Like the youthful Gosling himself, tooled up and ready for playground justice, his girls can have trouble telling fantasy from reality. When the eldest watched him fight Harrison Ford on the set of Blade Runner 2049, she shouted, “You’re winning!” to her father in the middle of the take. Ford stopped, turned and asked her, “What about me?” When he shot First Man his daughters would point to the moon and tell people that’s where their daddy worked.
Does he think they have a better understanding of what he does now? “Yeah. I think they finally figured it out… that my name is actually ‘The Gray Man’ and I’m an assassin for the CIA.”
Anyway, he says, he would likely not be the favourite parent in that regard. In the Gosling household, where talk of daredevil stunts elicits shrugs and where going to the moon is seen as the morning commute, the only superstar is their mother, as she starred in a 1999 film about a boy who turns into a farmyard animal, which was the standout film of lockdown.
“My Brother The Pig was a big hit,” says Gosling. “I highly recommend it, by the way. Eva’s amazing in it.” See: time really does fly when you’re having fun.