Ryan Gosling has got the credentials
With three smash hit films it's fair to say that 2011 was a stellar year for Ryan Gosling. And thanks to those smart choices, 2012 might just be his most successful yet.
Awards season kicks off with this Sunday's Golden Globes, where Gosling is nominated in the best actor category for his role in political thriller The Ides of March and, if industry buzz is to be believed, the 31-year-old Canadian can expect his name to appear on the Oscar shortlist when it's announced on January 24.
Still, the Gosling phenomenon is unusual. Never before have angry readers picketed People magazine to protest against its choice of Sexiest Man Alive -- but when Gosling was overlooked, that's just what happened. He seems to have captured the public consciousness in a way that only teen idols have before him.
It's not just his good looks, sharp style and acting credentials that have fascinated men and women, young and old, but something else -- what once might have been called the X Factor before that term was ruined by Cowell and co.
Born in London, Ontario in 1980 to Mormon parents, Gosling was raised by his mother after she divorced his father. A difficult child, Ryan was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and found school stifling.
At age 12 he attended an open audition in Montreal for Disney's Mickey Mouse Club and ended up moving to Orlando, Florida for two years to appear on the show alongside Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. But although he acted in television as well as film, it wasn't until 2004's weepie The Notebook that he found success as a leading man.
Cast for the part because he looked "a bit nuts" according to director Nick Cassavetes, Gosling insists he won the role of Noah because he wasn't cool or traditionally handsome -- although many would beg to differ. His smoking hot chemistry with Rachel MacAdams (with whom he went on to have a two-year relationship) made for compulsive viewing.
However, just at the point when he could have cashed in on his romantic-hero status, Gosling retreated into darker roles in Lars and The Real Girl, Half Nelson and Fracture.
After a three-year hiatus when he was all but forgotten, Gosling returned in 2010 with the bleak romance Blue Valentine, a twisted love story with a controversial sex scene. Gosling earned rave reviews. He was back on the map.
He then charmed audiences in Crazy, Stupid, Love, playing a cad who meets the one girl who can change him. Female audiences were reminded of his dreaminess in The Notebook, while guys responded to his sharply dressed and streetwise lady-killing character. No doubt his almost perfect physique -- co-star Emma Stone deadpans "You look Photoshopped!" in one scene -- had a lot to do with the attention he received, but it was Gosling's likeability in interviews that people noticed.
His next role in gritty, violent drama Drive sent critics wild as well as captivating male viewers with his grim, steely performance. The Ides Of March coupled Gosling with George Clooney, the ultimate combination of cool and sexy, and sent cinema lovers to the flicks in droves.
Just as much as films played a part in Gosling's transformation into superstar, so did the internet. In August when his new films were gathering buzz, a video appeared of Ryan playing the accidental hero, stepping in to break up a fight between a sidewalk art dealer and his customer when things got a bit hairy. Two girls recorded the incident without realising a star was in their midst, and Gosling was unwittingly shown to broker peace between the two warring parties.
The video went viral and coupled with his sharp premiere outfits and adorable interviews -- he took his 11-year-old dog George on Jimmy Fallon's late-night talk show -- soon everybody was talking about Ryan. Feminist websites hailed him a as a pop culture icon.
So what does one need to emulate the coolest guy in Hollywood? Well, a celebrity girlfriend for one. No doubt scores of women are queueing up to date Ryan, whose former loves include older woman Sandra Bullock and co-stars McAdams and Michelle Williams, but the lady currently on his arm is none other than Cuban sex pot Eva Mendes.
He appears to like taking his girlfriends to Disneyland, but lucky Eva also scored a winter break to Paris and a Christmas trip to New York to meet his beloved mother.
The thing about Gosling is that not only does he love his mam, his old mohawked dog and a string of celebrity women, he's also a very talented actor.
Not since Leonardo DiCaprio have we seen an actor transition from Hollywood hunk to serious thespian, and with four films in the pipeline, it's safe to say we haven't seen the last of Ryan -- to the relief of many red-blooded women the world over.