THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES directed by Derek Cianfrance, written by Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder, with Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen. An Alliance Films release. 140 minutes. Opens Friday (April 12). For venues and times, see listings.
Ryan Gosling trusts Derek Cianfrance, and the feeling's mutual.
After bringing the raw love story Blue Valentine to the Toronto Film Festival in 2010, the actor and director have returned with The Place Beyond The Pines, starring Gosling as a well-intentioned but ultimately amoral stunt motorcyclist who starts robbing banks in the Schenectady, New York, area to support the son he didn't know he had.
It's an ambitious and rather grim drama, but Gosling never hesitated. Not only did he want to work with Cianfrance again, but the project would let the London, Ontario, native check something off his bucket list.
"I've been fantasizing about robbing banks for a long time - ever since I was a kid," Gosling admits at the Pines press day, breaking into the trademark grin that's simultaneously sheepish and conspiratorial.
"I told Derek that was my fantasy: ‘If ever I could rob a bank, I would do it on a motorcycle, and I would do it this way.' And he said, ‘Oh, that's weird, I just wrote a script about that.' It just felt meant to be."
Cianfrance didn't want the robbery scenes to be slick, though.
"He said I was gonna get to rob the banks for real," Gosling explains. "There'd be no cuts, and real people in there, real bank tellers. I'd have to ride the bike up, rob [the bank], ride the bike away. I was very excited - I thought I was gonna be real scary."
It didn't quite work out that way.
"I got up there," Gosling says, "and in the heat of screaming at these people, I looked down at them and they were all smiling. They were just enjoying the show. I even saw someone with their camera phone just kinda...."
He mimes snapping a picture and grinning.
"Derek and I had to go regroup after the first one," he continues, the grin creeping back across his face. "We were like, ‘Oh, no! They're not scared, they're entertained! They're having fun, they're happy to be in a movie!' And then Derek was like, ‘Well, you gotta scare 'em, you know?' And I was like, ‘Okay.' And I went back and did it again.
"But I think the angrier I got, the more fun they were having. It was an interesting challenge. But after we did [each robbery] a lot of times - each in one take - eventually they were just kind of exhausted, and then we started to hit some interesting places. But it took a while."