Two TIFFs ago, Ryan Gosling laid himself open for writer/director Derek Cianfrance's romantic drama Blue Valentine; last year, he was TIFF's golden boy with starring roles in Drive and The Ides Of March.
This year, Gosling and Cianfrance are in town to present their latest collaboration, The Place Beyond The Pines, which casts Gosling as a well-intentioned but ultimately amoral stunt cyclist who starts robbing banks in the Schenectady, NY 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 of robbing banks for a long time," Gosling admits at the Pines press day, breaking into the trademark grin that's simultaneously sheepish and conspiratorial. "Ever since I was a kid. I was telling Derek, that's 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 just looked down at them and they were all smiling. They were just enjoying the show. I even saw someone with their cameraphone just kinda [mimes snapping a picture].
"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 more angry I got, the more fun they were having. It was an interesting challenge. But after we did it, we did them a lot of times - each in one take - so eventually they were just kind of exhausted, and then we started to hit some interesting places.
"But it took a while."