Ryan Gosling Has Arrived: Career Curve

This appears to be the year of Ryan Gosling. Can you believe he was once a Mouseketeer?

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It would appear that Ryan Gosling is certain to be crowned the movie star of 2011. He's already starred in a hit rom-com and an art-house sensation, and now he's got the political thriller "Ides of March," which arrived Friday. So where did this handsome and talented fellow come from, exactly?
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You'd never know it from the often ridiculous Brooklyn-esque accent and the smoldering intensity, but Gosling hails from Ontario, Canada. He came to the States to be part of perhaps the greatest class of Mickey Mouse Clubbers ever, one that included Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Keri Russell.
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His first lead role in a film came the following year in 2001's "The Believer," in which he starred as a young Jewish man who turns from brilliant student to neo-Nazi. Though audiences largely ignored the film, the role earned Gosling raves, and he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actor.
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Gosling went dark again — notice a pattern? — in 2002 with "Murder by Numbers." He co-starred with Michael Pitt as half of a wealthy, brilliant and murderous duo based on Leopold and Loeb, with Sandra Bullock as the detective out to catch them. She and Gosling, 16 years her junior, began a two-year romance on-set.
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After a pair of unseen films—"The Slaughter Rule" and "The United States of Leland"—Gosling broke through to box-office success in Nick Cassavetes' adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel "The Notebook" opposite Rachel McAdams. If you're a bird, I'm a bird!
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Their instantly iconic "Notebook" lip-lock won them Best Kiss at the MTV Movie Awards, but their real-life love was doomed. "The only thing I remember is we both went down swingin' and we called it a draw," Gosling would say after the break-up.
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Rather than cash in on his new romantic lead status, Gosling played a suicidal man having visions of dead people in "Stay," one of those films loaded with talented people—Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Bob Hoskins, Janeane Garafolo, director Marc Foster and writer David Benioff—that inexplicably falls flat.
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In 2006's "Half Nelson," Gosling hit his stride. His portrayal of a drug-addicted middle-school teacher in Brooklyn who forms an unusual friendship with student Shareeka Epps honed his soon-to-be-trademark intensity. It was a brilliant and wrenching turn that earned him an Oscar nod for Best Actor.
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Next up: An uncommonly safe choice, "Fracture," with Gosling as a young, ambitious lawyer too focused on his career to solve a murder, with Anthony Hopkins the primary suspect. It was a bore: Hopkins reprised his "Silence of the Lambs" mode, Gosling didn’t do much with his role and the twists just weren't satisfying.
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But the actor was back to his indie ways in 2007 with a gonzo performance in "Lars and the Real Girl" as a delusional man who falls in love with an inflatable doll he treats like an actual person, taking her to church and family dinners. The film earned him Best Actor nods at the Golden Globes and from the Screen Actors Guild.
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Gosling stepped away from Hollywood for a spell, using some of the time to focus on his band, Dead Man's Bones, releasing a self-titled album of songs about ghosts and goblins and doing a brief tour.
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Gosling resurfaced in December 2010 with "All Good Things," based on the true story of a New York City real estate scion-turned-murderous cross-dresser. It was a commercial flop and artistically uneven. Although Gosling's performance felt too mannered, Kirsten Dunst's was magnificent — and resuscitated her career.
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That month saw the release of "Blue Valentine," a searing break-up drama with Michelle Williams that flipped back and forth between the couple's courtship and disintegration. The film was an unflinching, rawly emotional look at just how cruel love can make you. Williams earned an Oscar nod, but Gosling was overlooked.
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Gosling and "Blue Valentine" writer-director Derek Cianfrance had such a good experience working together that in 2011 they shot another film together, "The Place Beyond the Pines." Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt rider mulling a life of crime to support his family. The film co-stars Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne.
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The Year of Gosling officially kicked off July 29, 2011, with the release of "Crazy Stupid Love," in which he went way against type with his hilarious portrayal of a ladies' man who helps Steve Carell recapture his mojo after a rough break-up. Asked why he took the role, he told us, "'Cuz I love Steve Carell, I just love him."
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Then came "Drive" on Sept. 16, in which he played a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway man. When a heist goes horribly wrong, Gosling must go on the run, desperate to get out from under a giant bag of money that isn’t his. Hyper-stylized, wildly violent and incredibly intense, it's one of the year's best films.
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As with Cianfrance, Gosling forged a great relationship with "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn, with whom he'll remake "Logan's Run" and film "Only God Forgives," about a gangster and a Bangkok cop who settle things in a Thai-style boxing match.
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And now there's "Ides of March," a political thriller based on the play "Farragut North," about a hotshot political media consultant whose libido and hubris land him in a mess of trouble, sparking a transformation from idealistic young man to cynical Darwinist.
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Next time we see Gosling, it'll be in "Gangster Squad," Ruben Fleischer's film about the LAPD's war in the 1940s to keep the East Coast Mafia at bay. The all-star cast includes Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte and more. It's not due until Oct. 10, 2012—but maybe 2012 will be the Year of Gosling all over again.
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