Posted April 4, 2013 by Sam in Flicks

Gosling: Shame part of the process in ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’

Ryan Gosling plays a festival-circuit motorcycle daredevil turned outlaw in The Place Beyond the Pines. The dramatic three-part film explores how the sins of the fathers affect the lives and relationships of their sons. Gosling, who sported platinum hair and a neck tattoo to play a stunt driver, recently spoke about the triptych film with Whopperjaw and a roundtable of reporters. Here’s what the actor and soon-to-be director had to say about the movie.

Did you like playing a character with a touch of danger to him?
Well, just trying to surf and turf it a little bit.  Keep it interesting for you guys.

How did you train for the motorcycle riding scenes?
Well, it was just basically me and Rick Miller. When Batman gets on the motorcycle, it’s Rick Miller in the Batman suit.  He is the best and he’s become a good friend. We were just was riding motorcycles around Schenectady for a month, that was the training.

Any dangerous turns there?
Yeah, I guess.  I mean, the nature of the way [director] Derek [Cianfrance] wanted to shoot the film was all of the heist in one shot.

 In Drive, I smash a guy’s head in an elevator and you never hear about it again. In this, there are only two shots fired and they resonate through the entire movie.  

It’s kind of like Drive.
Drive is a very surreal movie, more of a dream, and this is a film that’s all about consequences and the ramifications of your actions. In Drive, I smash a guy’s head in an elevator and you never hear about it again.  In this, there are only two shots fired and they resonate through the entire movie.

So Drive was like a fairytale and this one was kind of the opposite of a fairytale?
I guess to me, they are like The Notebook and Blue Valentine.

When you read the script and saw its triptych nature, was that strange to you?
I loved the structural narrative of the movie, I think it’s so interesting, and it reminds me of that film The Red and the White, that Russian film, where you are sort of, you follow one soldier until he is killed and you follow the guy that killed him and the baton keeps being passed . . . All the reasons that you go to the movies are still there. There are still the conventions of a heist film, a crime drama, a family drama and a thriller and yet, it’s deconstructed and laid out in a way that allows you to have a different experience watching it.  As part of the audience I appreciate that because I love those genres but it is nice to experience them in a different way.

I didn’t want to be photographed, or even look at myself in the mirror. I felt ridiculous and I started to feel probably exactly how this character felt.

Do you prefer Derek’s style of directing? He said that he gives you free will.
Yeah, he says that, but that’s not true.  For instance, with the face tattoo, I regretted it instantly. I said. “This looks ridiculous. I can’t do this to me or your movie.” He said, “Well that’s what people do with face tattoos, they regret them; this movie is about consequences, so now you are stuck with it.”  I was upset at the time but I was glad that he held my feet to the fire in that way, because it did give me the sense of shame that I don’t think I could have acted in the film.  I didn’t want to be photographed, or even look at myself in the mirror. I felt ridiculous and I started to feel probably exactly how this character felt.  This was a character who was a melting pot of every masculine cliché: tattoos, muscles and guns. It’s overkill, and when he is presented with this child that he didn’t know that he had, it’s like a mirror is held up to him and he realizes that he’s not a man at all . . . that all of those things don’t make you a man, and at the heart of it, he’s an empty person.  He desperately tries to give this grand gesture to his kid which is equally as foolish as a knife under your eye.

Being set in Schenectady is definitely the opposite of fantasy. It can be a pretty hard scrabble. Did staying there give you an idea of what kind of life your character led?
It did and I think it’s part of the beauty of the way Derek works, that he just creates an environment for you that’s so natural that you kind of, if you are in it long enough, acclimate to it in a certain degree.  For instance, in the bank, those were the real tellers that work at that bank and people that go to that bank. [Derek] he tries to surround you with as much–as many people from that environment–as possible. You try and get to where they are.

Can you talk about working with Eva, what was it like, and this very intense chemistry that was created there?
I would like to say it’s our chemistry but I think the reality is that it’s Derek’s process.  I think that chemistry is evident in other relationships in the movie as well and I think the chemistry between Dane and Emory, or Bradley and Rose, so much of it is just about Derek’s process, and the kind of environment that he puts you in that evokes a kind of connection.

What lessons have you learned along the way to prepare you for being a director?
It feels like the things that I admire about the filmmakers I have worked with is that they are themselves. They don’t try and make movies like anyone else and it’s not in an egocentric way.  It’s just that I think when you are a director, there’s nowhere to hide.  You are completely exposed.  As an actor you can say it’s the character, or I didn’t write it, I didn’t direct it, I didn’t cut it, I didn’t score it or I didn’t make that poster.  You can hide behind a lot of things.  Whereas as a filmmaker, you are responsible for everything. I didn’t realize exactly how much you can tell about a filmmaker by their films.


Sam is live-music -loving vegetarian communications professional with an entertainment, travel and tourism background. A restless soul, Sam believes in getting out there and doing things because you only go around once but knows she could benefit from a little more sleep. Give her a reason to see a movie, catch a concert or explore a new destination at [email protected].