A Look Back at Ryan Gosling’s Epic Hollywood Transformation
It’s been a long, wild ride for Hollywood heavyweight Ryan Gosling. The former child star went from talent show stages in his hometown of London, Ontario as a hopeful pre-teen to the bright lights of — you guessed it! — La La Land as a 37-year-old man, all in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Scroll on to follow his decades-long journey in showbiz, from his The Notebook highs to his breakup lows, and everything in between.
Mickey Mouse Club Days: These days, we know Ryan Gosling as one of Hollywood’s most sought after leading men, but back in the early ‘90s, he was better known as one of Disney’s coolest Mouseketeers. At 12 years old, the Canadian-born actor earned himself a two-year spot on the show among some of today’s hottest stars, including Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and JC Chasez, where he danced, sang, and acted his little heart out: Just check out this souful rendition of “Cry for You” by Jodeci! (Photo via Disney)
Are you Afraid of the Dark?: After his stint at the House of Mouse, the young actor moved on to spookier pastures, appearing in Nickelodean favorite Are you Afraid of the Dark? alongside Gilbert Gottfried. His episode, “The Tale of Station 109.1,” saw him attempting to rid his younger brother Chris of an obsession with all things macabre by placing him in a closed hearse. Morbid much, Ryan? (Photo via Nickolodean)
Goosebumps: The then 16-year-old kept the fright train rolling with a stint on Goosebumps next, where he not only showed off his flowing locks (we’re in serious awe of that feathering!), but his best teenage angst while attempting to save his friends and family from the fate of a haunted camera with the power to bestow terrible fates on those captured by its flash. (Photo via Fox Kids)
Young Hercules: At 18, the child star showed off his newly muscular frame as a devilishly handsome young God in-training who would eventually grow up to become Kevin Sorbo. Winking and flexing with verve, the world got its first glimpse of the sly heartthrob Gosling would grow up to be, and the future was looking bright, indeed. (Photo via NBC)
Leading man: After transitioning to the realm of film with 2000’s Remember the Titans, the father of two snagged his first leading role with 2001’s The Believer. Playing a violent Neo-Nazi with a Jewish background (yes, you read that right!), the part served to distance him from the lighter material of his younger days, giving us an idea of his broad-spanning acting range. (Photo via Fireworks Pictures)
Indie phase: The world of film stuck for the native Northerner, who explored the indie realm with spots in the psychological thriller Murder by Numbers, football flick The Slaughter Rule, and the dark drama The United States of Leland. He flirted with the dark side in the hair department, too, trying a dark brunette hue out on his normally sandy-blonde locks. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty)
Younger man: Film credit wasn’t all the Golden Globe winner took home from his experience on the set of Murder by Numbers: The then-20-year-old also walked away with a girlfriend in his 37-year-old co-star Sandra Bullock. Despite their 17 year age gap, Bullock and her younger suitor dated for roughly a year before calling it quits. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic/Getty)
The Notebook: Those that didn’t know Gosling’s name before certainly knew it after seeing The Notebook, which catapulted the rising star straight to A-list status. His career-defining role came in the form of Noah Calhoun: a stubborn, wildly romantic young man from the wrong side of the tracks who stopped at nothing to earn the approval of his lover — with or without the blessing of her hoity-toity family. Not only did the film earn him multiple nods at the Teen Choice Awards, he also took home the award for Best Kiss in a film at the MTV Movie Awards, where he recreated the moment with co-star Rachel McAdams in a now-iconic moment. (Photo via New Line Cinema)
The Rachel years: We can only imagine how easy it would be to become swept up in the passion on the set of one of the most romantic films of all time, and that’s pretty much exactly what happened with Gosling and McAdams. Despite reports that the pair initially loathed each other, the real life Allie and Noah eventually fell head over heels for one another, much to the delight of the film’s legions of fans. In fact, it would be almost four years before they parted ways. Ah, young love! (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Lars and the Real Girl: For his next trick, the Oscar nominee charmed critics as Lars Lindstrom, a lonely small-town man who falls in love with a blow-up doll. Sporting a fresh beard and his character’s heart on his sleeve, our guy nabbed his first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, dismal box office reports be darned. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
Hey girl: Despite the fact that he never technically said it (or so he claims)!, the words “Hey girl” were attributed to the actor in the midst of his growing fame thanks to blogger Douglas Reinhardt, who gave birth to the now-iconic Tumblr page, “F*ck Yeah, Ryan Gosling. Suddenly, an internet sensation was born, with the actor's picture being paired with the words “Hey girl,” and the sweet whisperings of an imaginary perfect and uber-feminist boyfriend. Though the blog has since slowed down, with the last post seven months ago, its mainstream poster boy certainly has not. (Photo via Kevin Winter)
Dead Man’s Bones: Even the La La Land star's biggest fans may not be aware that the film wasn’t his first foray into music since his MMC days — far from it. At the height of his fame, he showed off his pipes on a solo recording called “Put Me in the Car," after which he joined forces with friend Zack Shields to form the late aughts band Dead Men’s Bones. They released just one album, 2009’s self-titled LP, though there's since been talk of a second. We’re all ears, boys! (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
Blue Valentine If The Notebook made Gosling a household name, Blue Valentine cemented its place in movie history, with one film bringing him together with his fictional true love and the second tearing him away from another. He played opposite Michelle Williams in the latter, a low-budget indie type, making up two halves of a couple whose marriage is falling apart. It felt raw, real, and completely Earth-shattering, and the world never fully recovered. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
Crazy, Stupid, Love We first got to experience the magical onscreen chemistry between our favorite comedic couple, Gosling and Emma Stone, in 2010’s Crazy, Stupid, Love. Proving he could make us laugh just as easily as he could make us swoon, our infatuation with everyone’s favorite Golden Globe winner proved he was the full package the moment he donned Jacob Palmers suit as a smooth-talking ladies’ man with a heart of gold. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Taking a break: In 2013, during what seemed like the pinnacle of his career, Gosling took the public by shock when he announced he would be taking a break to direct. “I just need a little break for myself… I need to give myself and the audience a little break,” he said at the time. All the better to spend time with the companion he referred to as the “love of his live” — his late dog, George. Awwww! (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
The One: As he had with his two most high-profile relationships prior, the Oscar nominee met his now-wife, Eva Mendes, on the set of a shared film. Playing a pair of reunited lovers in The Place Behind the Pines, the notoriously private couple fell in love reciting their lines to one another onscreen, and the rest is history. Though they never wed (that we know of!), the two share their lives together, raising their two daughters, Esmerelda Amalda (three) and Amada Lee (one) as a team. Swoon! (Photo via Sonia Recchia/Getty)
La La Land: Gosling’s career would’ve been impressive with or without 2016’s La La Land, but after taking on struggling jazz musician Sebastian Wilder, it was positively unrivaled. As the actor himself reminded us in jest on SNL, he basically singlehandedly revived jazz (and let’s be real, the musical genre) — with a little help from his onscreen paramour Emma Stone, of course. Though the fim didn’t ultimately take home Best Picture at the Oscars, losing out to Moonlight at the last minute, its star certainly won gold in all of our hearts. (Photo via Summit Entertainment)
Blade Runner 2049 Now 37 (happy birthday, Ryan!), the Hollywood vet most recently starred alongside acting legend Harrison Ford in Blade Runner 2049. We could have predicted the flick would be a box office leader based solely on the pair’s hilarious banter during their press interviews, but we had no idea just HOW amazing it would do: As Variety recently reported, it’s currently leading worldwide ticket sales with $44.4 million in earnings. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Which Ryan is your favorite Ryan? Tell us over @BritandCo.
Which Ryan is your favorite Ryan? Tell us over @BritandCo.
(Photos via Robert Marquardt/Getty)
Nicole is the weekend editor for Brit + Co who loves bringing you all the latest buzz. When she's not busy typing away into the wee hours, you can usually find her canoodling with her fur babies, rooting around in a bookstore, or rocking out at a concert of some sort (Guns N' Roses forever!). Check out all her latest musings and past work at nicolebjean.com.