'Fracture' pairs him with Hopkins

The Baltimore Sun

Check the most recent entries on actor Ryan Gosling's career dance card:

Young heartthrob in a treacly romance that critics loathed and the public loved.

Cokehead teacher in one of the cheapest and most depressing indie films of 2006.

Cocky district attorney opposite murderous Anthony Hopkins in a police-procedural genre movie opening today.

"If anything, I've been painted with this 'independent, brooding actor' brush," said Gosling, who was nominated for a best-actor Oscar in January for playing that addicted instructor in Half Nelson.

"Which doesn't really have anything to do with me," he added in a phone interview. "I enjoy being able to take on all kinds of different roles in different sizes of films. Going from doing Half Nelson, which cost $700,000 to make, to doing a big genre movie with Anthony Hopkins, it keeps me on my toes."

So the people casting Mission Impossible: IV shouldn't scratch Gosling off the wish list?

"Never say never," he said with a laugh.

Gosling was born and raised in Ontario before heading to Hollywood at age 12 for The Mickey Mouse Club. At 26, he has a disarming way of embracing everything he's already done, or might do in the future. Good movies? Not-so-great movies? He'll talk about them all and say he gained from the experience.

Gosling first roared to the top of casting lists in 2004, when his romantic lead in The Notebook opposite Rachel McAdams was a surprise hit. Critics are still attacked by fans for panning the film's stickier moments.

"The Notebook," Gosling said, "was an important part of my life. There were struggles making it, but it was great in so many ways. I like the romantic part of it, the idea of making love stories. There's a John Cassavetes quote, that movies should be about love or the lack of it, and more people should do movies that way."

Since then, Gosling added, "I can't tell you how many people come up to me and tell me that's their story, or their parents' story."

In Fracture, opening today, Gosling's character prosecutes a smug Hopkins, accused of the attempted murder of his wife. Hopkins, playing a wealthy, brilliant design engineer, toys with his pursuers with the same cruel delight he employed as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.

Reading the Fracture script, Gosling was drawn to a movie from the police genre but offering a new twist, and the chance to work with Hopkins.

"One can only aspire to be in a position where you're Anthony's age, and at the top of your field; and you're also able to explore all your other interests. He's a writer, a director, a composer, a painter. I try not to work too much - I don't always go from one movie to another; I try to find a balance," Gosling said.

He also watched and learned how Hopkins treated people on the movie set.

"How to make a movie, and how to make everyone feel they're a part of it," as Gosling described it. "I've seen more actors than not that act as if the crew is there to facilitate their journey, and their performance. And he's quite the opposite. He makes everyone feel like it's their movie too."

Gosling notes that filmmakers can forget that a shoot is a contained event that hundreds of people involved mark their lives by. "They're kind of a time capsule for everyone who was there. Everyone is a part of it, and their energy and who they are is part of the film."

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