They were eager to collaborate together again, and reunited for Cianfrance's latest feature, "The Place Beyond the Pines." The epic drama full of spectacular plot twists explores the concept of legacy, and co-stars Bradley Cooper and Gosling's real-life leading lady, Eva Mendes.
Gosling plays a stunt motorcycle rider who begins robbing banks after he finds out he has a one-year-old son with a former paramour named Romina (Mendes). Cooper balances out the film as an idealistic, all-American cop who has a life-changing run-in with Gosling's character.
Moviefone caught up with Gosling and Cianfrance during the Toronto Film Festival, and chatted about everything from bank robbing to Gosling's magical qualities.
Derek, last night [at the gala] Ryan said that meeting you changed his life and changed him as an actor. How has collaborating with him changed you as a filmmaker? Derek Cianfrance: Ryan is just a magic person. He makes everything better around him. You've seen it when he breaks up fights in New York City or saves people from getting run over by cars. When you're making a movie with Ryan, that's what he does. He just makes it better. He makes me a better filmmaker, he makes the actors around him better. He's just a magic man. That's all I can say. As a human being he's one of the people that I love most in my life. I'm very thankful for his friendship and his collaboration, and I can't wait to see his film ["How to Catch a Monster"] because I think he'll make a really great filmmaker. Honestly, he already is.
Can you talk a bit about your unusual audition process with Eva? I had asked Ryan about who he thought should be Romina. We thought about it a lot. He had known Eva a little bit. He said, "You should meet with Eva because she's great, I think she's got a lot to offer that maybe people haven't seen, which would be great." So I said OK. She came to this audition with no makeup on, trying her hardest to look ugly. But of course she looked stunning. It meant so much to me that she tried to make herself look ugly. I said, "You don't have to audition. Didn't you grow up in LA? Would you just take me on a ride around Los Angeles and show me where you grew up?"
[Gosling walks in]
DC: Hey, Ry.
Ryan Gosling: Hey, buddy.
DC: So she took me on a ride around Los Angeles and showed me where she grew up, and all the houses she had lived in growing up...
RG: You're gonna make me jealous.
DC: Yeah. [Laughs] And she opened up to me about her life, and it was clear to me that she had this wealth inside of her. So she became Romina right there.
What was it like filming the robbery scenes, particularly since you were working with real bank tellers? RG: It was funny. I've been fantasizing about robbing banks since I was a kid. And then telling Derek that's my fantasy, that if ever I could rob a bank I'd do it on a motorcycle this way, and he said, "Oh, that's weird, I just wrote a script about that!" It just felt meant to be. And then he said, "I'm going to get you to rob banks for 'real'" -- there'd be no cuts and real bank tellers and I'd have to ride the bike up, rob it and ride the bike away. I was very excited and I thought it was going to be really scary.
Then I got up there and in the heat of screaming at these people I looked down at them and they were all smiling. And they were just enjoying the show. I even saw someone with their camera phone. Derek and I had to go regroup after the first one, and 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 have to scare them." And then I went back and did it again. I think the more angry I got, the more fun they were having. It was an interesting challenge. But we did it a lot of times, each in one take, so eventually the show was over and they were kind of exhausted. And then we started to hit some interesting places. But it took a while.
"The Place Beyond the Pines" premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and has been picked up by Focus Features. The release date has not been set.