Despite never starring in a movie that’s grossed more than $100 million, Ryan Gosling is perhaps the hottest actor alive. His not-Photoshopped performance as a suave ladies man in this summer’s Crazy Stupid Love reminded moviegoers that the understated guy from Blue Valentine and Lars and the Real Girl is a full-fledged Movie Star. Yes, he became a heartthrob after The Notebook, but Gosling 2011 is something new. Gosling 2004 followed up the popular Nicholas Sparks romance with the little-seen Stay and the indie, Half Nelson, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. Gosling 2011 seems aggressively poised to make the leap to superstardom. He fights crime now. He charms the talk-show hosts. And his every kiss is documented. Throw in his two high-profile films — The Ides of March and Drive — screening at this weekend’s Toronto Film Festival, a homecoming of sorts for the Ontario native, and it feels like a coronation. These are the types of leading-man roles that made Robert Redford or Steve McQueen who they were in their primes.
To see Ryan Gosling at this moment in time is special. He is just entering his 30s — he turns 31 in November — the decade when male movie stars build their legacy. Johnny Depp was 30 when he filmed Ed Wood. Warren Beatty was 30 when Bonnie & Clyde came out. Jack Nicholson was 33 in Five Easy Pieces. Redford was 33 when Butch Cassidy rode into theaters. Is there any other 30-something actor you’d rather watch for the next 10 years? (Leonardo DiCaprio is the only other actor in the conversation, no?)
With his growing clout, Gosling is bound to have the opportunity to make the movies he wants, so that in itself will be interesting. He’s been so eclectic thus far, but he’s also a natural for the studio-engineered films that keep the industry afloat. Will he be lured by a franchise? Will he continue to work with original directors of his generation (like Derek Cianfrance, Nicolas Winding Refn, Ruben Fleischer) or will he take an apprenticeship with the established masters, like DiCaprio and Matt Damon have done?
Time will tell. For now, tell me which 30-something actor you’re most excited to watch for the next decade?