Ryan Gosling used the Dirty Dancing move in real life and other Crazy, Stupid, Love secrets
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The making of Crazy, Stupid, Love might have as many outrageous, unexpected behind-the-scenes stories as the 2011 rom-com itself.
With a stacked cast that includes the likes of Julianne Moore, Steve Carell, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon, the movie set out to be a “romantic-comedy from the male point of view,” according to co-director Glenn Ficarra.
The result was a film about second chances as Cal (Carell) fights to reclaim his ‘manhood’ and his marriage, while his wingman Jacob (Gosling) gets struck by Cupid’s arrow. The film also notably marked the first onscreen romantic pairing of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and Gosling brought a lot of playful inventiveness to the role of sleek playboy Jacob, felled by the goofy, sarcastic Hannah (Stone). Here are some crazy, far-from-stupid revelations about the making of Crazy Stupid Love.
And I’ve Had the Time of My Life…
One of the film’s most iconic moments comes when Hannah questions Jacob about his patented seduction moves, and he reveals that he uses the lift from Dirty Dancing to win women over — a move that came from Gosling himself.
It should come as no surprise that the inspiration for beloved “Hey Girl” memes might have a few tricks up his sleeve, and Ficarra and Requa could not resist the chance to put this outlandish one in the movie. In the original script, Gosling’s Jacob wooed Hannah with a simple look.
But when Ficarra, Requa, and Fogelman met with the actor to talk through the script, Ryan talked about the time “he had done the Dirty Dancing lift in real life to a girl,” says Requa. “Me and Glenn turned to each other and said, ‘Ok, that’s going in the movie!” He’s like, ‘No you can’t put that in the movie.’ We put it in, much to his chagrin.”
Fogelman then scripted the moment with inspiration from Gosling’s own use of this patented swoon-inducing move. Stone and Gosling practiced the lift for weeks and executed it themselves, no stunt doubles required. “It’s harder than it looks, and it’s scary,” says Ficarra. “Ryan really worked hard. He’s a trained dancer, so he was concentrating on making Emma feel safe.”
Gosling poured loads of work into the film beyond the lift, getting his body into prime shape for a scene where he takes his shirt off and Hannah declares, “It’s like you’re photoshopped.” Screenwriter Dan Fogelman (This Is Us) adds, “I remember thinking if this movie ever gets made, that’s going to be the last line of the trailer, and it was.”
Gosling saw that line and that moment as the key to his character, according to Requa and Ficarra. Ficarra says, “After reading that, Ryan said, ‘I think I’ve got to get totally jacked for this thing,’ which he later grew to regret after six weeks of eating nothing but chicken breast and broccoli.” Requa adds, “He said his character viewed his body as a present for women.”
In Search of a Title
The film remained without a title for nearly all of production, going simply by the ‘Untitled Dan Fogelman Project’ or UDF on yellow production signs scattered about Los Angeles during location shoots. Ficarra and Requa were so desperate to name the movie they held a contest for cast and crew, promising an iPad to whoever came up with the winning title. “We had a t-shirt that was covered in 300 titles,” Ficarra says of the number of suggestions they fielded.
At one point, the film was called Romantical after a flubbed line from Jonah Bobo (Robbie). The studio, however, pushed for Wingman. “We thought that was a good idea because we thought that will appeal to guys since it’s not just a chick-flick,” says Requa. But Fogelman hated it. Ultimately, Crazy, Stupid, Love came from another piece of Bobo’s dialogue, but it didn’t come without its misgivings. The advertising campaign broke out the words with images from the film in a way Fogelman feared would backfire. “I had an office and there was a billboard for the movie out front, and it just said, ‘This is Stupid!’ and I was like, ‘Oh no! We’ve really screwed this up.’”
Be Better than the Gap
In one of the film’s most hilarious) lines, Jacob admonishes Cal to “be better than the Gap” during his mall makeover. “I had nothing against the Gap,” says Fogelman. “I was probably shopping too much at the Gap.” Still, the line raised eyebrows at Warner Bros. because then-studio chief Alan Horn was close friends with the brand’s CEO. “We were repeatedly asked by the head of the studio to take that out,” says Ficarra. “And we’re like, ‘It’s too funny. We can’t do it.’” Horn eventually called his friend to give him fair warning, and the line remained.
Dan Fogelman loves a good family-related twist (see all of This Is Us), but he laid the groundwork for those unexpected domestic rug-pull moments in this film, earning him the nickname “M. Night Frank Capra” from Ficarra and Requa. At the movie’s climax, we discover — spoiler alert! — Hannah (Stone) is not only the woman of Jacob’s dreams, but also Cal and Emily’s (Moore) daughter. The “nana” they’ve been referring to is not a grandparent but their daughter Hannah, using her childhood nickname from when she couldn’t pronounce the “Ha” – an idea Fogelman says he came up with while sending punch drunk emails on a personal writer’s retreat in Joshua Tree.
But eagle-eyed viewers could have known the truth from the film’s first scene. “When [Analeigh Tipton] is chasing Joey King’s [Molly] around the house, they go by a couch and on the back of couch is a bunch of pictures, including a picture of the family with Emma Stone,” reveals Requa, while Ficarra adds, “It’s right in front of the camera. We wanted to see how in-your-face we could get.” Much like love itself, it turns out we’re pretty bad at seeing what’s right in front of us.
When Claire (Beth Littleford) discovers her daughter Jessica’s (Analeigh Tipton) nude photos, she freaks out and shrieks “Va-Jay-Jay!” over and over. Turns out this wasn’t because Fogelman is a huge Shonda Rhimes fan (though could you imagine the Kleenex sponsorship if those two teamed up?).
“She used to say ‘vagina,’” explains Requa. “That vagina got us an R-rating. The word ‘vagina.’ You cannot say it in a PG-13 movie. So we had to digitally change her mouth and re-loop the whole thing…You can show a considerable amount of violence. You can blow people’s heads off, no problem. But mention anatomy, we’re all going to jail.”
David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) gets a lot of play onscreen with Emily revealing to Cal her infidelity with her coworker, and Cal repeatedly telling anyone who will listen that his wife slept with David Lindhagen. Full name only. The name comes full circle when David arrives in Cal’s backyard during the film’s climax and Jacob punches him square in the jaw upon learning he’s the David Lindhagen who has caused his friend so much angst (after removing his ring like a gentleman, a bit Requa notes was all Gosling’s idea).
When Fogelman first penned the script, the character was named David Jacobowitz, which Fogelman says is the name of his cousin. The name did not clear the legal department, and Fogelman says he also knew that Bacon’s casting didn’t really jive with that name choice. He opted for Lindhagen to maintain the three-syllable effect, but the studio insisted on Lindholm. “We’re shooting the first time in the script where it’s spoken, which is when Julianne is driving with Steve,” explains Requa. “And she gets on the little walkie-talkie and goes, ‘Why is it Lindholm? We’ve been rehearsing with Lindhagen.’
They explained to her it was the studio’s wishes and not theirs. “We’re like, ‘We would love it if you don’t do it,'” Requa says. “And she goes, ‘Ok, I’m not doing it.’ And that’s how it became Lindhagen.”
Hannah and Jacob essentially fall in love over the course of a single night, talking about his coin bears and Brookstone purchases while they lounge in his bed. Gosling and Stone improvised this entire scene. Originally, we saw their love story unfold via montage. “We already had a lot of montages, so we said, ‘If they can fall in love in a night, that would be helpful,’” recalls Ficarra.
Between takes on set throughout filming, Gosling and Stone had developed a steady, hilarious patois to pass the long hours. “We were like, ‘Do that weird stuff you’ve been driving everybody crazy with,’” says Requa. “It feels real because it is real. It’s what they were doing when they were just hanging out goofing around.” They shot the scene over the course of six hours one night, just letting the two actors riff. “The crew was ready to revolt; it was like three in the morning,” jokes Ficarra.
Fogelman remembers it was filmed down the street from his house at the time and walking over to watch. “Everybody was laughing, and I remember thinking, ‘This is really funny, but none of this is going to make the movie,’” he says. But as it turned out, according to Requa, “We came to the editing room a couple weeks later, and it was perfect. It didn’t change. It’s in the movie.”
Crazy Stupid Love