Ryan Gosling on Creating a ‘Blue Collar Bond’ Role in a Global Spy Thriller
Ryan Gosling is known for a carefully curated body of work that’s as diverse as his skills as an actor. Indeed, the double Oscar nominee (“La La Land”, “Half Nelson”) is not only known for his commercial films (“The Notebook”, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and the upcoming “Barbie”) , but also for its daring foray into arthouse dishes (“Blade Runner 2049”, “Drive”).
But the versatile 41-year-old actor really has his work cut out for him in Netflix’s “The Gray Man,” which premieres July 22.
The film follows the life-or-death situation that CIA agent Courtland Gentry (Ryan) aka Six finds himself embroiled in after being forced to keep an encrypted file that reveals secrets involving corrupt colleagues. Helping Six expose the cover-up is agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas), who is also about to cut all ties with the CIA.
Long before his time at the CIA, the highly qualified ex-con was snatched from a federal penitentiary in Florida – where he had been incarcerated since the age of 15 – by his master Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton).
But after an unexpected turn of events, Six suddenly finds himself stalked by Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a sociopathic former cohort of the Agency’s elite Sierra program “with a higher death toll than all of Mossad.”
The film is Ryan’s first action spy thriller that pits him against “Captain America” star Chris Evans in a cat-and-mouse chase across the globe. The production is the most expensive film ever made by the streaming network. Filmed in more than seven locations, including France, Czech Republic, Thailand, Croatia, Austria, Azerbaijan and Los Angeles, it reportedly has a price tag of $200 million.
And why not? After all, “The Gray Man” is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (“Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame”), the second most commercially successful Tinseltown directors of all time, after Steven Spielberg. .
Spy, action movie fan
For Ryan, however, the decision to take on the project was more personal than professional.
“I was a fan of spy movies and action movies growing up,” Ryan told us during our panel interview with him earlier this week. “You know, these are the movies that made me fall in love with movies when I was a kid. I always wanted to be in a movie like this. So, it’s exciting to finally be in one.
But just because he wants to be in a high-profile action or spy movie doesn’t mean Ryan will accept any role that lands in his lap.
“Obviously there have been a lot of great action movies and great characters,” the actor said. “So for me it was like, ‘How do you create a character that feels new in a certain way?’ For this project, I thought the idea of a spy who doesn’t want to be a spy was compelling.Six has no romantic idea about being James Bond…He’d rather be at home to watch Netflix like the rest of us.
“I also liked his spirit. He never gives up no matter what situation he finds himself in…no matter how impossible or extreme the obstacles are, even when he falls out of a plane without a parachute.
“And Six is hopeful, you know? It’s like that line in ‘Dumb and Dumber’ that goes, ‘So you’re saying there’s a chance (laughs)?’ I like that kind of relentless optimism despite the darkness of things. They are fun and exciting to play. When I was a kid, I always found inspiration in that.
When we asked Ryan how he managed to make his compelling portrayal look like a second skin, he compared it to how plumbers would go about doing what needs fixing.
“To personalize the role, I tried to approach it like a plumber would,” he explained. “Like, he’s just someone doing his job. If you have a leak, he comes in and fixes it. So although they let Six wear fancy clothes and send him to fancy places, it’s he’s still a very blue-collar guy – and I thought that was an interesting juxtaposition.
“We see Six in the kind of work he does in the glamorous way that we’ve seen those kind of characters in other films. But I felt like that made this character unique, and that’s how I connected with him.
The film is based on Mark Greaney’s 2009 debut novel about the freelance assassin and former CIA agent. So given its genre, it wouldn’t be a stretch to build a franchise around Six/Court, like what Hollywood did to Agent 007, who is briefly referenced in one scene, and the Jason Bourne series, with Matt Damon.
Explaining the possibility of seeing Six or Court in more missions after the release of ‘The Gray Man’, Ryan said: “Maybe he’ll be seen as a ‘blue-collar Bond’. It’s hard to compare because the James Bond movies have such an incredible legacy.
“But I think Six is an interesting person because this movie is about what it wants. A lot of the heroes in these movies either want revenge, or power, or money, or information. But Six just wants to be free. All he wants is his freedom. And that’s something most of us can relate to.
Adding to the pressure for Six is the fact that it’s Chris Evans’ bloodthirsty persona standing against him.
“Yeah, Six and Lloyd couldn’t be more opposites,” Ryan noted. “That’s what was fun with those two opponents. Lloyd loves his job…it’s something he’s always wanted to do. He has such romantic ideas about himself and what he does for a living. He has these delusions of grandeur.
“Six, on the other hand, just doesn’t want anything to do with this world. So people like Lloyd are so far removed from Six’s mindset that he can’t understand why they’re doing this. that they make.
Asked about an incident on set on the first day of filming, where Chris accidentally hit him with his prop gun, Ryan joked, “Accidents happen. Listen, acting is a great job. You get health care, free food, and they drive you to work. So every once in a while you have to point a gun in the face (laughs) – it’s a small price to pay.
“But our fight scenes were so much fun to do. And Chris was having a lot of fun playing his character, which made it even more fun for me to play as him.
Asked what he found difficult about preparing for the action-packed fight scenes, Ryan said he was careful not to hit other actors and stunt performers.
He explained, “It took a long time to find Six’s fighting style. I had an amazing stunt coordinator named Danny Hernandez, and we spent months learning different styles of martial arts and deciding what would be the best style for me and my character. A lot of the credit goes to him and all the other stunt guys who are responsible for making it look like I actually know what I’m doing (laughs).
“Looking back, I don’t think I was really prepared physically. If I could go back in time, I would say to myself to work on my cardio more, because I had not foreseen the number of races that there would be in Prague.
“But I had my best day ever. And it was fun pushing myself that way. So to recharge and maintain my energy, I took a lot of Epsom salt baths (laughs). It was very difficult physically.
“In addition to my time with the stunt team, I also worked a lot with this technical advisor named Chili Palmer, who was a member of Delta Force. He was as close to the Gray Man as ever. So I I just tried to be joined at the hip with Chili, who was there with me for every scene, how I would hold myself or what I would say, he had so many great suggestions that came from his own experience.
Scene in Prague
Which of the film’s many action sequences does he prefer?
“There are so many, but the one in Prague was so much fun to do because it’s such a beautiful city – from the town square to everything on the train,” he recalls. “The train sequence kind of sums up the whole experience for me because there’s a moment at the end where I’m running over the cars, and they’re falling behind me!
“Throughout the whole movie, I felt like I barely walked out of every action sequence alive. That scene in Prague was also the last thing we shot, so that was very exciting.
How was it different to learn action choreography compared to dance choreography? Did having a dance background help the actor prepare for his role in ‘The Gray Man’?
“I guess so,” Ryan said with a laugh. “I didn’t know it was going to be useful. You know, the Russos told me he would be inserted by the stunt team and I guess he did in the end. If I could have worn my Hammer pants, I think I would have done even better. Unfortunately, it didn’t suit the film. So, maybe in the sequel (laughs)?”
The latest entertainment news straight to your inbox
To subscribe to MORE APPLICANT to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to news, download as early as 4am and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.