Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

12 Little-Known Facts About Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling may have taken longer to transform into a superstar than Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake, his "Mickey Mouse Club" cohorts who established themselves as pop stars in the late '90s. But Gosling became a respected actor in the early 2000s through a series of critically acclaimed and controversial indie films that still rank among some of his best performances

Gosling does more mainstream films these days, but he continues to delight fans with his performances and the self-deprecating humor he has become known for. Although he proved he had what it takes to be a romantic lead as Noah Calhoun in "The Notebook," he has evaded being typecast by taking risks. He's just as comfortable doing comedy and drama as he is doing action, or even performing in a musical such as "La La Land," which garnered the actor his second Oscar nomination. 

Gosling is also known for being extremely private about the family he shares with Eva Mendes and not talking too much about himself during interviews, so we've done a little digging to learn more about everybody's favorite Ken doll. It turns out he does a lot more than "beach" and has exceeded the dreams he had for himself as a little boy growing up in Canada. Keep reading to learn some lesser-known facts about Ryan Gosling.

Ryan Gosling was homeschooled 

Ryan Gosling didn't have an easy time in school and struggled academically. "I didn't feel very smart. They kept passing me in school even though I didn't know how to do things I should have known how to do," he told Entertainment Weekly. "Like, I couldn't read. When you're in class and you can't read and everyone else can, it's pretty frustrating. I couldn't absorb any of the information, so I caused trouble."

Gosling was teased mercilessly at school. After seeing Rambo in "First Blood," he brought the family's steak knives to school and threw them at his classmates. "I was suspended," he told Postmedia News. "And my parents were terrified. They thought, 'We can't let him watch movies that are too violent.'" For better or worse, movies played a huge role in Gosling's life long before he contemplated acting.

Eventually, Gosling was assessed for ADHD, but was never diagnosed. His mom, Donna Gosling, refused to medicate him. Instead, she homeschooled him for a year, which he credits as a turning point in his life. "I had a great teacher, though. My mother was so good at it she became a teacher," he told GQ. During Gosling's acceptance speech for the Kirk Douglas Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, he explained how his mom used his love of film as a reward to get him to read and a punishment to curb his excessive swearing.

The film Dick Tracy inspired Gosling's interest in acting

While Ryan Gosling has loved movies his whole life and spent much of his childhood watching them with his mom, it was Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy" that sparked his interest in acting. "When I was growing up I was obsessed with the detective Dick Tracy. It was one of my favorite movies as a kid and he really inspired me," he told The Independent. "I would have loved to be part of that golden age of Hollywood in the 1940s. It made me want to become an actor."

Before becoming an actor, Gosling began entertaining people in his small town in creative ways. When he was 8, he and his 12-year-old sister, Mandi, put together an act. "My sister and I used to sing at weddings," Gosling told Interview magazine. He then parlayed his work as a wedding singer into performing with his uncle, who was an Elvis impersonator.

Although Gosling was an indie darling early in his career, the movies he rented at Blockbuster with his mom made him fall in love with movies and dream of acting. "That's why I loved movies. It's those films that made me want to do this," he told GQ. "I feel very lucky to have gotten to make the movies that I've made. But it's cool to be in a phase of my life where I'm getting to make the kinds of things that inspired me to make film in general."

Gosling took ballet as a child

As a young boy, Ryan Gosling began taking ballet classes, essentially setting himself up for a life as a triple-threat entertainer who can sing, dance, and act. He saw performing as a ticket out of his small town and a way of avoiding the lives of his father and uncles, who worked at the local paper mill. "I had my hustle. It was whatever I could do to not end up working in a factory," Gosling told The Guardian. "If I had to shake it like a showgirl, I was going to do it."

Gosling's love of dancing didn't end with his childhood ballet classes or his time as a Mouseketeer. "I practice (ballet) whenever I can," he told The Independent in 2011. Although acting, singing, and dancing probably didn't help Gosling's struggles with school bullies, his ballet training came in handy while preparing for his role in "La La Land." Jenna Johnson from "Dancing with the Stars" told People, "He'd had training when he was really young, but I was so shocked at how incredible he was at picking up things and what kind of partner he was." Johnson added, "He was like a sponge."

He lived in a trailer park

Ryan Gosling lived in a trailer park in Florida with his mom and his sister while working on "The Mickey Mouse Club." The other Mouseketeers lived in a nicer development that was too expensive for his family. The trailer Gosling and his family lived in had a gas leak. "My mom and I were tired all the time until we found out there was gas in the trailer," he told Variety. When his mom needed to go back to Canada for work, he moved in with Justin Timberlake and Timberlake's mom, Lynn Harless, who became Gosling's legal guardian for the rest of his time on the variety show.

Comparing himself to his child-prodigy castmates left Gosling confused about his career goals. "I didn't know why I was there. And I think that was the consensus [...] But it was all a great experience in a way because it helped me figure out what I wasn't going to be good at," Gosling told GQ. Despite his doubts, he continued acting when he returned to Canada after "The Mickey Mouse Club" ended. When he moved to Hollywood, he opted to settle in an inexpensive neighborhood. Even after his first Oscar nomination, the actor still lived somewhere affordable rather than in trendy but expensive districts. "I live on Skid Row," Gosling told The Guardian in 2007.

Ryan Gosling lost a role on Gilmore Girls

It's hard to imagine "Gilmore Girls" without Rory's (Alexis Bledel) boyfriends: Dean (Jared Padalecki), Jess (Milo Ventimiglia), and Logan (Matt Czuchry). But in a parallel universe, Ryan Gosling could have landed a role on the series and competed for Rory's heart. At a fan fest for the beloved series, casting director Jami Rudofsky revealed that Gosling initially had an audition for an independent film she was casting. "I rolled my eyes because he was late, and he was blond," Rudofsky shared (per Vulture).

Despite being tardy, Gosling so impressed Rudofsky with his audition for the independent film that she brought him in to try out for "Gilmore Girls." As the story goes, his audition "fell flat" and he blew his chance at landing a role in the popular series. Although Amy Sherman-Palladino and the other "Gilmore Girls" executives failed to see what Rudofsky saw in the young actor, Rudofsky told the audience at the fan fest that "[Gosling was] the one who got away."

Gosling grew up Mormon

Growing up, Ryan Gosling was raised in a very religious home by a very religious mother. "She's different now, but at the time, it was a part of everything," he told The Guardian about their Mormon faith. While on "The Mickey Mouse Club," Gosling told his mom he didn't share her religious fervor. "It didn't really jibe with me," he told Time magazine. "My mother was really respectful of that."

Although Donna Gosling was very devout, she respected her children and didn't force her ideals upon them. "I wasn't really Mormon, my parents were. My mom was really cool," Gosling told Beliefnet. "She said, 'This is an option, but this isn't the only option ... You have to find your own truth.' I never really could identify with it." This difference of opinion never drove a wedge between him and his mother.

Gosling's religious upbringing was a huge part of why he was cast in the controversial but critically lauded indie film, "The Believer," about a Neo-Nazi who is Jewish. "Ryan understood something about religion. Mormonism is very demanding, and it isolates you the way Judaism isolates you. And he got all that," writer-director Henry Bean told Nerve after winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance but failing to land a distribution deal because of the controversial nature of the film.

His role in The Lovely Bones was recast

Ryan Gosling was the first actor cast as the father of a murdered teenager in "The Lovely Bones." He believed he was too young for the role but was persuaded to sign on. "Ryan came to us two or three times and said, 'I'm not the right person for this role. I'm too young,'" Fran Walsh, director Peter Jackson's wife and collaborator, told The Hollywood Reporter. "And we said, 'No, no, no. We can age you up. We can thin your hair.'" She added that they were "very keen" to work with Gosling.

Gosling gained weight for the role and grew a beard. "We didn't talk very much during the preproduction process, which was the problem," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "I just showed up on set, and I had gotten it wrong. Then I was fat and unemployed." Walsh acknowledged while speaking with The Hollywood Reporter that it wasn't until they had the cast together that they realized it wasn't going to work.

Mark Wahlberg, who simply knocked it out of the park, replaced Gosling. The latter admitted that the decision to recast the role was mutual. "It wasn't dramatic, it just became clear that it would be better with someone else," Gosling told The Guardian. "I feel like it's a better movie with Mark Wahlberg in it ... it's okay to be too young for a role."

Ryan Gosling co-founded a quirky band

After being recast in "The Lovely Bones," Ryan Gosling took three years off from acting. During this time, he and Zach Shields, who met while dating Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen respectively, started "Dead Man's Bones" together. Although everyone assumed their impromptu performances — inspired by a trip to Las Vegas — were a joke, their act grew into a concept for a stage play before they realized a play would be far too expensive.

"We didn't know how to play instruments, so we took a year to learn to play instruments and then we made the record," Gosling told Postmedia News. "So suddenly, we were a band." They recorded their album with LA's Silverlake Conservatory Children's Choir. "We were never going to sing on the record," Shields told Rolling Stone. "But when we were working out the parts for them, we started singing and decided to make it into a duo between us and the kids."

The band couldn't take the children's choir on the road for their North American tour, so the duo teamed up with local children's choirs during their tour stops. They also put together local talent shows in the cities they visited. Gosling has said they want to do a second album, but that was a long time ago and one hasn't materialized yet. Despite co-founding a band and recording an album, Gosling didn't land on the music charts until 2023's "I'm Just Ken" blew everyone away.

He has a love-hate relationship with Disneyland

While talking with Conan O'Brien, Ryan Gosling admitted, "I have a real love-hate thing going on with Disney," and shared a hilarious urban legend about an army of cats who rid Disneyland of mice after the park closes each night. Gosling thought this cruel and hypocritical, because the Magic Kingdom was "built upon the back of one mouse." Disney being so diabolical, he claimed, was one reason he hated the company. While this could have been a comedic bit he put together with O'Brien or one of Gosling's attempts to deflect questions about himself during an interview, he has addressed his conflicted feelings about Disneyland on other occasions.

"I have a love-hate relationship with Disneyland," Gosling told The Independent, adding, "The attention to detail there never gets old. There's always something new to find, something they've thought of. And there is always the idea of somebody who had a dream and made it so real you can walk around in it." Gosling might have mixed feelings about Disneyland, but he will never forget that he got his start with Disney and essentially grew up in a theme park. "I still go to Disneyland," he told Postmedia News. "It's one of my favorite places in the world." Which sounds an awful lot like love to us.

Gosling has done philanthropic work

Like many celebrities, Ryan Gosling gives back by doing philanthropic work. When asked about the sincerity of this philanthropic trend amongst actors, he told The Guardian, "As embarrassing as that is, it's great. Celebrities' intentions, like a lot of people's, aren't pure. But they're doing something." On behalf of PETA, Gosling wrote to McDonald's about their inhumane chicken slaughtering practices in the United States.

Gosling also paired with Invisible Children to help raise millions of dollars and shine a light on the plight of child soldiers in Uganda. He was inspired to write a screenplay about these child soldiers but hasn't secured funding. "A movie with children and violence that's true is very difficult to get made," he told Entertainment Weekly. Now that Gosling has launched a production company and signed a first-look deal, maybe he has the clout to tell this story.

While visiting the Congo, Gosling made a video, "Raise Hope for Congo" with the Enough Project. After his visit, he co-authored an op-ed for The Huffington Post, shining a light on how mines in the region fuel violence among groups vying for control of those natural resources, killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions. Gosling's work in Africa shifted his perspective. "They looked at me like I was somebody who could really do something," he said during a panel at the Campus Progress National Conference (per The Washington Post).

He prepares for roles in unique ways

Ryan Gosling really dives deep into research while preparing for his roles. To prepare for "The Notebook," he apprenticed with a woodworker in South Carolina and made some of the furniture featured in the film. He also shadowed a history teacher in Brooklyn to prepare for his role in "Half Nelson," which garnered the actor his first Oscar nomination.

He briefly lived with Michele Williams and the child who played their daughter in "Blue Valentine" to prepare for the second half of the film. Gosling lived in Thailand and trained in Muay Thai to prepare for "Only God Forgives," although as he told GQ, "I don't think I did Muay Thai once in that film." To prepare for "Crazy Stupid Love," he learned bartending skills. For "The Ides of March," he immersed himself in American politics. "The research was so interesting," Gosling told The Independent. "I learned a lot."

Because of his rigorous preparation for his performances, Gosling admitted that Ken in "Barbie" was the hardest role he had ever taken on because he had no clue how to prepare for it. "How do you approach playing a 70-year-old crotchless doll? There's no research you can do for that," he told W magazine. "There's no one you can shadow, no documentaries you can watch, no books written about Ken. You're on your own."

Ryan Gosling is totally a feminist

There have been hints all along that Ryan Gosling is a feminist. The way he talks about his mother, sister, and wife, Eva Mendes, makes it clear that He genuinely likes and respects women. As a boy, Gosling was keenly aware of the predatory attention his mom received from men, giving him insight into women's lived experience under patriarchy. "I've always liked women more," He told The Standard in 2016. "I was brought up by my mother and older sister. I found my way into dance class. My home life now is mostly women. They are better than us. They make me better." Gosling hinted that he was hoping for a woman in the White House when he told The Standard that it needed "a woman's touch."

Since stepping into the role of Ken in Greta Gerwig's "Barbie," it has become more apparent that Gosling walks the walk and talks the talk of being a feminist. He embraced his Kenergy because he wanted to work with talented women. Gerwig wrote the script with Gosling in mind and Margot Robbie knew no one else should play Beach Ken. "I don't know if a lot of big male movie stars would do a film with a female director where their character isn't the title of the film," Robbie told Variety. "We both sensed he's not that kind of guy." Gosling was proud to champion the film's message and the women responsible for bringing it to life, burnishing his feminist credentials.