Ryan Gosling on why female friendships can still beat a bromanceThe paragon of cool buddies up with Russell Crowe in new film The Nice Guys. But, he says, honesty is everything and female friendship can still beat a bromance
At 35, and with some of the most respected film titles of the past decade under his belt, Ryan Gosling has come a long way since his first big break on The Mickey Mouse Club. The Canadian, who now has 2 million Twitter followers— and an onscreen partnership with Russell Crowe in the new comedy thriller The Nice Guys —has also learned a lot about real-life friendship: It takes honesty, empathy and a desire to mix business with pleasure.
THE RED BULLETIN: In The Nice Guys, you become best friends with Russell Crowe. What matters to you in a real friendship?
RYAN GOSLING: The level of honesty. Though that can only go so far, because sometimes it can get nasty.
How do you mean?
Like when you tell the other person things that they don’t want to hear, because you have their best interest at heart. You can risk the friendship at times like those. But that’s what friendship’s all about.
So you’re always brutally honest with your friends?
I’ll admit it’s not easy. It’s even hard to always be totally honest with yourself. But if you don’t manage to live that honesty the whole time, you still manage it at individual moments. That’s what it comes down to.
Your characters in The Nice Guys are pretty honest with each other …
That’s because there are guys involved, which means it’s also about competition. I don’t like that at all. It can ruin a friendship.
So, do you prefer female friendships?
I have a lot of female friends.
Is that something you consciously seek out?
It may be because I grew up with my mother and my sister, without a father. My agent, my manager and my publicist are all women. I need them around me all the time.
Is combining friendship and work complicated?
Not at all. I’ve made some of my best friends through work. There’s something about rolling up your sleeves and tackling a challenge together. For instance, as a child I was in charge of the lighting at my uncle’s shows. He was an Elvis impersonator. My other uncles worked as his bodyguards and my aunts were his backing singers. It was only then that I really got to know my relatives. It was a great experience. It’s one I aim to repeat in the jobs I take on now.
Which friends have had the biggest influence on you?
If you want to include family, then that would be my sister. I’ve always looked up to her.
Why her especially?
Because she can understand every point of view when there are differences of opinion. Even when someone adopts a position that I view as untenable, she’s capable of seeing the whole thing from their point of view, too. That’s really affected the way I think.
Who’s your most significant male friend?
One of my best friends is John Prendergast, a human rights activist and former director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. He’s a moral yardstick for me.
What is it about him that most inspires you?
He sticks to his guns when it comes to following his convictions. I work with him on the Enough Project, the aim of which is to stop genocide and crimes against humanity, particularly in Africa. As part of the project I’ve already been to Uganda, Congo and refugee camps on the border between Darfur and Chad. I’ve seen what John and his people are bringing to bear. It’s where you learn what real friendship is about.
Any example come to mind?
I visited rehabilitation centers for child soldiers. There were boys there sharing bunks, one of whom had killed the other’s mother. John and his team have made them realize that they are both victims of circumstance. They ended up being children who not only bore no grudge, but they actually became best friends. That feels totally outlandish to us as Westerners. If we were in that kind of situation it would be all about revenge.