- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CANNES, France (AP) — The Cannes Film Festival is missing one of its biggest stars of this year’s event: Ryan Gosling.

The 32-year-old Canadian actor was unable to attend the premiere Wednesday of director Nicolas Winding Refn’s film “Only God Forgives.” Mr. Gosling stars in the Bangkok noir about a boxing club owner pressured by his mother to his avenge his brother’s murder.

At a press conference Wednesday, Cannes director Thierry Fremaux read a letter from Mr. Gosling apologizing for his absence. The actor is currently in Detroit shooting his directorial debut, “How to Catch a Monster.”

“Can’t believe I’m not In Cannes,” Gosling wrote. “I was hoping to come but I’m on week three shooting my film in Detroit. Miss you all. Nicolas, my friend, we really are the same persons in different dimensions. I’m sending you good vibrations.”

His absence is a blow to the festival, which depends on top stars such as Mr. Gosling to walk its red carpet and draw the world’s media attention to the annual French Riviera extravaganza.

Mr. Fremaux said he was sad that Mr. Gosling couldn’t make it.

“He is not with us physically, but as he stated, his thoughts are with us,” Mr. Fremaux said.

“Only God Forgives” was screened for the media early Wednesday at Cannes, where it drew mixed reviews for its extreme violence and nightmarish Greek tragedy. Mr. Refn, who also directed Mr. Gosling in 2011’s “Drive,” said he understood Mr. Gosling’s needing to stay with his production.

“I would never even do it if I was in his situation,” Mr. Refn said. “One thing is being an actor. When you’re directing, it’s another arena.

“But I speak to him every day on the phone. In a way, he is here.”