- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

Ryan Gosling’s latest role in director Gregory Hoblit’s courtroom thriller “Fracture” probably won’t be the one for which he is best remembered, but it reveals yet another facet of the young actor’s prodigious talent.

So far in his career, the Canadian-born star has skillfully given on-screen life to a host of complicated and often troubled individuals, including a Jewish Nazi (“The Believer”), a love-drunk carpenter (“The Notebook”) and a drug-addicted teacher (“Half Nelson”).

In “Fracture,” he’s Willy Beachum, a self-absorbed assistant district attorney who gets tangled in a cat-and-mouse game with Ted Crawford (Sir Anthony Hopkins). The film shows Mr. Gosling subtly flexing his comedic muscles and substituting delicate facial emotions with big, playful gestures that add color to his egotistical character.

“It was a totally different role for me,” the 26-year-old says during a press junket in New York City.

Though “Fracture” is in many ways more straightforward and perhaps box-office-receipt-minded than the darker films of his past, he says he was intrigued by how the film toyed with the thriller genre.

“Usually the character is a good guy and is very inherently virtuous,” he says. “The thing I liked about this is that he’s only a good guy by default, because the other guy is so bad. He’s pretty narcissistic and self-serving and he’s fine with that.”

Mr. Gosling employs his best smirks and full-body responses in the picture in one poignant scene smoothing his tie in such a way that he appears to be caressing himself. “He just struck me as a guy who was so in love with himself,” he says.

Known for his careful pre-production research, the actor spent time in court with trial lawyers to prepare for playing Willy, but he explains that, ultimately, his inspiration came from someplace else. “I based him on some agents I’d met the kind where you don’t know if he’s faking his accent.”

“Fracture” is Mr. Gosling’s first cinematic appearance since the 79th Academy Awards in February, where he was up for the best-actor award for his work in “Half Nelson.” Although he lost to Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”), one imagines he feels more pressure to perform and choose “the right roles” now that the world and the Academy is watching.

“No,” he says. “I feel pressure myself to make the right decisions. There are always lots of reasons to do movies, and you know in your gut the movies that you’re supposed to be making.”

When he was a youngster looking for a break, that meant auditioning for “The All New Mickey Mouse Club,” which landed him on camera with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and the rest of the soon-to-be-famous cast.

As an angsty teen and twentysomething, it meant seeking out disturbed or distressed characters like “Half Nelson’s” haunting Dan Dunne.

Mr. Gosling doesn’t let on whether his current mood will yield more turns in lighter films such as “Fracture,” but he does mention that he’s excited about his upcoming appearance in director Craig Gillespie’s “Lars and the Real Girl.” Imdb.com explains its plot as: “A delusional young guy strikes up an unconventional relationship with a doll he finds on the Internet.”

“It’s really funny; it’s really sad; it’s really romantic,” Mr. Gosling says.

In addition to his striking onscreen abilities, the performer remains mindful of the musical talents he once cultivated with his fellow Mouseketeers. He’s an accomplished jazz guitarist and singer and says he’s “working on something” but “will talk about it later.”

He’s also reluctant to set the record straight about his relationship with “Notebook” co-star and fellow Canadian Rachel McAdams, with whom he has either broken up or whom he is about to wed, depending on which tabloid you’re reading.

Mr. Gosling doesn’t need to talk much; his on-screen portrayals speak volumes not only about him, but about just how far he’s likely to go in his career.

Ryan Gosling (top and above left) stars with Anthony Hopkins (above right) in the drama “Fracture.”

Ryan Gosling (top and above left) stars with Anthony Hopkins (above right) in the drama “Fracture.”

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