At first when Ryan Gosling said that he’s a weird-looking guy, we brushed it off as his usual self-deprecating nature. But then we really thought about it, especially considering that all of his early roles were some sort of villain or undesirable antihero. It came out of an interview he did with YourTango:
I’m not that good looking. I think I’m a pretty weird-looking guy. Every role I got up until The Notebook was the weirdo, freak, psychopath, nerd, outsider character guy. Maybe things have changed a little bit.
My sister will always say that she “called” Ryan Gosling—that she knew he’d be a star from the moment she saw him on Young Hercules. Though he did start out as the young half-god, the first movies for which he became known had him playing a manipulative psychopath (Murder by Numbers), an Orthodox-Jew-turned-neo-Nazi (The Believer), and a disturbed young man who kills a mentally retarded boy (The United States of Leland).
His self-assessment, then, makes a ton of sense; casting directors all seemed compelled to put him in roles where he’s frustrated with the constraints of the world and lashes out against them in violent ways. And yet, even in his darkest roles, he still exerts enough charisma that we want to find out what went on to turn him so bad. It was an incredibly savvy career move: His first buzz was about his performances, and then he had the option to get cast for other movies based on his good looks.
Because a year after Leland, along came The Notebook, where he played that same melancholy, though with a lot less depth. That’s not to say all of his leading-man roles have been as shallow; he was fantastic as a commitment-phobe playboy in Crazy, Stupid, Love, and of course as the young lover who transforms into a fat, unfulfilled loser in Blue Valentine.
Obviously the star (and “hey girl” meme inspiration) has grown into his sexiness, but he’s got the kind of good looks where it’s perfectly reasonable to think that underneath that pretty face he may not be entirely sane. Like Christian Bale in American Psycho.