The actor-slash-director chatted to Guillermo del Toro about Detroit and del Toro's magical rain room
Curiously, SXSW officially kicked off their discussion series with their version of The Odd Couple, pairing visionary filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro with Hollywood’s irresistible anti-hero, Ryan Gosling. As a result, the crowd on hand was split fairly evenly between the tweener obsessed and the nerd herd movie geek collective, both worshipping in equal parts, listening and laughing along with the objects of their affection. Del Toro is an unlikely fan of Gosling’s mythic first film, Lost River, and seeing the two of them together live and in-person had more laughs and interesting facts than you might expect. So, did the talk actually make us want to see Gosling’s new film? Maybe, but really we all left wanting to hear Del Toro say the “F” word just one more time. Here are the highlights:
RYAN GOSLING LOVES DISNEYLAND AND DEL TORO NEEDS TO AirBnB HIS MAGICAL HOME
After joking that he and Ryan “buy at the same Big & Tall store,” Del Toro says he fell for Gosling after talking about their love of esoteric films and misplaced affinity for all that is Disneyland. The two originally met at Bleak House, Del Toro’s incredible home filled with monsters, gothic literature and macabre artifacts.
Gosling describes walking into Bleak House for the first time and being endlessly inspired. “It’s like his house is built on some kind of bedrock of dark magic and anything is possible in this house. There’s even a room where it rains all the time.”
Still surprised by their kinship, Del Toro explained why he agreed to speak to Gosling in the first place. “The main drive for me was for you guys to have a context of the filmmaker and not the meme that says ‘Hey Girl.’
GOSLING’S SINGLE MOM INSPIRED LOST RIVER
After promising that he wouldn’t cry, Gosling talked about his single mother and his active imagination, immediately making the women in the crowd crush on him even harder. “I remember walking with my mother and guys would whistle at her or cars would circle and it’s very predatory and it’s very threatening, especially if you’re a little kid and you feel if something went sideways you couldn’t do anything about it. So, you start to imagine all these versions in which you could. It just ignites your imagination.” Showing his sensitive side behind the camera, the women of Lost River pay respect to his mum. We like that.
DETROIT, THE PLACE WHERE FAIRY TALES COME TO LIFE!
After making a girl’s week by saying “bless you” after she sneezed in the audience, Gosling went off about his love of Detroit even though he was raised in the Great White North of Canada. “America is like a bit of a pinup girl you put in your locker. I had all these fantasies about it and Detroit embodied all those things: Motown, the model T, the American dream.”
When Gosling was in Detroit, he talked about how surreal it was seeing “forty miles of abandoned buildings and people burning houses faster than the city could tear them down.” The Motown Projects where Diana Ross and The Supremes grew up isn’t even there now in Detroit and Gosling “wanted to shoot there before they were gone."
“I remember walking with my mother and guys would whistle at her or cars would circle – as a little kid if something went sideways you couldn’t do anything about it. So, you start to imagine all these versions in which you could” – Ryan Gosling
AS A KID, GOSLING WENT SWIMMING IN A MAN-MADE LAKE COVERING A FLOODED TOWN
“It scared the shit out of me. There may have been a roof or a street lamp or a graveyard. Who knows what was underneath me. I didn’t want to take a bath if that’s where the water was coming from.” Having an underwater ghost town as your watering hole would spook any kid, and it’s probably one of the main reasons why Gosling has a dark side underneath that glistening six pack.
Gosling couldn’t stop himself from making a “cheesy metaphor” saying “that memory flooded in” during filming. “I’m going to regret that, I already do.”
GUILLERMO DEL TORO SHOULD BE YOUR OWN PERSONAL LIFE COACH
In some sort of twisted way, the batshit energy and no-holds-barred brilliance of Guillermo Del Toro combined with his playful sense of wickedness might actually make for a great motivational speaker. Sure, he cusses a lot, so his life coach session would definitely be a late night infomercial. But after seeing him during the Q&A when a young Chicano film school graduate asked for advice, it was impossible for the crowd not to roar to life with applause after he told the kid to “go do whatever the fuck you want.”