Is Ryan Gosling Hollywood’s Last True Leading Man?


Put down that notebook, grab your tap-dancing shoes, and saddle up because we’re about to break down why one of Hollywood’s most prominent leading men is more than Kenough.

In his thirty years as an actor, Ryan Gosling has amassed a total of 107 award nominations and 40 wins. No small feat, considering he’s been known to take multiple years-long breaks in his line of work.

Having cemented a career with roles ranging from comedy to thriller to action, Gosling is not one to limit himself. As Roger Ebert said, Ryan “proves he’s one of the finest actors in contemporary movies.”

Starting at a young age, Gosling managed to sidestep the drama that has plagued many notable child stars in Hollywood’s history.

The actor likely saw the downfall of fellow industry peers and prioritized his mental health to avoid such pitfalls.

Whatever the case, Ryan has also made a name for himself by maintaining a long-lasting and private life with his wife and children. Another feat that deserves just as much praise, considering how high of a profile the actor has come to achieve.

It’s hard to believe that a seemingly sweet and innocent boy from Canada would become one of the world’s biggest actors.

The Young Man (1993-2003)

As many people might know, Gosling got his foot in the industry door at 12, having secured a 2-year contract on the revival of The Mickey Mouse Club.

Allegedly, the actor’s appearance on the show was infrequent because he was not considered as talented as his fellow Mouseketeers. To be fair, he was working with Timberlake, Spears, and Aguilera, who would each reach unprecedented fame and success only a few years later.

The young Gosling continued to add television credits to his resume from popular kid shows like Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? If you go back and rewatch these shows, you’ll likely notice many faces that became household names, such as Hayden Christensen of Ahsoka.

At 18, the actor took on the role of Hercules in the short live spinoff prequel of the much longer aired Kevin Sorbo series. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Gosling’s series only received one season, as the show felt much longer.

Although, anything that requires more than five minutes of attention seems like a long time to a kid.

His role as the teenage demigod would be the actor’s last in a live-action television series where he wasn’t a guest star. Beyond two voice acting credits, Gosling’s only other television ventures are his very memorable performances on Saturday Night Live.

In 2000, he began his journey into film, which led to a career of acclaimed roles that showcased the actor’s notable talent.

Through his charming and comedic supporting role in Remember the Titans, Gosling landed the part of a Jewish neo-Nazi in the film The Believer.

Though a Box Office bomb due to its controversial nature, the Los Angeles Times called Ryan’s performance “electrifying and terrifyingly convincing.”

In his career, the actor has been compared to Matt Dillon, George Clooney, and Marlon Brando. It’s like the saying goes, “Work until your idols become your rivals.”

However, he was still not known at this time beyond being a familiar face. Still, as he continued to hone his acting chops, Gosling would take on parts working alongside Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, and Don Cheadle of Secret Invasion.

The Leading Man (2004-Present)

2004 would be one of the most significant years for the young actor. At a time when so many novels and book series were being adapted for the screen, there was a sleeper hit among these that no one saw coming.

It was also the audience’s first experience of Gosling’s potential as a leading man.

The Notebook, a film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’s novel of the same name, catapulted Gosling’s career. The film itself received mixed reactions from critics but was beloved by audiences.

For years and years after its release, the movie was a pop culture mainstay that influenced the romance genre well after the stars had gone on to other projects.

One thing that came to light not long after the movie was released was the revelation that Gosling and his coaster, Rachel McAdams, couldn’t stand to be around each other during the filming.

This tidbit of information only fueled the fire as the actors went on to have a real-life romance. Talk about life imitating art imitating life.

The story continues to live on through its musical play adaptation, but don’t get your hopes up about Gosling reprising his role as Noah Calhoun. The actor is known for always moving to more challenging projects and, other than Blade Runner 2049, does not appear in sequels.

Gosling would go on for a couple more years and star in a few critically acclaimed movies like 2006’s Half Nelson, starring alongside Anthony Mackie of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

In 2007, he worked with Anthony Hopkins on Fracture as well as Lars and the Real Girl with Patricia Clarkson of Sharp Objects.

While all three films earned great reviews, it was at this point in the actor’s career that he would take his first break from the entertainment industry. It’s never a bad idea to end something on a high note and leave people wanting more.

After a three-year sabbatical, Gosling returned recharged and ready to get back to his craft.

With his first film back, Blue Valentine, alongside Michelle Williams of Dawson’s Creek, he reestablished himself as a powerhouse of talent, with the San Francisco Chronicle saying, “he brings a pretty natural understanding of people to his performance.”

However, he really made it into the hearts and especially minds of viewers when he starred with Emma Stone and Steve Carell of The Office in Crazy, Stupid, Love.

If there’s one thing that no one soon forgot after seeing the film, it’s that Ryan Gosling was a bonafide Hollywood hunk. As Emma Stone’s character from the film most notably said of Gosling, “Seriously? It’s like you’re Photoshopped!”

And we completely agree. How those abs have not won an award of their own is a mystery.

This was another point in Ryan Gosling’s career where everyone was paying attention. It was hard not to notice the work he put into the part, not just what he accomplished in the gym but the chemistry he shared with Stone.

Not to mention how his character chewed up every scene he was in. Plus, for a short period, he made it socially acceptable to say “schwans.”

From there, he made even more of a name for himself as a leading man in films like Drive, La La Land, and Blade Runner 2049.

He would continue to garner her awards and accolades as a force to be reckoned with.

And in 2023, when he starred in a particular movie that would become a billion-dollar box office blockbuster, Ryan Gosling once again proved that he is cinema gold. Or, as Vulture said, “came close to stealing the movie.”

Barbie became a culturally relevant checkpoint in cinematic history as the highest-grossing film directed by a woman. Gosling even received an Oscar nod for his role and performed “I’m Just Ken” at the Academy Awards.

Currently starring in The Fall Guy with Emily Blunt, the movie is a testament to how the actor is loved by critics and audiences alike.

The Family Man (2011-Present)

The role that Gosling cherishes the most is the one that many people never get to see. The actor has been married to his The Place Beyond the Pines costar, Eva Mendes, with whom he shares two young daughters for almost thirteen years.

Apart from that, not much is known as Gosling famously keeps his personal life under wraps. The few times the public was made privy to his and Mendes’s relationship, it is evident that the couple shares a loving and committed life.

Having been in the industry for over three decades, the actor likely has seen the scrutiny that his fellow industry peers have come under when they let the rest of the world into their daily lives.

In that regard, the actor is as intelligent as he is talented.

Gosling is currently at the height of his career, but if his past actions and choices are to be considered, the actor could take another one of his sabbaticals and come back stronger than ever. Or he might take up hippology because, horses, am I right?

If nothing else, let’s at least hope he never stops breaking character on Saturday Night Live.

Which of Ryan Gosling’s numerous roles was your favorite? How many times have you rewatched his famous Beavis and Butthead sketch with Mikey Day?

Drop a comment below and let us know!

Joshua Pleming is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow him on X.

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