Photo: Jason Kempin/2011 Getty Images
Ryan Gosling’s latest role (in Crazy, Stupid, Love, which opens on Friday) seems to focus heavily on what’s under his shirt — per the previews, a rock-hard six-pack that we would be happy to let chill in our fridges — but in real life, the former Mouseketeer has turned himself into something of a fashion plate. We’re used to seeing the 30-year-old Gosling on screen as anything from a neo-Nazi to a sex doll’s boyfriend to a lumber mill worker carrying a mushy notebook; not exactly the kind of dudes who shop at Barneys. That’s why it’s so surprising to see his developing off-screen affinity for shiny suits, colorful jackets, and yes, velvet. It’s been an epic journey from his days as Sandra Bullock’s trucker-hat-wearing boy toy; join us as we chart how and when Gosling came out of his sartorial shell.
: A Mickey Mouse Club
promo shot, a.k.a. a historical record of Britney’s pre-pubescent normalcy and Justin’s pre-pubescent feathered hair.
: From this shot, you’d never guess goofy-grinned Gosling (bottom left, next to Brit-Brit) would end up a serious Oscar nominee, and J.T. would be bringing it on down to Omeletteville
. But he looks adorably typical of any 13-year-old in this era – maybe even less colorful than usual, given that his rugby shirt is not even close to being the most ebullient getup in this photo.
Why: A Sundance event for The Believer, which garnered him his first major critical acclaim, and in which he plays an Orthodox Jew turned neo-Nazi. So, a comedy.
What: Sure, Ryan looks like the prototype for some of the costumes in Brokeback Mountain, but, in fairness, back in 2001, many 21-year-old actors spent large periods of time walking around dressed like prototypes for Brokeback Mountain. After all, in a time before gossip blogs, no one knew any better.
Photo: Randall Michelson
Why: The Cannes premiere of Murder By Numbers.
What: Aw. Gosling looks like a little kid at his first grown-up event: The suit is a trifle baggy, the hair is inching toward unkempt mullet-tude (insert joke here about Canadians needing to keep their necks warm — don’t get mad, Canada, we kid because we love), and his pants look suspiciously pleated. But the real crime here is that he let then-girlfriend Sandra Bullock leave the house wearing that dress.
Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT
Why: A pair of Cannes photo calls for Murder By Numbers and United States of Leland.
What: Or, more accurate, “What … the hell?” Generally, photo calls tend toward the casual, but there’s “casual” and then there’s “just off a hayride.” However, Gosling is pulling off an unimaginable feat, especially for that era: He appears to be wearing that trucker hat sincerely. Ashton Kutcher would roll over in his Ironic Hat Graveyard. By 2003, Gosling had relaxed into a cute but clean Regular Dude look; however, wearing his digital camera as a bracelet suggests that he still doesn’t view himself as the star of the show so much as an observer on the sidelines.
Photo: J. Vespa
Why: The premiere of The Notebook, the movie that turned Gosling from a good young actor into the kind of dude whose mere presence makes girls swoon. Basically, Robert Pattinson before there was a Robert Pattinson.
What: This made us wonder if Gosling is some kind of Method dresser: Muddy Converse with a suit are exactly what we imagine his Notebook character would wear if he got dragged to a fancy-pants party in the city where them rich folks drink their fizzy wine.
Photo: Lee Celano
Why: The Movieline Young Hollywood Awards (an event that no longer exists, hosted by a magazine that has since canned its print edition).
What: Ah, young love. And the first appearance of Gosling’s beloved cooler-than-cool leather jacket, which he still pulls out regularly (most recently, at a Blue Valentine event with Michelle Williams) and which also has a Notebook flavor. He and then-girlfriend Rachel McAdams are so cute together that we’re not even going to deploy that Fonzie joke we worked up.
Photo: J. Vespa
Why: Hotel Rwanda premiere.
What: Presumably, a serious movie requires a serious stocking cap. Or maybe Gosling was just hoping his adoring public — most of whom had seen The Notebook about 60 times by now, making it the Titanic of the Aughts — would take one look at him, think he was a mugger, and promptly run the other way?
Photo: Carlo Allegri/2004 Getty Images
Why: MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice Awards.
What: We are sure that George Clooney was very proud of Ryan for turning himself into a walking Darfur PSA at any and all teen-oriented events in 2005 (even if many of those teens probably thought Darfur was one of the house elves in Harry Potter). Good old 2005, when serious news issues only became relevant once they were emblazoned on your nipples.
Photo: Frederick M. Brown/2005 Getty Images
Why: The premiere of Half Nelson, starring Gosling as a drugged-out junior-high school teacher (and not, sadly, as half of eighties hair-band Nelson).
What: The sin here is not even necessarily the fact of the tuxedo tee. It’s that the tuxedo tee question depicts a really ugly tuxedo. It is easier to hear your statement, Ryan, when it is not dwarfed by the sounds of our own screams. Especially when we keep thinking the boutonniere is a gunshot wound.
Photo: Peter Kramer/2006 Getty Images
Why: Gosling was nominated for Best Actor for Half Nelson at a quaint, obscure ceremony called the Academy Awards.
What: McAdams’s expression says, “My date looks super hot. And normal. I won the war!” Gosling’s expression says, “Yawn. I wanted to wear a novelty shirt that made me look like I was an Oscar, but Rachel ‘accidentally’ burned it with her curling iron in the hotel bathtub.”
Photo: Michael Buckner/2006 Getty Images
Why: Toronto and New York premieres of Lars and the Real Girl, in which Gosling pulls off the impossible: playing a dude who dates a blow-up doll without skeeving us out.
What: Listen, if you’re headlining a movie where you romance a doll with actual heartfelt affection, you probably need a little loud fun in your real life. And so begins Gosling’s love affair with unusual suits — here, in plaid. We appreciate the effort, and enjoy that he doesn’t look like every other actor on the red carpet … but he looks like he’s about to offer some co-eds a glass of port during his office hours.
Photo: Malcolm Taylor/2007 Getty Images
Why: The Los Angeles Lars and the Real Girl premiere.
What: By the time the movie premiered on the West Coast, Gosling had abandoned plaid in favor of a Rat Pack vibe, as if he stopped by the party on the way to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. For the most part, this was when we could first tell Gosling’s personal tastes had sailed beyond the occasional fun experiment and docked directly at Port Whimsy.
Photo: Michael Buckner/2007 Getty Images
Why: The SAG Awards, where he was nominated for Lars and the Real Girl.
What: Here, Gosling brought plaid back into the picture, although he’s confined it to his shirt. It’s worth noting that the vest portion of his three-piece suit isn’t part of the suit at all, but rather a sweater vest. It’s therefore really worth noting that Gosling magically can wear a sweater vest without looking like a grandpa. That is advanced science. We caution against trying this at home.
Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/2008 Jeffrey Mayer
Why: The premiere of Sugar (in which Gosling does not star) about a Dominican-born baseball player recruited to play in the U.S.
What: Gosling wasn’t promoting his own project, so maybe that’s why he decided to sober it up here with basic black jeans, a jacket (the smart-casual version of his Rat Pack Prom getup), and an undershirt. We get it. Save the thunder for when you really need it. This is like the boxed wine of outfits: a whiff of trendiness about it, but it’ll do in a pinch.
Why: Photo calls for Blue Valentine and Drive, respectively.
What: Apparently, Gosling’s days of wearing a trucker hat to a Cannes photocall are long gone. With age has come a more carefully constructed form of casualwear that is both strange and charming. Amazingly, it appears inspired simultaneously inspired by both Don and Jay Gatsby, two personalities never before mentioned in the same sentence.
Photo: Michael Buckner/2010 Getty Images
Why: Blue Valentine screenings in both Toronto and at AFI.
What: By this point, Gosling has grown into favoring suits in softer grays rather than black. It works on him: In the lighter gray, he looks unassuming (and handsome), like he just showed up to take grandma to church and a premiere broke out around him; in the latter, he’s rocking the challenge of a double-breasted jacket, which is fashion-forward in the sense that it’s totally retro. We approve.
Photo: Vito Amati/2010 Getty Images
Why: The Blue Valentine premiere, and Critics’ Choice and Golden Globes awards.
What: If Ryan were on Top Chef, this dish would be called “Velvet, Three Ways.” The Ferragamo tux in its full furry glory is a bit more subtle to the naked eye; with the other two, we keep expecting to catch him smoking a pipe, and leaning against a fireplace in his slippers while dangling a brandy snifter. Yet somehow Gosling makes it look easy and natural, like we’re all supposed to live like a hirsute Daddy Warbucks.
Photo: Jason Merritt/2011 Getty Images
Why: Cannes Film Festival.
What: And now we’ve gone from looking Slyly Unusual to looking like the founding member of a Buddy Holly Tribute Band. That being said, we’re not entirely sure this look isn’t Ryan coming full circle back to his days at the Mouse House, as this is also how we imagine maître-d’s and cabaret hosts dress on a Disney Cruise. Except with more rodent-ear accessories.
Photo: Ian Gavan/2011 Getty Images
Why: Los Angeles Drive premiere.
What: This is one sleek, classy navy blue suit…and some very bright red socks (which we think we spied under Ryan’s Cannes suit, too). It’s a chicken-and-egg thing: Was the suit cut that way to show off the socks, or are they his attempt to acknowledge and laugh at the slightly too-short pants? Either way, we give credit for humor — despite the fact that, from the ankles down, he looks like Hugh Hefner with a third-degree sunburn.
Photo: Jason Merritt/2011 Getty Images
Why: New York Crazy Stupid Love premiere.
What: That is one shiny, checked suit. This is a bold choice — perhaps not an entirely successful one, but certainly one befitting an actor who’s slowly evolved into one of the red-carpet’s most interesting regulars, because boring it is not. It’s almost as if this particular look was designed to be so flashy and so all-covering as to make us forget the star of Ryan’s portion of this film is — according to the trailer — his abs. Silly Ryan. No matter how natty your clothes, we never forget a six-pack.
Photo: Jason Kempin/2011 Getty Images