Ryan Gosling Reveals How His ‘Gangster Squad’ Character Was Inspired by Bugs Bunny (Q&A)

Gosling as a Gangster
Gosling gets to rob banks in 'Gangster Squad.'
Ryan Gosling has successfully found a wide range of interesting roles to play since he broke through to Hollywood’s A-list in the last few years. Not content to be the one-dimensional heartthrob or action hero, he’s taken increasingly unique parts in films such as Drive, Blue Valentine and Ides of March to create a body of work that highlights his talent and versatility.

But in his new film Gangster Squad, Gosling not only tackles an entirely different challenge, but found inspiration for his role as a self-serving cop from wholly unexpected sources.

“I always kind of admired how Bugs Bunny was not above dressing like a lady in order to get out of trouble,” Gosling revealed.

Celebuzz joined other members of the press to talk with Gosling and his co-stars Josh Brolin and Emma Stone about Gangster Squad in December.

Celebuzz: This film offers a lot of challenges. Which scenes were toughest to shoot?

Ryan Gosling: It was challenging for me when I realized that I was not going to get a Tommy gun. I thought for sure I would have one, and instead I got a little tiny lady gun (laughs). Josh, hide the Tommy gun from me. How about you, Josh?

Josh Brolin: I think the fight with Sean [Penn] was the most difficult because Sean didn’t rehearse as much as I did. So his fists were flying wildly during the fight, hoping that they got something that was usable. It was a tough fight that we rehearsed for many, many, many weeks. And I love the way that it turned out. But I think both of us, mainly the current and ex-smokers that we are, was the most challenging on an oxygen level.

CB: Did any punches connect?

JB: Absolutely.

CB: Ryan and Emma, this is your second movie together. What do each of you like most about working with the other?

RG: Well, Emma owes me money. And the only way I can try and get that back is by doing movies with her. She still owes me that money.

Emma Stone: How much money?

RG: How much money you owe me? I’m glad were finally talking about it (laughs). Do you like working with me?

ES: No.

RG: I think it was hard for us to be serious. We made this comedy together, and so we were a couple of knuckleheads and then we thought, oh, this will be fun to work together again. And then we had to try and be serious; I was trying to pretend like I was Humphrey Bogart or something, and that kind of made it difficult. Did you find that hard?

ES: I found that hard — I mean, but I really liked it. I want to work with you a lot, if you’ll have me.

CB: Since this is sort of a mix between non-fiction and fanciful creation, how did each of you approach or see your characters?

ES: Well, mine wasn’t based on a real person, which was a nice jumping off point, pressure-wise. But I guess what we had talked about was the fact that she had come up to Los Angeles to be famous and she ended up on the arm of someone who is really notorious — which is kind of like what reality show people sometimes are like today. They’re just kind of famous — she’s just kind of famous by association. And I thought that was interesting, and something pretty heartbreaking is going on underneath the surface. And I didn’t get a lot of time with the guys as much, so each scene was trying to focus on bringing as much of that to the surface as I possibly could.

JB: How do I see him? I think he has a lot of integrity. I like the fact that it’s this kind of old idea of somebody who has the honor of not following the manual of what they say law is back then. I think law was a lot less paranoid than it is now and I think the boundaries of law were a lot more malleable then than they are now. And guys thought outside the box. So the good guy was not necessarily the good guy. You know he had to think dirty in order to snuff out these guys who are trying to create Los Angeles into the Wild West into a cesspool. And after he got back from World War II, I think he was shocked at how much Los Angeles had changed, and instead of being narcissistic and selfish, I think he thought about the future of his kids and all kind of stuff that we think about now. Whether we we’re truly that kind of country or not, I think they were much more so back then.

RG: I always kind of admired how Bugs Bunny was not above dressing like a lady in order to get out of trouble. And I thought that could be interesting, whether this person trying to avoid and make themselves inconspicuous sort of in someway that was in my head. But I also was trying to relate that as well to this idea that this is a real person and I think it’s important to know that the man himself was a much braver, more admirable character than the version of him that I play in the film. But I think for dramatic purposes it was necessary to have a conflict, and trying to have to be affected personally by the death of this shoeshine kid and then to be provoked into joining the squad. So it was like trying to balance that — what felt best for the film and also trying to honor the man himself. So I did find it difficult.

CB: Did you find a lot of material on the actual guy?

RG: Yeah, there’s that sort of stuff, but we got a chance to meet some family members and his kids came to the set told me a lot of great stories, a lot of great details. Apparently, when he ashed, his cigarette he would ash in a cuff of his pants and at the end of the day he would dump out his cuffs — dump all the ashes.

CB: Ryan, something in your voice sounded almost like you were trying to do an early talkie thing — just like a higher octave, or something.

RG: That was more of a wardrobe issue (laughs).

CB: So then it is a period thing, like when period clothes actually create the performance.

RG: Yes, and they were, the wool was quite itchy. So I had a rash and I channeled that irritation in to my hatred for the gangsters.

Watch the theatrical trailer for Gangster Squad, and then let us know — how excited are you to see Gosling and company in period costume when the movie opens?

Celebuzz Single Player No Autoplay (CORE)
No changes are to be made to this player