Feel The Love

Producer/star Steve Carell and man-of-the-moment Ryan Gosling speak about their smart new romantic comedy, 'Crazy, Stupid, Love'.

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Crazy, Stupid, Love is a romantic comedy about soul mates and second chances. It centres on forty-something Cal (Steve Carell), who, on the brink of divorce, gets a makeover and a new lease on life from young lothario, Jacob (Ryan Gosling). Jacob steps in to (begrudgingly) help this sad stranger when Cal's moaning begins to ruin his time with the ladies at their local bar. One of the few girls to resist Jacob's charms is Hannah (Emma Stone), a law student stuck in a boring relationship.

It was the smart script which first made Gosling's toes tap, but the major draw to the dance floor was the chance to work with Steve Carell, not just as a co-star, but also as producer. "I thought that producing was the next logical step for me, and it was fun," explains Carell. "This is our first movie for the production company [Carousel Productions], and I liked having a hand in hiring directors and great, great actors. When I met with Ryan, I just felt lucky that he would be intrigued enough to want to jump in on this. It was rewarding in that context."

Gosling (who has moved effortlessly between commercial hits like The Notebook and acclaimed indies including Half Nelson and Blue Valentine) first met Steve Carell years ago when they worked on a pilot for a TV show called The Unbelievables. "We had no scenes together, but Steve was so funny that one time the boom guy dropped the boom to laugh during a take," Gosling smiles at the memory. "I was on set just to watch Steve. He and Tim Curry were doing a scene where they were villains and they're trying to get Superman to do a book signing, so they can finally get him... Steve was just so funny." Carell shakes his head and looks at Gosling in amazement. "I can't believe that you remembered that," he laughs.

Of course, Carell is a master of improvisation, and the funniest moments in Crazy, Stupid, Love were adlibbed, including many scenes that he shares with Gosling. "Ryan is a great improviser," says Carell. "He improvises within character and on story, on point. In a lot of movies, people just improvise to try to say something that they hope will be in the film. It's different when someone can improvise from their character's point of view, and within a scene. That's so much fun. My battle was to not laugh because he was always surprising."

Gosling looks over Carell. "You taught me about ‘set-funny,'" he says. "When you do things that are funny on set, but they're not really funny in the context of the movie. You told me that it's easy to fall into this trap of being ‘set-funny.' That was really good advice."

Joining Gosling, Carell and Stone in the cast of Crazy, Stupid, Love is an impressive list of names, including Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon. Carell says that the script attracted the cast, as well as his choice of directors. "When John Requa and Glenn Ficarra [I Love You Phillip Morris] came on board, they set a tone as to what the movie was going to be and what we wanted to achieve with it," he offers. "I liked the fact that they were able to multitask. For example, after a take, one of the directors might have given the actors notes, while the other might have given the camera or lighting crew notes. It was nice to have two sets of eyes on everything, and two interpretations that were both coming from the same perspective. It broadened my horizons as an actor."

"It's less stressful too," adds Gosling. "That's what we needed in order to feel that we could put ourselves out there. In these bar scenes, it's supposed to be night, and we're supposed to be drunk, but it's 8:00am, there's no music, we're yelling, pretending like there's music, and everyone expects us to be funny. It was pretty scary sometimes."

Another frightening prospect for Gosling was the pressure of a certain shirtless scene. "I re-read the script, and there's a line where Emma's character says to me, ‘You look Photoshopped.' I was like, ‘Wait a second...oh, no!' I trained with the same guy who worked with Chris Hemsworth for Thor. I thought that I was doing well until he showed me a picture of Chris, and I was the size of his arm. I was in this competition in my head with Chris. But as you build muscles, you start to realise how ridiculous they are. They're just kind of goofy. You get them from doing a lot of one thing, lifting a heavy thing in a certain way. You don't really feel stronger. You just develop these bumps on your body," Gosling laughs.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is released on September 29.

This is an excerpt from a story that ran in our October issue. For more from Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and also Emma Stone, pick up the mag on sale now.  

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