‘We have no connection whatsoever’: Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe on The Nice Guys

Actors may seem an unlikely pairing, but they gel both offscreen and onscreen in this neo-noir action comedy buddy film

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 June, 2016, 10:23am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 June, 2016, 10:23am

Ryan Gosling is a nice guy who just can’t win.

That’s where his inept private eye, Holland March, in The Nice Guys stands, anyway. Gosling stars in the 1970s-era buddy action comedy with Russell Crowe, who plays a tough debt collector named Jackson Healy. Together, the two fumble their way through Los Angeles on the hunt for a woman connected to the death of a famous porn star (all while failing to impress March’s trailing young daughter, played by Angourie Rice, who dubs him “the world’s worst detective”).

The Nice Guys appealed to Gosling, 35, because it reminds him of the slapstick comedies he grew up on. “My parents were too cheap to buy a Blockbuster membership,” he quips, “so they just took us to the library where the movies were free and all the library had were Bible movies and Abbott and Costello movies, so I watched all of those.”

In the film, Gosling’s March, a bumbling single father more lucky than skilled, forms an unholy alliance with Healy, a decidedly more grizzled competitor – who, coincidentally, has just cracked a few of his own bones over a client.

“To me it had to be Russell,” says Gosling of his co-star. “That’s how I read it, and that’s how I kind of fell in love with it, because the idea of him in that role was so funny.”

Though an unlikely pairing – Crowe, 52, is best known for serious dramas, while Gosling has dramedies like The Big Short and Crazy, Stupid, Love under his belt, the two prove to be grin-inducing onscreen.

Meanwhile, a more public bromance has bloomed on the campaign trail. “We have no connection whatsoever,” Crowe deadpans, describing their chemistry at a press conference in Cannes.

“He doesn’t even read books,“ muses Gosling. “He just stares them down until they give him the information he wants.”

Director Shane Black (Iron Man 3, Lethal Weapon) says he purposefully cast two actors with Odd Couple-style chemistry.

“They’re not just high fiveing bros,” says Black, reminiscing about Hollywood stars like Sean Connery. “They’re men.”

Men with ideas. When they began filming, Gosling says he wanted to push the comic boundaries of The Nice Guys, but “I was scared the first day because I didn’t know if Russell would be OK with that level of broadness, you know?” he says.

So on the first day of the shoot, Gosling snuck on set early to try upping the ante on a scene in which his character, trapped in the bathroom, attempts to threaten Healy. “I’m sitting on this toilet with my pants around my ankles, I got a magazine [in my hands], I have cigarette, a gun, I’m trying to make this [bathroom stall] door pop back and forth. And suddenly I smell smoke. I look and there’s Russell quietly smoking watching me,” says Gosling.

“It was intense, and then he said, ‘I think if you hit the door with your right foot it will make [the door] bounce further.’ And we immediately started having the most serious conversation about the stupidest thing ever,“ says Gosling. ”And I knew it was going to be fun.”