This month, actors Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling take a step away from the more serious roles they are known for, to bring us the dark comedy ‘The Nice Guys’, from director Shane Black.
The film tells the story of a debt collector (Crowe) and an unlicensed private detective (Gosling) who find themselves teaming up together to solve a case that has come to both of them via different routes. ‘The Nice Guys’ premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last month, and Movies Plus magazine was on hand to catch up with the stars to find out more about them working together, whether they were allowed to ad-lib lines in Shane Black’s great script, and whether they would consider teaming up again for a sequel.
You have played very competent and assured characters in the past, was playing a less competent character part of the appeal for you? Ryan Gosling: It’s a great script, it’s a great role; they’re great characters. It wasn’t just having fun subverting that idea; it was more fun getting to work on a Shane Black film. I grew up on them, so actually being in them was surreal and felt oddly comfortable. They are great flawed characters, and there is a great dramatic undertone to it, which I think is rare in comedies.
Shane Black’s scripts are so strong; were you allowed much ad-libbing? Russell Crowe: The great thing about Shane as a director is… RG: He’s never there; he’s in his trailer so you can kind of get away with anything! RC: …Although it took him many years to write the script he’s not precious about it, so what’s on the page is a map, but it’s not necessarily the map of everything that he wants, and he has the ability – and not everybody does – to just trust in the fact that we understand the spirit of what he intended. If he says “Action” and buggerlugs [gestures to Ryan Gosling] takes a left step I’ll follow him [laughs], and Shane is willing and enthusiastic about letting us explore something a little bit.
How did you go about creating these two characters? RG: It’s Shane’s writing. It’s the script. It’s there. He’s been doing this for a long time and he’s mastered it. He’s a genre unto his own. Those characters there on the page, they came to life. It’s like a joy to read it; it’s so much fun. He allowed us to contribute to it, obviously, but that dynamic was really there.
The chemistry between the two of you in the film is great. What was it like for you to work together on this movie? RC: Ryan has an explanation about the chemistry that I think you should hear. RG: The Alexa has a new feature, it’s a chemistry feature and they just do it in post. They lay it over in post and it feels real doesn’t it? RC: We had absolutely no connection whatsoever. RG: Russell did all his work from New Zealand, he went to the WETA company – they do all the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films – and they just dropped him in. RC: A lot of the time I was literally on a phone, phoning it in. Then Shane just gets it in post and goes “We’ll have some more chemistry”. RG: No, it’s Shane’s film. Shane writes incredible characters.
How do you prepare for a role? Do you use the Stanislavsky Method? RC: I use the Russell Crowe method. I have never been to the drama school, man. I have never been to drama school. The only time I did any formal lessons, I studied classical texts for about three weeks, but I have been acting since I was about 6 years old, and over time you get more and more efficient about getting to the centre of the character that you’re portraying. I don’t even know what the Stanislavsky Method may be. I have no f***ing idea, and I don’t care to know! [laughs] Seriously, it’s not that complicated; if you want to be an actor, work it out yourself. I actually like the old Olivier quote; “learn your dialogue and don’t bump into the furniture”.
Even though the ending of he film is very open, would you be open to making a sequel? RG: How much are we talking about here?! RC: I’m really busy man, sorry! Sorry Ryan, I just can’t do it. RG: Oh really? That’s fine ‘cos I think I could do it on my own. I basically did anyway.
What was it like to work with Matt Bomer, who plays John Boy, the bad guy of the movie? RC: Matt is an extremely disciplined man, and focused in his preparation. As much as we joke around that there wasn’t very much for me and Ryan to prep, if you are going to step into this kind of movie and be the bad guy, you have to embody threat. One of the ways that he embodies that threat is his efficiency; his physical efficiency with the weapons. That doesn’t happen, you have to work on that, so we were really gratified when we realised just how much work Matt had done, and how that was translating to the screen.
How did you work on the father daughter relationship with Angourie Rice? RG: It became more like mother son, honestly. That’s how we worked on it, we just thought “Ah it’s not going to work, let’s just switch it”. I was so impressed with Angourie, first of all, that dynamic between those two characters is tricky and I really didn’t know how that was going to work. Then Angourie came in and by the nature of who she is and how she is, it answered all of those questions for me. I was really impressed just at how she knows exactly where her character is coming from, what she would and wouldn’t do. She has very very strong opinions about things, and they are always right. She came to the table like she had been at it… I think a strong case could be made that she is 35 years old and she has been just working in theatre in Australia all that time. It felt like that, she was immediately a pro and she’s obviously very gifted, and it was fun for us to get to work on something so early for her, because it’s clear that she’s going to be the boss of us all one day.