Ryan Gosling’s 10 Most Iconic Roles, Ranked

Though Ryan Gosling is only 38 years old, he has already cemented himself as one of the world’s finest actors.

Starting out his career on The Mickey Mouse Club in the ’90s, Gosling was immersed in the world of entertainment from a young age. Not long after that, he took on more roles in family shows and films including Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps.

The early 2000s saw Gosling make a shift into indie films, and eventually, he broke out in a little 2004 film called The Notebook — but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Since then, Gosling has taken on leading roles in all sorts of genres from romcoms to musicals to dramas, and even sci-fi adventures.

Though Gosling is yet to become an Academy Award winner, he’s already received a handful of nominations. While we’ll have to wait a little longer for him to walk away with one of those shiny gold trophies, we thought we’d cruise through some of the actor’s most iconic roles to date.

10 La La Land

Ryan Gosling plays a struggling jazz musician in this classy 2016 romance. Being that the film is a musical, he also got to show off his dance skills, vocal range, and piano playing. Talk about a triple-threat.

The on-screen chemistry Gosling shared with his co-star Emma Stone was electric, and the twist ending left theater-goers with all the feels.

Gosling was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his stellar work in La La Land.

9 Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Before Gosling was dancing alongside Stone in La La Land, the couple was falling hard for each other in Crazy, Stupid, Love. This romcom also starred Steve Carell and Julianne Moore, who played a couple in a failing marriage.

When Carell’s character wants to get back out into the dating game, Gosling offers to help him. The problem? This player-of-a-guy is dating Carell’s daughter (Emma Stone).

Though arguably one of Gosling’s lesser-known movies, the actor also appeared with Stone in Gangster Squad a couple of years later.


8 The Notebook

Gosling made the world swoon when he played Noah in the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook. The sleeper hit told the story of a young man (Gosling) and young woman (Rachel McAdams) who fall for each other in the ’40s. Unfortunately, their love is forbidden by the girl’s parents and the pair becomes separated, only to encounter each other years later after she is engaged to someone else.

Though we can’t expect to see Gosling reprise his leading role on stage, it has been announced that The Notebook is being turned into a Broadway production.

7 Half Nelson

Though not as commercially popular as the aforementioned films, Half Nelson is one of Ryan Goslings’ most critically-acclaimed roles. In the 2006 drama, he plays an inner-city junior high teacher who is befriended by one of his students after she learns he abuses drugs.

To get ready for this role, Gosling actually moved to a tiny Brooklyn apartment and shadowed an eighth-grade teacher for a full month. His dedication and natural onscreen sincerity earned him a Best Actor nomination at the Academy Awards.

6 Drive

This 2011 action drama film has Gosling playing a Hollywood stunt driver who doubles as a getaway driver. The stakes get crazy high after he teams up with his neighbor, who was just released from prison, to embark on a million-dollar heist.

Though the graphic violence was criticized, no one had anything but praises to throw at Gosling’s edgy performance. He happened to sweep up several nominations for Best Actor.

5 The Ideas Of March

The Ideas of March is a 2011 political drama film, directed by George Clooney. It is a film adaption of the play Farragut North, which is loosely based on the election campaign of Governor Howard Dean in 2004.

While Clooney played the role of Mike Morris, the fictional Governor of Pennsylvania and Democratic presidential candidate, Ryan Gosling took on the role of his junior campaign manager.

The film received overall positive reviews, while Gosling received multiple Best Actor nominations.

4 The Big Short

Gosling once again joined Steve Carell onscreen in 2015. This time, the pair was joined by Christian Bale and Brad Pitt to tackle the financial crisis of 2007–2008.

The Big Short was notable for featuring multiple cameos, unconventionally explaining financial instruments, and breaking the fourth wall. Gosling’s character did this the most as one of the film’s lead salesman.

Although Gosling didn’t receive a Best Actor nomination, the highly-praised film wouldn’t have been the same without him.

3 Blade Runner 2049

The sequel to the 1982 neo-noir sci-fi film known as Blade Runner had Ryan Gosling starring alongside Harrison Ford. Gosling plays a Nexus-9 replicant “blade runner” named K who comes across top-secret information that will threaten society.

Blade Runner 2049 received positive reviews, and Gosling received a slew of award nominations for his acting in it. Though nothing has been confirmed, a third Blade Runner film is in consideration, as is the idea that Gosling would make another appearance.

2 The Nice Guys

Set in 1977 Los Angeles, this crime comedy film starred Ryan Gosling as a private eye and Russell Crowe as an enforcer. The two team together to figure out the disappearance of a teen girl.

Despite lacking a strong performance at the box office, The Nice Guys received high praise, with many citing the chemistry between Gosling and Crowe as one of the highlights. Though a sequel is unlikely, due to the $62 million the film brought in compared to the $50 it took to make, the director of the film, Shane Black, expressed interest in a follow-up title.

1 Blue Valentine

Lastly, we can’t talk about Ryan Gosling without mentioning the small but acclaimed role he held in the romantic drama Blue Valentine. Gosling and Michelle Williams played a married couple that navigated the various ups and downs of their relationship together.

Though the film’s budget was small, with its box office performance also coming out modest, the lead actors’ performances were praised. They communicated the heaviness of their failing marriage with the type of authenticity that only comes around every once in a while.

The film ended up on many critics’ Top 10 lists the year it was released, and of course, Gosling’s sincerity was once again noted.

Next10 Jim Carrey Movies That Need Sequels

About The Author

Brooke Bajgrowicz (370 Articles Published)

Brooke is a Screen Rant staff writer obsessed with music and movies. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Florida in 2018, she moved to New York City to take on the world of entertainment.

In this corner of the internet, she loves to ramble about Disney, female-centric stories, Hollywood history, and iconic sitcoms.

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