Hollywood: Ryan Gosling plays a reluctant spy in 'The Gray Man' out now in the UAE

The actor talks about his first full-blown action film which also boasts a stellar ensemble cast.


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Published: Mon 18 Jul 2022, 8:05 AM

Last updated: Mon 18 Jul 2022, 8:09 AM

The desire to play something as compelling as the action heroes he loved lingered till Ryan Gosling was offered the role of Court Gentry aka CIA mercenary spy Sierra Six in Netflix’s The Gray Man, the Hollywood star said.

“I really liked Six’s spirit. He never gives up. He’s constantly fighting. Even if he gets thrown out of a plane without a parachute, he still thinks there might be a way out and it’s admirable and fun to play,” Gosling said.

“Growing up, I loved characters like that because they helped me face my own obstacles in my life. I thought if these characters can do it, maybe I can do so. I really enjoyed playing him,” the La La Land star added.

The Gray Man is directed by Avengers: Endgame duo Joe and Anthony Russo and is an adaptation of Mark Greaney’s 2009 book series of the same name.

It revolves around Sierra Six who accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets and becomes a primary target of his former colleague Lloyd Hansen and other international assassins.

Gosling said he has been an avid viewer of action movies all his life. However, he was searching for a character with a unique story.

“I grew up watching action movies and I always wanted to make an action film. I feel very excited to finally get to do it. But there have been a lot of great ones, and I’ve been looking for the one where I felt the character was unique in some way.”

‘He’s forced to do this job’

The idea of this reluctant spy who would rather sit at home and watch Netflix intrigued him the most, he said.

“He is somebody who has no romantic ideas of being James Bond. He’d rather be at home watching Netflix like the rest of us. He’s forced to do this job. They pull him out of jail, and his choices are to either die in prison or die as a spy. And so really, his only way to live a little is to change his job, even though there’s a death sentence on it,” Gosling said.

Most cast members essay the role of assassins in the movie and a part of their preparation involved rigorous training in various forms of martial arts. The experience, Gosling said, was overwhelming as he had never worked on a full-blown action film before.

“I was not prepared for what this film was going to entail. But that’s what made it exciting. All of us were sort of overwhelmed by the amount of action in this movie. I, more than anyone, because I’ve never made a full blown action film. But the Russos have been doing this for decades. They too were like, there’s twice as many action set pieces that this film has as compared to the other films that they’ve made,” he said.

The first part of his training involved learning different styles of martial arts and figuring out what worked best for him as well as the character. To better understand the world of a spy, he worked closely with Craig ‘Chili’ Palmer, a former member of the special operations force of the United States Army.

“Palmer was about as close to the real Gray Man as you can get. He was there for every scene. He not only told me about the technical aspects, but also the mindset — where I would stand, what I would say, what I wouldn’t say. His experience gave the character a specificity that makes it more interesting,” Gosling added.

Complex characters

Known for playing emotionally complex characters in films such as The Place Beyond the Pines, Drive, Blue Valentine and Blade Runner 2049, the Oscar-nominated star said Six’s strong sense of humour is what separates this character from the others.

“I feel like I’ve played more internal and stolen characters than this before like Blade Runner and Drive… those characters were much more remote. What I liked about this character is that he has such a strong sense of humour. And this humour is a way for him to cope with the difficulties of his life. It’s a sort of ‘laugh to keep from crying’ kind of approach.”

The Gray Man features Evans as antagonist Lloyd Hansen. Working with the Captain America star was “fun”, said Gosling.

The project was announced in July 2020, and shooting a globetrotting action spectacle amid the coronavirus pandemic was a “crazy” experience.

“The Russo brothers came to me with this script in the middle of the pandemic when film sets and theatres were shutting down. They called me and asked me if I wanted to go on this globetrotting blockbuster. I didn’t see how that was possible, but somehow they made it happen and I felt very lucky to be along for the ride,” Gosling said.

The Gray Man is out now in the UAE and premieres on Netflix Friday, July 22.

Page is all the rage

Regé-Jean Page (pictured at the premiere of The Gray Man in Los Angeles) plays an evil CIA chief who hires maniacal hitman Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) to kill Sierra Six (Gosling). Bridgerton’s breakout star discussed the thrill of playing a bad guy Denny Carmichael, a CIA chief hellbent on apprehending Gosling’s dejected spy. “I try to take all the things I like about myself — everything that you got from those self-esteem classes as a kid — put it in a box, tie up a bow and just hide it,” Page said. “It’s a delight. Hopefully you plug into the relish that the audience will have going there with you.”

Evans turns hitman

Captain America star Chris Evans (sporting a ’70s-style mustache) is maniacal hitman Lloyd Hansen in The Gray Man, out to kill Sierra Six (Gosling). In an interview to Shondaland.com, Evans spoke about playing Hansen with humour. “Well, when you’re playing a bad guy, they don’t think they’re bad. When you’re playing a funny guy, they probably don’t think they’re funny. You know, what it is is you play the truth of the situation. I think most actors would agree that that’s usually what works — whether it’s comedy, whether it’s drama, whether it’s action — your goal is to try and make a real person. And the result, if that’s what the script called for, if he’s supposed to be funny, he’ll be funny without the effort of trying to be funny.”

Dhanush in action mode

Popular Indian actor Dhanush plays Avik San, an assassin, in The Gray Man. In an interview with The Quint as quoted by The Indian Express, Ryan Gosling revealed that a fight sequence between him and Dhanush was the most reshot sequence in the film. “We are very excited to have Dhanush in the film. He is incredible. He is a great actor and has such an amazing presence on screen. He is so precise, he never made a mistake. We shot this fight sequence and we reshot it multiple times. It underwent so many different incarnations. Dhanush never made a mistake, and it seemed inhuman. He is so funny and charming. The biggest difficulty was pretending to be enemies, because I just liked him so much,” he said.

‘Gray’ days for de Armas

In The Gray Man, No Time to Die star Ana de Armas plays CIA agent Dani Miranda who, at the beginning, is “very by-the-book, and that’s the mission, and it’s a big deal for her and her career and her reputation,” de Armas was quoted as saying in an indiewire.com report, adding that she connected with a real CIA agent to discuss the chain of command as research for the role. Dani is on Sierra Six’s side and the two spend most of the film evading Hansen (Evans) through an endless action-filled chase and intense fight scenes.

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