In the marital drama BLUE VALENTINE, RYAN GOSLING and MICHELLE WILLIAMS bring an astoundingly authentic feel to their characters as they fall in and out of love.

Their on screen chemistry is so raw that — even though their sex scenes aren’t that explicit — the MPAA initially put an NC-17 rating on the film. It recently downgraded that to an R on appeal.

RYAN, who was born in London, Ontario, said that he and MICHELLE studied pictures of real people to help build their characters’ bond, but they didn’t overthink their physical intimacy going in to filming.

“The physical stuff, it just happened. It just was something that happened. I don’t really know how,” he explained in an interview at September’s TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, where BLUE VALENTINE screened to much acclaim.

“It’s a love story, you know…and physical intimacy is a part of that and we were trying to capture that in a way that was not gratuitous or trying too hard to be sexy or something.”

“We collected a lot of photographs, actually, photographs that we thought were snapshots of people’s lives, of couples that were together that weren’t staged, that were just private photographs of people that were trying to get that kind of an intimacy.”

RYAN and MICHELLE recently landed GOLDEN GLOBE nominations and many are also predicting OSCAR nods for their riveting portrayals in the film.

RYAN plays Dean, the sweet, sensitive and unambitious house painter husband to Cindy (MICHELLE), a stressed out nurse who needs more in life than what she’s getting. FAITH WLADYKA is their young daughter Frankie.

Through flashbacks and flashforwards, we see the characters in two stages: during a charming courtship and then several years later when they’re frustrated, fighting parents.

“What I like about the film is that it leaves it open. There’s no way of really knowing what went wrong in this case and in a lot of cases,” RYAN asserted.

Writer/director DEREK CIANFRANCE spent twelve years working on the film, which was inspired by his longing to understand how time can change relationships.

“I feel like it was always the film that I was born to make,” remarked Mr. Cianfrance, who lives in Brooklyn.

“My first inspiration for the film was when I was a kid and I had two nightmares: one was nuclear war and the other was that my parents would get a divorce. When I was 20 they split up and so I was confused and bewildered and I was trying to find something to relate to in art.”

DEREK CIANFRANCE had many actors read the script over the years. When MICHELLE WILLIAMS saw it in 2003, she was so moved by its content that she sent him a CD and a book of poetry.

RYAN GOSLING came on board in 2005 after he’d finished filming HALF NELSON, for which he was nominated for a BEST ACTOR OSCAR.

Mr. Cianfrance said the two stars were almost like cowriters on the film.

“They had so much to do, so much to say in it. I would spend nine hours eating dinner with Ryan and be so inspired that I’d go home and rewrite the script based on what we had talked about…and the same thing with Michelle.”

Before cameras started rolling, the director didn’t hold rehearsals so that when the characters were first meeting, the actors were as well.

He also made RYAN find a love song for a sweet scene in which Dean plays music for Cindy. MICHELLE didn’t know what the song was before cameras started rolling so her on screen reaction was genuine.

“Once we started shooting those scenes where they are together, I felt like I was making a documentary of these two people falling in love because it was Ryan as Dean, getting to know Michelle as Cindy,” stated Mr. Cianfrance.

“Those moments are moments you can’t necessarily reproduce. They’re moments that happen one time.”

Later, to portray Cindy and Dean as they started to fall out of love, the director and the stars all moved into the house in which the characters lived for a month before they started shooting.

Mr. Cianfrance gave the actors a video camera to make their own home movies and develop memories there. He even had them live like their characters, doing chores and buying groceries with the exact budget Cindy and Dean would’ve had based on their income levels.

“It was just Michelle and I baking birthday cakes and having birthdays and Christmas and wrapping presents and cleaning the house and fighting, just living in this house with our daughter Faith,” said RYAN.

“Michelle would go home at night but we spent a lot of our days there and I thought it was really smart of him (Derek Cianfrance) to do that because even though you don’t see it in the film — they’re not scenes in the movie — I think you can feel it.”

Creating those warm memories was also a hindrance, though, as the stars found themselves struggling to fight on camera when their characters started to fall out of love.

As the director put it, “shooting the past was so beautiful” that none of them wanted to make the second part of the film.

“We were like, ‘Maybe we could just call this movie Valentine. Let’s not shoot Blue.’ But we knew we had to do it. It was hard.”

For them to get over that hurdle, Mr. Cianfrance had the two burn a wedding picture depicting Cindy and Dean.

But even that was difficult as “the picture wouldn’t melt,” said the director.

“Their faces wouldn’t melt…where their lips were kissing wouldn’t melt and the frame melted into a black shaped heart around their mouths.”

BLUE VALENTINE opens in Toronto on Friday.


  1. “It’s a love story, you know…and physical intimacy is a part of that and we were trying to capture that in a way that was not gratuitous or trying too hard to be sexy or something.”

    cool, ms. m. you may remember me not giving a damn and wishing other approaches were used aside from the so often fall back of trying to be ultra sexy.

    so this sounds like an ok move to me. well i’ll never be in sync with anything accepted. probably not.

    He also made RYAN find a love song for a sweet scene in which Dean plays music for Cindy. MICHELLE didn’t know what the song was before cameras started rolling so her on screen reaction was genuine.


  2. Sexy is a slippery damn slope, glimster.

    Not only that, but everybody has completely different ideas about what’s sexy.

    Unless, of course, you’re a sleazeball degenerate with a big f’ing mouth. In that case, I imagine there will be lots of retarded things that will amuse you.

    No big deal. There are real men possessed of decency and sensitivity. And then there’s trash that’s beyond redemption.

    I’m just glad that I have someone wonderful that worships the ground I walk on. Being faithful and honouring a commitment to a gentleman like that isn’t difficult.

    My head’s not turned that easily. Believe me.


    That moment where RYAN plays music for MICHELLE is in the trailer. They keep showing it before BLACK SWAN.

    It gets to me every time. That scene, as I understand it, takes place at the beginning of their courtship when they’re first falling in love. It’s overwhelmingly joyous and beautiful. But there’s a powerful undercurrent of melancholy running through it.

    He sings and plays haltingly in front of a shop on the street. She’s so adorable. She starts tap dancing in response to his serenade.

    I know I’m going to be a wreck at the end when I walk out of that theatre. But I am so stoked to see this.

    I’m literally counting the days until its hotly anticipated arrival…

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