NEW YORK — In his new romantic comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love.," Ryan Gosling plays Jacob, the ultimate ladies' man, who can get women into bed faster than it takes him to flash that winning smile and sparkling baby blues.
In real life, the Canadian actor started out as quite a romantic, entering a local air band contest to win the heart of his childhood crush, Melanie.
"We did a duet and we did `Uptown Girl.' At the end she had to kiss me, and we won. I won a Max Headroom towel and I won that experience of getting to work with her. So it worked out," the 30-year-old Gosling says. "That was probably pretty stupid. I got a lot of heat from it at school. But it was worth it."
In the film, opening July 29, Gosling mentors hapless, recently separated Cal (played by Steve Carell) in the ways of picking up women at bars, giving him a trendy new look, a newfound confidence and ultimately a new lease on life.
Gosling got his start on "The Mickey Mouse Club," singing and dancing with the likes of Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. He went on to earn critical acclaim for films including "Half Nelson" (2006), "Lars and The Real Girl" (2007) and last year's indie darling "Blue Valentine," which garnered him his second Golden Globe nomination.
Despite growing up in showbiz, the actor says he's still not used to being recognized in public. He says Canadian fans are the most vocal when they spot him.
"The other day I was walking down the street and this lady was like, `Ryan, Canada!,'" and gestured to herself. "She was like, `I'm from Canada.' I was like, `Oh, OK. Me too.' It's like if you don't recognize the Canadian in them they're upset. It's like we're Highlanders, you know? We're all just supposed to know when we're in the same vicinity."
Gosling, who recently moved to New York from Los Angeles, says choosing roles is more like a "compulsion" than an art.
"In interviews they always ask you why you did things: Why'd you make that movie? Why'd you do that? I don't really know. And the best way I can describe it is either like dancing – song comes on and you want to dance. You don't know why, you just want to, so you do," he explains. "I just always wanted to make movies. And I don't really know why, I'm just compelled to do it."