He's played a Jewish neo-Nazi, a crack-addict schoolteacher and a man who falls in love with an inflatable doll.
But suggest to Ryan Gosling , an independent-film poster child for the better part of a decade, that he chooses roles for their complexity rather than their commercial appeal and he'll wave you aside.
"When I make these movies, I don't think, 'I want to make a little indie movie and I want to stay in the indie world because I think it's cool,' " says the Canadian actor. "I make these movies and think, 'This is the one. This one is going to be "The Blair Witch Project." 'I'm sure of it while we're making it. And then it comes out and it does no business."
It's not clear yet if the 30-year-old's latest film, "Blue Valentine," which opened Wednesday in limited release, will become a Burkittsville-level phenomenon. The actor spent an on-and-off-period of four years shaping the character and discussing the role, one that he got so carried away with that in one scene he spontaneously climbed a fence along New York's Manhattan Bridge and teetered 200 feet above the East River. (A producer came running from the other end of the span to stop the scene, but he finished it anyway.)
Written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, the harrowing romantic drama stars Gosling as the working-class, functional alcoholic Dean. Through a series of cleverly interwoven flashbacks and flash-forwards, Dean is seen falling in and out of love with wife Cindy (Michelle Williams), with whom he is raising a child.
Compared to some of the exotic characters the actor has played, the Dean role feels ordinary, even pedestrian. Yet Gosling says this part is closest to his heart — precisely, he says, because it's the stuff of everyday life.
"I feel like 'Blue Valentine' is the biggest dog on my porch because it's the most universal experience: What happens when love goes away," Gosling says. "It's the ripple effect of that lost love, the shadow it casts."
'Green Room' gets green light
Comedian Paul Provenza got lucky a second time. Showtime has ordered up a second course on his "The Green Room with Paul Provenza," which stirred up the laughs last season.
It treats viewers to comics without a script, as they match wits with each other in a studio "green room." This season Provenza will be hosting Ray Romano, Judd Apatow, Kathy Griffin, and more. Taping starts in January.
Another year older
Today's birthdays: Actor Joseph Bologna , 76... actor Russ Tamblyn , 76... folk singer Noel Paul Stookey , 73... singer-musician Michael Nesmith , 68 ... singer Davy Jones , 65 ... singer Patti Smith , 64 ... country singer Suzy Bogguss , 54 ... "Today" show co-host Matt Lauer , 53 ... actress-comedian Tracey Ullman , 51 ... radio-TV commentator Sean Hannity , 49.