Its premise might seem a little dubious, but after it unspooled at the Toronto Film Festival this week, Lars and the Real Girl (opening Oct. 12) quickly started winning people over. The Notebook’s Ryan Gosling — recently nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his work in Half Nelson — plays a shrinking wallflower of a guy, living in his brother’s garage, who one day starts introducing people to his new girlfriend, Bianca. And it just so happens that Bianca is a life-sized plastic doll that he ordered off the Internet.
Even Gosling concedes that you might have your doubts about such a plotline. He did too, until he read the script, which quickly (and sweetly) up-ends expectations. The actor, in fact, compares it to Harvey, the wonderful 1950 comedy starring James Stewart as a man whose constant sidekick is an invisible, six-foot-three-and-a-half-inch rabbit. Maybe you can Netflix it as soon you’re done reading this interview, which EW.com conducted with Gosling in Toronto earlier this week.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Lars and the Real Girl was a lot different than I expected. You hear the plot and you think it could be a Farrelly Brothers gross-out movie, or an edgy, dark, Sundance kind of movie. But it’s really a fairy tale.
RYAN GOSLING: Yeah, it’s a storybook, it’s a kid’s book, like The Velveteen Rabbit. I think, like everybody else, I hear about it and I go, Well, conceptually, it sounds like a funny idea, it’s a funny concept, but it can’t hold up for a whole film. But, reading the script, I’d never seen a movie like this. And now the only other thing I can compare it to is Harvey.
Really? Harvey’s one of my favorite movies.
Me too! I love that movie so much. There’s nothing like it.
I always thought Jimmy Stewart gave his best performance in that one. Very underrated.
Absolutely. Because he’s acting for him and for Harvey. He makes Harvey real to you. And I always thought that movie was so, so special.
Stewart’s character, Elwood P. Dowd, is a lot like Lars.
Yeah, he’s got an imaginary friend. It doesn’t matter [that she’s not real], because she’s real to him. I thought, This is a wacky concept, but not really. It’s true. There’re a lot of guys out there who have these dolls. And that’s a very complicated relationship. They’re not just physical. They have emotional connections and they have lives with them and they go on dates. And they talk to them, they keep them company. And it sounds crazy because they’re adults and you think, You shouldn’t be doing that. But I think we all kind of do that. When you’re a kid and you have a teddy bear, and you love that teddy bear. A friend of mine had a teddy bear and he lost it, and he was really broken-hearted about it.
Just recently he lost his teddy bear, or this was back when he was a kid?
When he was a kid. He put an ad out in the paper, and people in his town had an eye out for it. It’s not that hokey. People are like that. In this town, people rally around Lars and support him. Because they get something out of it too. They want to be part of something special.
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