Ryan Gosling (left),
(center) and Grant
Heslov on the set
arts & entertainment
Men who stare at votes
Ides of March stars discuss its success
By Nancy Mills
The Costco Connection: When did you two meet?
Grant Heslov: In 1982. We were in an acting class
and did a scene together from [Neil Simon’s]
Brighton Beach Memoirs. It was the summer after
my freshman year of college, and he was like my first
buddy when we were both nobodies.
CC: Do you feel like you’re standing in his shadow?
GH: I don’t get tired of being linked with George. It’s
a real partnership, not a dictatorship. We’re the same
whether we’re working or not. If I ever felt like I wasn’t
able to do the things I wanted to, I wouldn’t stay.
CC: You’re married with two daughters.
He’s a bachelor. What do you
have in common?
GH: Our touchstones are sim-
ilar in terms of politics and
The Ides of March is available
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growing up during Watergate and Iran-Contra. We
listened to the same kind of music and watched the
same movies. We’re both attracted to making stories
grounded in reality.
CC: How do you collaborate on scripts?
GH: I write every other word. (Laughs.) Sometimes
I’ll go over to his house and play basketball, and
there might be a 10-minute conversation about
something we’re working on. Mostly we sit in a
room and pace around. Sometimes we’ll be pulling
our hair out. One of us will throw out an idea, and
the other will say, “No, it doesn’t work.” It’s not like
a yes-fest. It’s very job-like.
CC: How would you describe ;e Ides of March?
GH: It’s a morality tale. It’s less about politics and
more about betrayal. But who’s betraying whom?
Hopefully it’s not too straightfor ward. We wanted to
mess with Ryan Gosling’s character, so we kept
ratcheting up, ratcheting up. We were interested in
telling a story about a guy who gets the stuffing
beaten out of him, and he has to regroup.
CC: Why is George’s presidential candidate
character a Democrat?
GH: It was the only way we could do the film if
it was coming from us. To make him this great
Republican candidate and make him the one that’s
compromised would have said something that we
weren’t trying to say. This isn’t about bashing Republicans or Democrats. It’s about the compromises
that are made in the name of trying to get elected.
CC: George’s father, Nick Clooney, ran for
Congress in 2004 but was defeated. How much
of this story is based on his experiences?
GH: The film is based on a play, Farragut North,
although we’ve changed it quite a bit. George’s
father is a really good guy, smart and politically
in line with the way I feel. Through George’s
eyes I saw that he did get compromised and
bloodied. That certainly had an influence on
the way we approached this movie. Cg
Nancy Mills is a Los Angeles–based journalist
who writes about film and TV for a variety
A DECADE ago, Ryan Gosling
was an ex-Mouseketeer with
acting aspirations. Today, he has
become one of Hollywood’s most
respected young leading men,
taking on characters as disparate
as the construction worker who
swept Rachel McAdams off her
feet in The Notebook, the lonely
man behind the wheel in Drive,
the teacher with a drug habit in
Half Nelson or the shy guy in
love with a blow-up doll in Lars
and the Real Girl.
In The Ides of March, Gosling
plays an idealistic political operative who is thrust into intrigue
and the machinery of politics surrounding his boss, a presidential
candidate (George Clooney).
“My character has good inten-
tions, but he realizes he can’t cre-
ate change unless he gets into the
White House,” Gosling tells The
Connection. “Is it ambition that’s
driving him or is it a real desire
for change? They’re both true.
The situation is complicated.”
Gosling thrives on complica-
tions. He just finished two crime
dramas—The Place Beyond the
Pines, with Bradley Cooper and
Eva Mendes, and Gangster Squad,
with Sean Penn and Emma Stone.
And he is due to start shooting
Only God Forgives and a remake
of Logan’s Run, both to be
directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.
“For me, it’s mostly about
filmmakers and less about the
material,” Gosling says. “I used
to dream about all kinds of film-
makers. It’s like I’ve been dating
them for 10 years, and now I
want to get married.”—NM