Ryan Gosling: Did His ‘Pines’ Face Tattoo Go ‘Too Far’?

Movie Talk
April 1, 2013

You'd think the last thing a director would want to do when making a Ryan Gosling movie is to mess up Gosling's perfect mug. Especially with a face tattoo.

But Derek Cianfrance had no qualms about giving Gosling such a tat in "The Place Beyond the Pines." And his star was not too pleased.

Luke, played by Gosling, is a stunt motorcyclist at a traveling carnival, a wandering bad boy with a troubled soul and a big heart. He wants to do good by the son he had out of wedlock with Romina (Eva Mendes), a waitress with whom he had a fling whilst passing through Schenectady, NY. He's also got -- according to Gosling himself -- the "most tattoos in movie history."

"Ryan and I had had experience on 'Blue Valentine,'" writer-director Cianfrance said about his close working relationship with the actor in a recent interview with NPR. "And he called me about six months before we started shooting 'Pines' and he said, 'Hey, D, how about the most tattoos in movie history?'"

Luke's extensive ink is genuinely striking in the film, especially when you compare the character to the eccentric nebbish Gosling played in "Lars and the Real Girl." But what's most impressive is the tattoo on his face.

"I was like, OK, you want some tattoos, huh?" said Cianfrance. "And he says, 'Yeah, I want to get a face tattoo. Face tattoos are the coolest. This one's going to be a dagger and it's going to be dripping blood.'"

Gosling didn't feel it was "the coolest" for very long, though, as the star regretted his rather extravagant character choice by lunchtime on the first day of shooting.  Gosling told Moviefone that he felt he crossed a line with the face tattoo. He said, "I felt a lot of shame for having gone too far and for making a decision that was careless that might ultimately affect the movie. I was so ashamed that that shame lived with me on set, as I had to wear that stuff around."

Despite his lead actor's sudden reservations about tattoo, Cianfrance held true to his film's themes and didn't allow for a do-over.

"[Gosling said] 'Do you think we can, you know, take it off and, like, reshoot that stuff? It wasn't that much we shot this morning,'" said Cianfrance. "And I was, like, absolutely not. This movie is about consequence and now you have to live with your choices."  And Gosling agreed that the feeling of regret when he saw how he looked transferred over to his performance. Gosling said, "It was humiliating, and I feel like that was something inherent to the character, and probably something that I couldn’t have acted."

Compared to all of the other bad decisions Luke makes in "The Place Beyond the Pines," getting a face tattoo is pretty mild. But the thought that Gosling perhaps drew inspiration for his character's deep sense of regret and existential dread from the bloody dagger on his face is rather amusing.

See Ryan Gosling in the trailer for 'The Place Beyond the Pines':

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