Blade Runner 2049: Interview with Star Ryan Gosling

Stepping into Iconic Film

Ryan Gosling: I was a fan of the original and as a fan I was curious as to how they were going to evolve the story and those characters.  It was one of the first films I had seen–I was 12 and it was ten years after it came out.  I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel when it was over and I thought I was just seeing regular science-fiction film but what I saw was something else altogether.  What is as interesting as the film itself is the experience you have after you have seen it.  And part of the reason it became such a cult film is because people couldn’t shake it.  And I wasn’t asking myself at 12 what it meant to be a human being, but the film asks you to ask yourself that question.  And it stays with you and you care about these characters and the world that you created feels nightmarish but possible. And so it haunts you.  So when I heard they were making a sequel, I was curious, because I wanted to know what happened to that world and I wanted to know what happened to those characters.  But the question you have to ask yourself with anything is, whatever the history of something is, is when you are looking at the screenplay, is that is it its own piece and does it have its own story to tell and is that story useful in some way to the audience and it is a valuable, emotional exercise and it is worth everything that we are going to put into this?

I felt immediately when I read the screenplay that Hampton, Ridley and Harrison had decided that this is the way it should go and that they had created the original and it was their choice to decide whether now was the time to tell this story and that this was the story to tell.  And then the opportunity to work with Denis and Roger Deakins and Harrison, it just felt like a wonderful opportunity to be part of something special.

Fight Scenes with Dave Bautista

RG: I think those fights were great, and they went fine. It’s Harrison Ford’s punches you have to look out for.  He’s wonderful in the film.  I loved working with him and I loved working with Sylvia.  I thought she created a very complicated character and she brought something very unique to an already unique role.  Dave is just a wonderful actor and I really hope I get an opportunity to work with him more.

Our Planet

RG: I am not the best person to ask for a projection like that, I don’t know. But I think what is interesting about futurism or science-fiction, is that it provides you an opportunity to inhabit a projected future that is a worst case scenario and to experience that.  When the film is over, you are given the opportunity to ask yourself some questions to your decisions and what you can do to prevent it from becoming that way.

Memories in the Film and in Life

RG: I will save the more personal memories and keep it more in the vein about this film.   I saw the original film when I was a kid and it is part of my memory.  It affected the culture I grew up in and it permeated a lot of areas in my life, and then when I was able to get into the film business. It’s a film that permeated the film business and it inspired so many directors to direct and it inspired so many musicians to make music and actors to act.  And then to become an adult and to be a part of this film, whose themes are about memory and exploring that with Denis is so much a part of our memory, it was a very special and it was like a matryoshka doll of an experience. I think that’s something that both Denis and I connected to. We both grew up like an hour away from one another and both had been affected similarly by this film and now we are making the next installment.  The theme of memory in the film, shared with our collective memories of the film, was very helpful to our process.

Denis as Director

RG: I have to give him 50 bucks a day to say that I was his muse. He will do it if you deliver.  We were great partners.  Everyone I knew that had worked with him told me that that would be the case.  He was very collaborative, but also very clear on his own vision.  So much of this movie existed in his head so what was important to me was to take a deep dive into his dream of what this could be, and to help him in the best way that I knew how, to help him realize his vision.  He is very collaborative.  We did a lot of work together on the character and the script as he did with everyone.  Part of what it means to be collaborative is that you are finding common ground within your own instincts.

Shooting in the Water

RG: It’s the same as shooting with Harrison Ford in the snow or not in water.  He’s the best collaborator you could ask for.  He’s such a great partner and he’s an incredible storyteller.  As an actor to create one character in your career that an audience would want you to revisit, let alone revisit many times, is an achievement.  In Harrison’s case, that has happened so many times for him with so many different characters and it’s almost unprecedented.  He has created these seminal movie experiences for all of us, these cultural touchstones.  We have been traveling in this press junket, country to country, it’s not just one film, it’s his whole body of work that means so much to so many people.  And we all get to experience that and Harrison is the only one that doesn’t get to experience that, because he is too busy making it.  To have the opportunity to work with him and to have a window into what experience was like for him, making all these great films over the years, was a very good experience for me

Visual Effects

RG: In this case it was very special because, I had never done a Science-Fiction film and I had never done a film on this scale and I assumed there would be a fair amount of green screen involved.  But when I first went to Budapest I went to set and I went to visit what is technically in the screenplay a very small set, but not only had they made that set, but when I looked out the window, they had created the street outside the set and then they created the buildings across the street.  And then they created the buildings within the distance, and within every window of these buildings was its own lighting pattern, mirroring a separate, autonomous life and story.  And then it started to snow.  So the level of which Denis was prepared to commit to his vision in that way was not only inspiring, but also as an actor, you are not forced to imagine very much.  The environment has a big part I think on performance.  So I felt that Denis did everything in his power to give us every tool we could have to do the best job that we could do.

Love Scene

RG: Respectfully I would like to not talk about it because it’s a unique scene in the film that I would like for the audience to experience to not be colored by my experience.  There’s a few scenes in the movie that feel very specific conceptually to this film and when I first them, I read them without any information.  And when we shot them, we shot them without any information and when you saw it, you had the same experience.  So I would love to preserve that for the audience if that is possible.


Music on the Set

RG: It was very quiet on set.  Roger Deakins likes it to be quiet and so does Denis.  And I think even Denis, when he edits the film, he edits the film without any music and the music is the last thing that he adds.  So it was a very experience seeing the film because it was very quiet for us.  But yeah, when you see the film, the sound is very much a huge part of it.


Self Discovery

RG: I am not sure, but I think what is so compelling about “Blade Runner” is that it’s so massive in its scale and it’s so conceptually adventurous.  But at the same time, it’s a very intimate and emotional and personal character study.  And I think there’s a lot of themes that I felt that not only I could relate to but that the audience could also relate to and I think that struggle for identity is not something that is unique to me, and that we all share that.  And these questions of what it means to be human, some of the questions of overpopulation, technology isolating us from one another, moral responsibility and science, and yet it’s not a message film.  Those are things that are there to create a texture to the universe of the movie but at the very heart of it, it’s just a very simple emotional stories.  So I connected to that, but had a great respect for the rest of it.

Character with No Soul

RG: I am bordering on a territory that I shouldn’t discuss.  It’s not to be secretive, it’s to create the opportunity for an audience to experience this in as full a way as possible. I had that experience when I read it and we are working to preserve that.  So those kinds of things I think are very integral to the story and something that I shouldn’t comment on too much.

Harrison Ford

RG: Harrison is in a class of his own and it’s been a real wonderful experience to just see not only the body of work that he has created, but also the approach to his work now and I think we all should be so lucky if a little bit of that magic rubs off on us.  If Harrison keeps punching me in the face, I don’t want to see what it’s going to look like in 2049.

Dangerous Times

RG: Obviously we are at a point at science where, the film was right in a lot of ways and that it’s really important that we ask ourselves these moral questions about where and how Science advances.  But what I think is unique and special about this film is that it’s not about robots, and it’s not about cyborgs and it’s not about AI and the interesting thing about what they have created with this concept of the replicant is that there’s no difference biologically between replicants and humans and you don’t rip up the skin and see metal and wires.  The only difference is how they are conceived.  Harrison will say that they are not conceived in the fun way.  (laughter)  But there’s still, because of the way they are conceived and because they are created by humans, this sort of false narrative is created about their worth and it’s created that in order to make human beings feel better about how awful and horrific their life experience is.  And so it asks you a lot of questions about how you feel about that and how that might relate to our society as well.  So for me, as much as it’s Science-Fiction, it’s also very philosophical and special in that way.

Next Movie: First Man

RG: We haven’t started yet.  But it’s a fascinating story and it’s been a really incredible experience so far, just getting to spend time with Neil’s family and his boys and his ex-wife and his childhood friends and going to his childhood town in Wapakoneta, all the people that are involved are so passionate about the story.  I grew up in a world where I was told they put a man on the moon so you can do anything.  And I benefitted from that.  I mean that changed the perspective of a lot of people.  And I am not sure that we say that as much anymore. So it seems exciting to be able to explore that story again and to represent or try and represent in a more intimate way, some of the experiences of the people who made that happen.  In terms of space themes, I am not on a space kick.  It’s story, it’s character, it’s just a compelling story, and is this something that can be entertaining for the audience but also a useful exercise for them in some ways and is it worth their hard earned money to come and see this film and experience this and is this something that might stick with them in some way?  And both of these films met those criteria for me, so I feel very lucky to be working on them.  But also with very ambitious filmmakers, who are trying to make films that you experience in the theater that value the experience or think there is value of the experience of sitting in a room with strangers and having an emotional experience together.  And so I feel very lucky to try and help them do that.