AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - With a drop of a microphone, Ryan Gosling dispelled his Internet infamy, saying he had never once uttered the phrase, "Hey Girl," which has made him a viral phenomenon.
"I understand if you're in a movie and you say something like 'I'll be back,' you own that. But I never said it," Gosling said while giggling with Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro at a panel conversation to a full house on Friday.
Gosling was the anticipated opening day guest at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival covering film, music and technology in Austin, Texas, being quizzed by Del Toro not on his Internet fame, rather his directorial debut, "Lost River."
But Del Toro threw in cheeky references to the infatuation with Gosling that has made him an online celebrity, such as his love for Disneyland, where he has been photographed on dates, riding rollercoasters.
On the Internet, photos of Gosling are captioned with quirky, romantic phrases beginning with "Hey Girl," one of the earliest memes to emerge in the social networking age.
Gosling, 34, responded by blushing and hiding his face in embarrassment, and when Del Toro teased him for finally saying "Hey Girl" while telling a story about never having said the phrase, Gosling dropped the mic, joking he was done.
"Lost River," out in theaters in April, sees Gosling, known for films such as "The Notebook" and "Crazy Stupid Love," step behind the camera for a script he penned - a surreal, dark fairytale set in Detroit, inspired by his childhood imaginations of America while growing up in Canada.
Much of the conversation was about the actor's process in writing and directing, and he candidly discussed working with a 4-year-old actor who did not like the camera.
"When he saw the camera, he went the other way, so we had to approach him like nature photographers," Gosling said.
"You do more acting as a director than you do as an actor, because you act confident," he quipped. "When everything's going south, you're always acting like it's not a problem."
Gosling is one of many filmmakers taking the stage to discuss movie-making over the course of SXSW's nine-day film segment, now in its 20th year. Other notable names include "Selma" director Ava DuVernay and filmmaker Mark Duplass, who began his career in Texas.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker