NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ryan Gosling claims that after his last film, the moody "Blue Valentine," it took him several months to "acclimate out of the experience" and he paid a visit to the doctor.
"He wrote me a prescription and I looked at it and it said, 'Do a comedy'," the 30-year-old Canadian actor said, adding the story he has been repeating to reporters while promoting his new comedy, "Stupid, Crazy, Love," is absolutely true.
It's hard to tell at times when Gosling is joking, telling such stories while wearing a perpetual, evasive smirk. Yet he is transparently playing for laughs in his first comedic role opposite "The Office" star Steve Carell that has gained strong buzz ahead of its release in the United States on Friday.
The reason for the turnabout for an actor who has so far mostly stayed away from big-budget Hollywood movies after impressing critics with serious indie dramas, was Carell, he said.
"He makes everyone funny. So selfishly I knew that if I was going to ever do a comedy, if I was going to lose my comedic virginity, I wanted to lose it to Steve," a softly-spoken Gosling told Reuters in an interview.
"Crazy, Stupid, Love" shows off Gosling as a suave seducer of women who tries to help the despondent, shabby character played by Carell regain his machismo after separating from his wife, played by Julianne Moore. Also co-starring Emma Stone and Marisa Tomei, the romantic comedy is a big box office summer hope for studio Warner Bros.
Gosling described himself as "nervous" to act in what he sees as his first real comedy, spending much of the film dropping unsubtle lines to women in bars, dressing in designer clothes and even ripping off his shirt to reveal a body so appealing it leaves Stone exclaiming it must have been digitally enhanced.
"It's like a James Cameron program called Avatar and you wear a motion-controlled suit," he joked, explaining his impressive abdomen for the scene. But he did not use a body double. "I had to exercise a lot."
Initially, he said, he wanted to base the role on Mike "The Situation" Sorrento from the TV reality show "Jersey Shore". But producers balked at the idea -- "I thought it would be funny, and they thought it wouldn't be."
He also claims he figured out how to play this character -- and indeed each role he plays -- by working out "the percentage of Bugs Bunny versus Daffy Duck."
He explained: "Like Dean in 'Blue Valentine' was 80 per cent Daffy and 20 per cent Bugs. And with this (role) I finally got to just play Bugs Bunny -- that helped me to think of it in those terms. And Steve was Daffy."
Cartoon characters aside, Gosling, who is now regarded as one of the top actors of his generation, speaks seriously about why he didn't cash in on his Oscar nomination for "Half Nelson" in 2006 or the popularity of the romantic drama "The Notebook" in 2004 with a big Hollywood movie.
"I felt like I was cashing in, but just not financially. I was able to get more freedom in each next part that I played. So I just kind of gravitated toward that freedom. Money gives you freedom too, it's just what kind of freedom you want."
He did take home a bigger paycheck for "Stupid, Crazy, Love," but "my reasons for wanting to do it were the same. It's like when a song comes on, you want to dance and you don't know why. It just makes you want to dance. That's how I feel and I felt that way about 'Blue' and I felt that way about this."
After starting out at an early age as a dancer on "The Mickey Mouse Club" variety TV show alongside Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake -- Aguilera was then the most impressive, he said -- he landed parts in a number of TV shows, including one with Carell that was canceled.
He went on to observe acting titans such as Denzel Washington in his first small movie part in "Remember The Titans," but says Carell has been one of the best.
That may soon change. He will soon be seen in the George Clooney film, "The Ides of March" among several upcoming titles, but said he doesn't have any serious career plan.
"I just try to take it one step at a time," he said.
Editing by Jill Serjeant