Interviewer*: This is a pretty unique film. You play this young man who lives in a garage apartment, painfully shy. I guess you could say he's somewhere on the autism spectrum. Avoids a lot of human contact. He doesn't like being touched. He ends up getting a full-sized sex doll and introducing it to his family as his girlfriend. The town, for reasons that begin to unfold as the film develops, kind of plays along in a way. When you looked at this filmscript, why didn't it seem ridiculous? How did you see this work?
Ryan Gosling: [Laughs]
Interviewer: When you describe that to somebody they say, "I'm not going to see that movie!" And it really works. I think it's a terrific movie.
Ryan Gosling: Look, I felt the same way the whole time I was reading it. I thought, "This shouldn't be working. But it is." I'd like to take credit for that but it was a really well-written script. Nancy Oliver is a very special writer. It worked. It worked as a script potentially more than it was going to work as a film. If you look at a book like "The Velveteen Rabbit," or something, and you talk about a kid who loves a bunny so much that it becomes real, that makes it real. That's an easier thing to imagine than it is to visualize. To try and shoot that you have to get into "how do we make it real?" Do we use CGI [computer-generated imagery]? Do we use a puppet? But then it turns into something else. The idea of a guy... In the script she became real. When you're reading it, the more real she was to him and the more the town treated her like she was a real person, the more real she became to you. When you're watching it, it's a guy talking to a doll and she never becomes real.
Ryan Gosling: You know, it's never going to happen. It's always going to be a guy talking to a doll no matter how much I believe it. It doesn't make her real.
Interviewer: Let's listen to a scene. This is a scene where your character, Lars, has just told his brother and sister-in-law he has a visitor, his girlfriend, and she's from abroad, and she needs a wheelchair. They're very excited to hear this because they think he's actually met someone. And they invite the friend, Bianca, in and they discover that indeed she is a sex doll though she's fully dressed. They're not quite sure how to react. They say, "Well, we're having dinner." And so the scene we're going to hear is where you're all sitting at dinner and they've set a place for your friend -- your doll -- Bianca. You're beginning to explain to your sister-in-law and brother (played by Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider), and there are some moments in the scene when you whisper an aside to Bianca the doll.
Ryan Gosling/Lars: So, you're never going to believe this... Bianca's from the tropics. Well, she's Brazilian. One half-Brazilian, one-half Danish, that's right? And somebody stole her luggage.
Lars: Yeah! And they stole her wheelchair.
Karen: That's terrible!
Lars: Yeah! Can you believe that, Gus?
Gus: I can't believe it.
Lars: Right! Well, it makes me angry. Anyway, I wanted to ask you a favor. (Aside, to Bianca: She doesn't mind. I promise.) Karen, you don't mind lending Bianca some clothes, do you? She doesn't have any.
Lars: Do you?
Karen: I'm not sure we're the same type, Lars.
Lars: Well, that's okay, Karen, because Bianca doesn't really care about superficial things like that, so it's okay.
Lars: Well (sighs). That's fine! (Aside, to Bianca: See, I told you.) Thanks!
Interviewer: How do you get this... how...
Ryan Gosling: She's still in my living room, by the way. She is. She's reading a book by the window. I don't know what to do.
Interviewer: I don't know whether you're kidding me or not.
Ryan Gosling: I'm not kidding. What do I do? Put her in the garage? Just feels weird. Feels like she'll be lonely out there.
Interviewer: ... Do you ever talk to her?
Ryan Gosling: No, I don't.
Interviewer: Ahhh. That's reassuring!
Interviewer: I don't know if this is true but I read that when the film was being made that the sex doll, Bianca, had her own dressing room with magazines to read. Was she sort of treated as a cast member?
Ryan Gosling: Yes. We tried very hard -- the director did, I'd say, and I appreciated it -- to make her as real as possible, so the crew could go on the same journey that we, the cast, were being forced to go through. She had a trailer. She had her own, like, contract with nudity clauses and all the things actresses would have. And I'll tell you, I've worked with actresses that have given me less!
Ryan Gosling: And she had... you know, she was given magazines between takes. What was kind of amazing about the experience was that, by the end, people were trying it out. I saw grips who'd take give minutes out with their coffee and you'd see them kind of mumbling to her, trying to see what it was like to talk to her. The effect that she had was interesting. You ended up getting into this dialogue with yourself. It was an interesting dialogue to have. I embraced it and I started to see people embrace it. But ultimately the main criticism of the film that I heard was that people saying, "Well, you know, that's not possible. People in the town would never believe she was real. They'd never go around acting like that." In one case, maybe that wasn't true because I saw this film crew really giving it a shot. At the same time, it was a fantasy. It's like a fairy tale.
Interviewer: A fable...
Ryan Gosling: People were taking it so literally.
*Excerpt from an interview with actor Ryan Gosling on NPR's "Fresh Air"