LOS ANGELES — Ryan Gosling's character in "Gangster Squad" is a smooth-talking charmer who's quick with a joke. So, not really much of a stretch for the actor. In fact, it's tough to get anything like a straight answer out of him. For instance, when asked what was challenging about taking on 1940s L.A. cop Jerry Wooters, Gosling offers, "It was challenging for me when I realized that I was not going to get a Tommy gun. I thought for sure I would have one. Instead, I got a little, tiny lady gun. [Co-star] Josh [Brolin] kind of hogged the Tommy gun. So, that was difficult for me."
And what about the high-pitched voice he used for Wooters? Did that come from his research into the man himself? Not exactly. "That was more of a wardrobe issue," Gosling offers. And speaking of his wardrobe: "The wool was quite itchy, so I had a rash," he says. "I channeled that irritation into my hatred for the gangsters."
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It might not be surprising to learn, then, that one of Gosling's main sources of inspiration for his performance was one of the era's most entertaining characters. "I always kind of admired how Bugs Bunny was not above dressing like a lady in order to get out of trouble," he says. "I thought that that could be interesting in this in some way, this person trying to make themselves inconspicuous. That was in my head. But I also was trying to relate that as well to the idea that this is a real person. I think it’s important to note that the man himself was a much braver, more admirable character than the version of him that I play in the film."
SIDEBAR: Keeping tabs on Emma Stone
"Gangster Squad" marks the second time Ryan Gosling has gotten to show-off his on-screen chemistry with Emma Stone — they first romanced each other in 2011's "Crazy Stupid Love." But to hear Gosling tell it, there was a much more practical reason than chemistry to re-team with Stone. "Well, Emma owes me money. The only way I can try and get that back is by doing movies with her. She still owes me that money," he says with a grin, making Stone blush. She asks how much more she owes him, to which he responds, "I’m glad we’re finally talking about that. It’s a shame we had to come here and do this."
Joking aside, Gosling admits his patter with Stone works better for comedy than drama, which made their latest film something of a challenge. "I think it was hard for us to be serious. We had made this comedy together, so we were a couple of knuckleheads," he says. "We thought, This will be fun to work together again. Then we had to try and be serious. I was trying to pretend like I was Humphrey Bogart or something. That kind of made it difficult."