When A-listers get ugly

Ryan Gosling, Johnny Depp and the need for real men to resist the pressure to "go ugly".

Ryan Gosling On The Big Short Red Carpet
Ryan mighty Gosling has "uglied up" for his latest role. Image Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Ryan Gosling, the man invariably described as a “Hollywood hottie”, has said he relished “going ugly” for his new film role.

In The Big Short, an all-star movie about the 2008 financial crash, Gosling plays a bank trader. To bring his character to life, he sported a wig which, the US press reported excitedly, “altered his appearance”. Which is essentially what you’d expect a wig to do, if you were a betting man.

“The performance was really just powered by the wig”, said Gosling. “It was a hair-fuelled performance. It’s really like a Samson kind of story.” It took thirty minutes each morning to get the wig to set properly, which is longer than Jason Statham takes to learn his lines.

Brad Pitt, Christian Bale and Steve Carell co-star. Carell took one look at the “hunky heartthrob” when Gosling emerged from his trailer and, upon witnessing the barnet, said to Ryan, “Never do this again. Do it for this, but never, ever, do this again.”

 

“It was a hair-fuelled performance. It’s really like a Samson story”

 

Some may be hoping he will. Gosling has said he’s never played a part before that required him not to be good-looking. How our hearts bleed for the poor little lambkin. How he suffers for his art.

Of course it’s tough for most men to relate to Ryan’s trials and the great sacrifices he’s making for the furtherance of his craft. As most of us are good-looking all the time – ridiculously good-looking, as our role model Derek Zoolander might say – we will never know what it is to have to “go ugly”. And even if Gosling is doing it for just one job plus a lot of money and praise, you still can’t knock his heroic thespian commitment.

It’s not just Gosling who’s going the extra inch this year. Recently Johnny Depp appeared “as you’ve never seen him before”. Almost unrecognisable in crime epic Black Mass as drug lord James “Whitey” Bulger, Depp sported a prosthetic nose and rubber forehead, wildly receding hairline, fake eyebrows, blue contact lenses, crumbling brown-yellow teeth and a general sickly-green pallor.

Johnny Depp At Black Mass Preview
Johnny Handsome Depp after he'd "gone ugly". Oh wait. Sorry Johnny. Image John Phillips/Getty Images

Depp explained he was “trying to find the essential humanity of the man”.

As essential humans we can understand that. Only when movie stars look like bloated meerkats who have been run over by a juggernaut can our less lucky pals see their essential humanity within them.

 

“It’s reassuring to know that Ryan and Johnny are representing for our less aesthetically breathtaking brethren’

 

But yes, we hear your protests, and concur – most of you are way too gorgeous to comprehend such artistic conceits. While you stare at the mirror 24/7 admiring your own perfection it’s reassuring to know Ryan and Johnny are representing for our less aesthetically breathtaking brethren.

It’s yet another indication of how much more worthy of adulation movie stars are than doctors or nurses or firefighters or teachers. Would a doctor or teacher or firefighter or nurse “go ugly” for a few days just to be better at their job? Don’t be absurd. They wouldn’t have the courage. Ryan and Johnny are doing it to get award nominations, and that’s much more important.

Just one caveat: if this becomes a trend there will be pressure placed upon us poor males to put the hours in to join the herd. To do whatever the opposite of “groom” is. However, we must man up, maintain our self-image, and weather this storm of ickiness. Stare it in the gammy, seeping eye and say: no. I am beautiful. No matter what they say. And then to wonder why we have an annoying Christina Aguilera earworm for hours.

Resist. Stay strong. And above all let’s just be grateful that movies, the media and advertising never pile any pressure on women to worry unduly about their appearance. Because if things got that far, society would just be fucked.

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Loaded freelance reporter Chris Roberts has written extensively about music, film, literature and TV. He is also the author of around a dozen books.

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