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star struck

Soap opera
Ryan Gosling goes from Mickey Mouse Club member to rising heartthrob
By Chris Betros

Chris Betros

Canadian actor Ryan Gosling is on a roll. Not only did People magazine pick him as one of the 50 Hottest Bachelors of 2004, but he was also named the 2004 Sho West Male Star of Tomorrow. On the screen, the 24-year-old has been seen in Murder by Numbers, The Believer, The United States of Leland and now, The Notebook. “It looks like all the attention has come at once, but it’s a natural progression,” he says quietly. “I’ve been acting since I was 12 and I feel like a lot of my life to date has been just being in the right place at the right time.”

Born in Ontario, Gosling got his showbiz break at 12 when he appeared on television’s The Mickey Mouse Club. At 18, he landed the role of Zeus’ son in the popular TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The Notebook gives him his first romantic role. Based on the 1996 novel by Nicholas Sparks, the film is directed by Nick Cassavetes and co-stars James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Rachel McAdams, Sam Shepard and Joan Allen. Covering two time periods, it opens with Noah, an elderly man (Garner) reading a story to Allie, an elderly woman (Rowlands) with Alzheimer’s, in a nursing home. The story he reads is in reality a diary of their tumultuous pre-World War II romance. Separated by the war and by Allie’s parents, who don’t approve of his working-class background, the two lovers nevertheless are drawn back together by fate and circumstances. The elderly Noah hopes that by reading the diary it will bring back Allie’s memories.

“I thought the book was cool. It was anti-pop culture. Sparks is a ballsy guy,” says Gosling. “Pop culture makes love seem like it is much more available than it probably is. The film takes the point of view that you are not entitled to love and that if you are lucky enough to find such a rare love, you should stop at nothing to hold onto it. It’s a gift.” Working with Cassavetes was a great learning experience, Gosling says. “He has a lot of passion. It’s a way of life, not a movie when you are making a film with him. There is constant communication; everyone is involved.”

Gosling likes to throw himself right into his roles. “I learned how to make furniture, for example, for this film, because Noah is a carpenter. I learned Hebrew for The Believer.” When he is not working, Gosling likes to indulge in his other passion: jazz. He is an accomplished guitarist, but says it is more a hobby rather than a possible profession. M


 

 

the scene
Sweet Daruma Book Launch
Fujimama’s hosts a party for Janice Young’s satirical novel

Janice Young’s friends and colleagues celebrate the publication of her first book, Sweet Daruma: A Japanese Satire. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Hew, Akiko Simonson, Tae Hatate; Drasta Takada and Janice Young; Cheryl Devine and Satoshi Ishizaka, Janice’s husband; some of the 70 revelers hosted by Fujimamas

 

 

q&a
Bill Grimm
Catholic priest with a rosy outlook

Caring for the homeless, editing the Catholic weekly and ministering to Tokyo’s foreign community have kept Maryknoll missioner Bill Grimm, a native New Yorker, busy for the last couple of decades.

When did you first come to Japan?
In 1973. I spent three years as a seminary student in Tokyo studying the language.

Tell us about your work in the 1980s.
I helped organize a group called the Sanyu Kai to help the homeless. We borrowed an unused church kindergarten to run a night shelter, set up a soup kitchen and opened what was the only privately-run free medical clinic in Japan.

Suppose the emperor called you and said: “Grimm, we want something done about the homeless.” How would you respond?
Just because my name is “Grimm,” don’t think you can ask fairy tale questions! First, meet A-san, B-san and the rest who are men and women who happen to be homeless. Once you know them as people instead of problems, your heart will tell you what to do.

Do you ever get asked odd questions by Japanese about being a priest?
The oddest question is related to celibacy. They ask about my wife and kids. Another question is: “Was your father a priest?”

How do you feel about the way Japanese adopt Christian symbols into their pop culture?
For example, crosses as fashion accessories. It doesn’t bother me. I know lots of Christians in various countries who do the same thing. In fact, I’m related to some of them.

Do you think Japanese are religious?
I find they have the same fears, doubts and hopes as the rest of us. They also have hearts that can respond to the fears, doubts and hopes of others. That’s part of the definition of being religious, isn’t it?

How do you respond to those who say foreign priests shouldn’t be trying to convert the Japanese?
Missionaries don’t “convert” anyone as if it were molding clay. We try to expand the realm of choices that are before people. Obviously, some sort of conversion is needed in this world. We’re presenting an option that, if followed, might someday make for mercifully boring headlines. CB M

Would you like to comment on this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

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