Ryan Gosling on Blade Runner: Look out for Ford's punches
Actor Ryan Gosling shares what it was like working with superstar Harrison Ford on Blade Runner 2049
Released 35 years ago, Blade Runner became a cult classic with its groundbreaking marriage of film noir and science fiction.
In the long-anticipated sequel Blade Runner 2049, which opens here tomorrow, Ryan Gosling steps into Harrison Ford's shoes as the lead.
Ford reprises his role as the replicant-hunting Los Angeles (LA) cop Rick Deckard from the first movie, but it is Gosling's story now.
The 36-year-old Canadian actor saw the 1982 original when he was 12.
"What is just as interesting as the film itself is the experience you have after you have seen it," he said during our interview at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in downtown LA.
"Part of the reason it became such a cult film is because people cannot shake it. It stays with you, and you care about these characters. The world created feels nightmarish but possible. And so it haunts you."
Helmed this time by Denis Villeneuve (instead of Ridley Scott, the director of the first movie who is the executive producer for this one), the follow-up does not let fans down.
Villeneuve recreates the dystopian LA in 2049 as if nothing has changed. The urban blight, acid rain, lack of greenery, perpetual night and huge neon advertisements are the same.
What is different is that the old replicants (humanoids created in labs to work as slaves off-world) are outlawed and hunted down by LA policemen known as blade runners.
They are also replaced by new models that are totally obedient and easily controlled.
Enter Gosling's blade runner, faithfully carrying out the orders of his boss (Robin Wright).
He does not have any other name but K.
He cannot countermand any of his superior's orders.
He lives alone with only technology for company - you will have to see the movie to understand what that means.
His mandate is to "retire" the old replicants.
In doing so, he stumbles across a secret that will shake the entire world were it to come out, and it compels him to solve a mystery that continues the question raised in the first movie: What does it mean to be human?
The producers of the film were adamant the actors not discuss Blade Runner 2049 in any depth, so to pry any answers out of them, even simple ones about their characters, proved difficult.
Furthermore, Gosling is famously reticent about his personal life - he has two young daughters with US actress-girlfriend Eva Mendes.
He did say he loved that there are three strong female roles in the update, played by Cuban actress Ana de Armas, Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks and Swiss actress Carla Juri.
(I guess I've caught the secrecy bug. I cannot reveal who they play without massive spoilers).
The fight scenes with them were fine, said Gosling, but "it is Harrison's punches you have to look out for".
There is also a love scene that has never been seen before in any movie. When asked about it, Gosling refused to say how it was shot.
He added: "When I first read it, I read it without any information. And when we shot it, we shot it without any information. So I would love to preserve that for the audience."
Gosling thinks Blade Runner 2049 is a cautionary tale about the future with its apocalyptic landscape, but "what is interesting about science fiction is that it allows you to experience a projected future that is a worst-case scenario".
He added: "And when the film is over, you are given the opportunity to ask yourself some questions as to what you can do to prevent it from becoming that way."
When asked why Villeneuve called him his muse for the production, Gosling joked: "I have to give him 50 bucks a day to say that."
When pressed, he continued: "We were great partners. He was collaborative but also clear on his own vision.
"So much of this movie existed in his head, so what was important to me was to take a deep dive into his dream of what this could be and to help him in the best way that I knew how to realise that."
And what was it like working with Ford?
At least for this answer, Gosling did not hold back.
"He is the best collaborator you could ask for. He is an incredible storyteller.
"As an actor, to create one character in your career that an audience would want you to revisit would be an achievement. In Harrison's case, that has happened so many times. It is unprecedented.
"So to have the opportunity to work with him and to have a window into what that experience was like for him, making all these great films over the years, was a good experience for me."
The entire film was shot in Budapest. There is not as much green screen as you would expect and lavish sets were built.
Gosling said: "I first went to visit what is technically, in the screenplay, a small set.
"Not only had they made that set, but when I looked out the window, they had created the street outside the set, and they created the buildings across the street. Then they created the buildings in the distance.
"Within every window of these buildings was its own lighting pattern, mirroring a separate, autonomous life and story.
"So the level at which Denis was prepared to commit to his vision in that way was not only inspiring, but also as an actor, you are not forced to imagine very much.
"The environment has a big impact on performance. So I felt Denis did everything in his power to give us every tool we could have to do the best job that we could do."
Go see it if you want a cinematic experience that will engage you, move you and stay with you. The closing shot is worth the price of admission.
I guarantee you will wait impatiently for the next one. Let us just hope it does not take another 35 years.