9 Milestones in the Evolution of Ryan Gosling

In this weekend's Drive, Ryan Gosling plays a Steve McQueen-esque movie stuntman by day and a getaway wheelman by night. How did Mr. Notebook transform himself from a 13-year-old Mickey Mouseketeer who soulfully sang cheesy lyrics alongside Justin Timberlake to one of our most respected movie stars and box office heartthrobs? You can always trace a direct line through a few important roles to illustrate what led to an actor's current success. As such, let's look at nine pivotal performances that track the evolution of Ryan Gosling.

The Mickey Mouse Club (1993)

Gosling grew up in Canada, performing with his older sister at weddings and with his uncle as part of an Elvis Presley tribute act. But when the blossoming actor turned 12, he graduated form his family's stage and successfully auditioned for a part in The Mickey Mouse Club. There, Gosling acted, danced and sang weirdly sensual slow jams to the Disney audience opposite future stars JC Chasez, Keri Russell, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1999)

A year later, Gosling hung up his Mickey Mouse ears and hit the auditioning circuit. After six years worth of bit roles in TV series like Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps, Gosling scored his first lead gig at the age of 19 in the Sam Raimi-executive produced Fox Kids series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The actor moved to New Zealand to star as the brawny son of Zeus in this adventure show. Only Gosling was not so brawny -- so the make-up and wardrobe departments reportedly painted on muscle contours and redesigned his wardrobe to make him seem bulkier. In spite of the show's future star power, Gosling's breakout TV project only lasted one season.

The Believer (2001)

Attention all teen stars: If you want the public to consider you an adult performer and not just another studio mass-creation, do like Ryan Gosling did, and star as a Jewish anti-Semite in a controversial indie. As the self-hating aforementioned character Danny in Henry Bean's The Believer, Gosling earned his first critical praise in addition to an Independent Spirit Award nomination. This was not only the jumping off point for Gosling's film career but the first project where you can really detect that strange Brooklyn accent the Canadian actor adopted -- so that he would sound tough "like Marlon Brando."

Murder By Numbers (2002)

Gosling may have had a small part in the Denzel Washington sports drama Remember the Titans, but the actor did not earn his first significant studio credit until Murder By Numbers. Playing opposite his biggest co-star yet, Sandra Bullock, the Canadian actor starred as a wealthy high school student who helps plan "perfect murders" for sport. Although the Barbet Schroeder picture received mixed reviews from critics, it was a modest box office success proving that Gosling could deliver as a male lead.

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