Interview: "Gangster Squad" Director Ruben Fleischer Talks Ryan Gosling's Voice and Movie Violence

Interview: "Gangster Squad" Director Ruben Fleischer Talks Ryan Gosling's Voice and Movie Violence

Gangster Squad, director Ruben Fleischer's third feature, opened in theaters in January, and told the story of an elite crime-fighting squad assembled to protect 1940s L.A. from notorious gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). Evoking noir pictures like L.A. Confidential, the ensemble-based action flick boasted a grip of talent, including Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, and Giovanni Ribisi. It's now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

The film was originally set to open last September, but the release was pushed back because of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Fleischer's film included a shoot-out set in a movie theater that was cut out of respect for the tragedy. Complex spoke with the director to ask about the possibility of the scene ever being shown, and what was up with Ryan Gosling's voice in the movie. (If you haven't seen it, just know that it's a tad unconventional.)

Interview by Ross Scarano (@RossScarano)

Everyone I've spoken to about the film talked about Ryan Gosling's voice. Is that something he worked out with you, or something he developed himself?
It’s definitely something that Ryan brought to the character. I think that he wanted to play against type. Everyone in the gangster squad is a very traditional, alpha, macho guy, and I think he decided to take it in a different direction and play a little bit against type.

What was your reaction the first time you heard him using the character’s voice?
It was different from what I'd pictured for the character, but the great thing about Ryan is that he has incredible instincts. He knows what works for him and I trusted him as an actor to make the decision he felt was right for the character.

The theater scene has not made its way to the DVD, right?
It's not, no.

Are you comfortable with it not seeing the light of day?
I hope it does see the light of day at some point, but it’s not my decision to make. Ultimately Warner will release it when they feel it's appropriate, or if they feel comfortable releasing it. But it’s  not my decision. 

It becomes a question of timing on their part.
There’s a lot of sensitivity to these tragedies, and if the release of that scene is going to make people feel badly, or make people feel uncomfortable, I don’t think they want it out there.

Will this experience make you more cautious about the sort of violence you're willing to depict on screen?
We definitely pushed it with this film. We set out to make a very violent movie. It begins in the first couple minutes, with the guy getting ripped in half. That sets the tone for the rest of the film. You have to think about what you’re putting out there and what people want to see. Given last week’s bombing in Boston, I’m not sure if that’s what audiences are rushing to the theatres to see right now. I think you have to be responsible and respect that.

But speaking as an artist, is it something you're less interested in doing, irregardless of audience?
I don’t feel a compulsion—whatever the next movie ends up being, it will be determined by whatever that script is. Am I looking for a movie that's violent? No, not per se. I’m looking for a story that I’m excited to tell. And whatever that story needs to come to life is how it will come to life.

Gangster Squad is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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Tags: gangster-squad, ruben-fleischer, ryan-gosling
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