Talk Therapy: Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams Open Up About Blue Valentine



Nearly thirty years after the label closed its doors, a mysterious box of tapes turned up at an estate sale in Columbus, OH. […] The tape boxes were for the most part unmarked; creating a puzzle that would require some time to solve. This anecdote on Numero Group’s website—a multi-format media company that originally started as an archival label—accompanies the only known recording by the band Penny & the Quarters. Their song, “You and Me,” is classic soul: grin-inducing and instantly charming. It realizes those punch-drunk moments of new and tender love, like running upstairs to kiss and to be close while downstairs, your parents clear the table after dinner. You’ve likely never heard it before, but after seeing Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, where in one scene early in their courtship, Dean (Ryan Gosling) gives Cindy (Michelle Williams) a CD and tells her, “I got us a song,” you’ll probably never forget it.

The film, which tells the two-fold story of a couple who falls in and painfully out of love, was itself singular to make. While in New York doing press for the film, Gosling shared with us what it was like working alongside Williams. “I’ve never had this kind of connection with another actor before. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that I knew that this person was on board and had been preparing the role for six years. And I was preparing mine for four, and Derek had been trying to make this film for twelve years. So when we finally went to make [it], we knew who each other were. And there’s a trust there that you can’t achieve in a couple months of rehearsal. We proved ourselves to each other before we even started.”

Characterizing Blue Valentine as a “duet,” Cianfrance asked his actors to abandon the script and exert what came intuitively. Williams, who had “been secretly afraid of improvisation [her] whole life,” shared with Interview what it was like shooting those scenes set in the past. “Everything was new. It’s like life. Like saying something for the first time, like discovering it. It’s me as a five-year-old, learning to read.” Reversely, shooting the present of Dean and Cindy’s relationship—which occurs six years later—required repeated takes and deliberate friction. A shower scene in a sleazy, future-themed hotel room was shot over the course of two days. Petty arguments ran their course, screaming; odious, fights ran their course; taut silence, too, ran its course.

“I think what’s really special about the movie is that it’s not pretending to have any answers; it doesn’t pretend to know anything,” Gosling told Interview. “We’re trying to ask a question. What happens to love? Where does it go? How is it that you can be so in love and then years later you’re trying to kill each other? Why is it that that happens?”