Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt bring action and laughs to SXSW bow of 'The Fall Guy'


“I’m Ryan Gosling and I did almost none of my own stunts in this movie.”

The star of “The Fall Guy” immediately won over the crowd at the Paramount Theatre before the movie began with this self-effacing announcement. There was nothing but wild enthusiasm and affection in the room for director David Leitch’s adaptation of the 1980s television series, now transformed into a crowd-pleasing tribute to the power of moviemaking and the sweet pull of romance.

On Sunday night, Gosling and Emily Blunt presented a tribute to stunts at the Academy Awards and on Tuesday, they arrived for their new movie’s world premiere in the back of a pickup truck — with a vintage California license plate that read “Fall Guy” — after two motocross motorcycles had created a processional of wheelies and tire smoke in front of the theater.

In the film, Gosling plays Colt Seavers, a former stuntman who is called back into action when the star he most often doubled (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) goes missing during a shoot. The production is being directed by Jody Moreno (Blunt), the former camera operator with whom Seavers had a budding relationship before a career-ending accident.

When Gosling came out to introduce the movie — “Don’t worry, I’m not going to sing, I promise,” he said, playfully referencing his spectacular “I’m Just Ken” number at the Oscars — he quickly began giving credit to the movie’s stunt team. He noted how Logan Holladay broke a stunt world record during the “Fall Guy” shoot by doing a “cannon roll” that flipped a car 8½ rotations.

“There’s a moment in the film where he buckles me in for a stunt he’s about to do,” said Gosling. “And after it happens, I come out of the car and he pats me on the back for a stunt he just did. How f— up is that?

“But what I love about this movie is that in any other film, you would never know that, but in this movie you do,” continued Gosling. “It’s an opportunity to finally acknowledge the stunt performers, the incredible contribution that they make to movies.”

Director Leitch, himself a stuntman turned filmmaker, noted that seven years ago to the day, he premiered his Charlize Theron-starring espionage thriller “Atomic Blonde” at SXSW. (A clip from that film features in a montage at the beginning of “The Fall Guy.”)

“This film is really personal to me, being a stuntman for 20 years,” said Leitch. “We wanted to celebrate crews and the magic behind the scenes and the people that make those movies.”

Just before the start of the film, Gosling said, “We were every day saying, ‘What about the audience? What are they going to want?’ And so I just want to say it’s so nice to finally meet you. It’s good to see your faces and to have you be the first audience to see the film.”

That the film’s stunts were duly spectacular was perhaps no surprise. What did sneak up on the audience was the romantic chemistry between Blunt and Gosling. It’s a charming and engaging tale told around explosions and car chases.

A scene in which the two of them begin to hash out what went wrong in their relationship while speaking on bullhorns in front of a whole film set is particularly delightful and captures the off-kilter energy of the movie at its best.

After the film, Leitch and Gosling came back onstage along with Blunt, co-stars Stephanie Hsu, Winston Duke and Hannah Waddingham, writer Drew Pearce, producer Guymon Casady and producer Kelly McCormick.

“Ryan’s an amazing actor, as you know, and he gets to do all these different talents,” said Leitch. “He could be great romantically, he can do comedy, he can do action. And we were starting to see this film had all of it, and we could lean into all of those skills that he has.”

As to how accurate the film’s depiction of the production of a movie is, Blunt said, “Very, very accurate. I feel like there’s always a bit of chaos, like the bigger the movie gets, then the more chaotic it seems to get.”

“It felt like they were a couple of very meta, ‘Tropic Thunder’-type days,” added Waddingham.

Leitch and McCormick are themselves married and Gosling noted of their relationship, “I was so inspired by David and Kelly. They have such a beautiful love story. They make these movies together and they treat their crew and everyone, their actors, like family, and it’s beautiful to watch the way that they are as a couple and the way that they work together. There was inherently a love story already at the heart of this movie with the two of them.”

Leitch was asked about the possibility of an Oscar for stunts sometime in the near future.

“I do feel it’s changing and there’s been a group of stunt people working inside the academy now for several years that are really going through the process,” offered Leitch. “I think the academy wants it and I think it’s going to happen.”



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