The film is nominated for five Film Independent Spirit Awards and was given the best first feature award by the New York Film Critics Circle. Gosling, 26, is nominated for a Spirit Award for his stunning work as the brilliant but troubled educator, he also won best breakthrough performance male from the National Board of Review. The Broadcast Film Critics also recognized Gosling with a nod for best actor.
Over the past five years, he's appeared in such films as "Murder By Numbers," "The Notebook" and "Stay."
Gosling recently completed "Lars and the Real Girl," about a man's obsession with a sex doll.
Q: Though you have made mainstream films like the romance "The Notebook," most of your movie roles have been in small, indie films. Do you find that the characters in these film is more complex than in high-profile projects?
Ryan Gosling: I have an answer and then a contradictory answer. The contradictory answer is I don't really discriminate against budget. I look for roles I can relate to where I don't have to force myself to conform to the entertainment business idea of reality. You know - I don't recognize anything I relate to in my life.
Q: What was it about the character in "Half Nelson" you could relate to?
Get breaking news alerts delivered to your mobile phone. Text BREAKING to 52669. You will receive up to 30 msgs/mo. Msg&data rates may apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.
Ryan Gosling: I felt like he was like somebody we have all met, you know, or have been at some point. I thought after I had read it that I had met somebody or I had seen pieces of myself. I feel like myself or people I know, everybody I really know, doesn't really feel appropriately all the time, isn't sad when they are suppose to be, can't cry on cue, doesn't always know what to say, isn't able to implement some kind of change in your life that they have just learned. There is no recognizable character arc in their story. There is just a bunch of false starts and at times contradicting yourself. I felt all the characters in the film were doing that -- being very judgmental, having false modesty and then having pure acts of kindness and also self-gratifying acts of kindness. All of those things, like them or not, that is what we are like.
Q: Are your surprised that "Half Nelson" has been so warmly embraced by critics and audiences?
Ryan Gosling: It feels like really encouraging that you can make something so personal and so small and so private and that it can have some kind of ripple effect. It can have a really long reach and transcend its budget, which comes back to my contrary answer to the beginning, which was when I was saying I don't discriminate against budget because I am just looking for character. But the contrary answer to that is independent films are not all like that. I think most of them are this kind of bleak, really pessimistic idea of what it is like to be a person and Hollywood's idea is like science fiction fantasy version of what reality is like. There has to be somewhere in the middle and a small portion of independent films are like ["Half Nelson"]. And if you make something for under a certain price, nobody is watching you. I think one of the reasons we were allowed to experiment and work with the sense of artistic freedom in this film is that it didn't cost that much.
Q: You were previously nominated for a Spirit Award for "The Believer" and for best kiss from the MTV Movie Awards for "The Notebook"
Ryan Gosling: Which I really, really pride myself on.
Q: What you are feelings toward awards?
Ryan Gosling: It depends on what it's for and why you are getting it. ometimes you'll get an award so you will show up somewhere, so you will come. And some things like what is happening with 'Half Nelson' is completely unexpected and it's helpful. Whether you care about them or not it generates an awareness about your film that you couldn't buy - or in some cases you can buy. I find it very inspiring and encouraging that people want to see movies like this.
Q: Do you want to try your hand at directing?
Ryan Gosling: Absolutely. I am going to make a film next year. It is a script hat I wrote. It is about child soldiers in Uganda. It is going to be starring real kids from the army.
Q: Will you be shooting it in Africa?
Ryan Gosling: Yes. I can't wait.