Ryan Gosling's Road to Being a Badass

Blowing away mobsters as Sgt. Jerry Wooters in Gangster Squad isn't his first role as a badass. Let's take a journey, shall we?

Image courtesy Warner Bros.

We get it. Everyone is in love with Ryan Gosling. Teenagers who have since come of age still swoon over The Notebook and his blue eyes have inspired a thousand memes. Starting on Friday, January 11, however, he's ditching his sensitive side, picking up a machine gun, and blowing away mobsters as Sgt. Jerry Wooters in Gangster Squad. This isn't his first role as a badass. Let's take a journey, shall we?

Young Hercules (TV), 1998-1999

Gosling as a young Kevin Sorbo (the grown up, long-locked Hercules)? Yes, it happened. Shot in New Zealand, where every fantasy production must be filmed in accordance to "Peter Jackson's Law," Young Hercules was an after-school special that focused on Gosling's attempts to rid Ancient Greece of monsters and shirt sleeves. Thankfully, the gods have seen fit to put the entire series on Hulu.

Weapons of Choice: Sword, blonde Ryder Strong hair

Murder By Numbers, 2002

Ryan Gosling and Boardwalk Empire's Michael Pitt play brilliant high school students modeled after "Leopold and Loeb," the Chicago law students who famously killed a man in the 1920s just to see if they could commit the perfect crime. His intensity impressed critics and co-star Sandra Bullock, who ended up dating him despite the 16-year age difference.

Weapons of Choice: Forensics manual, teenage ennui

Drive, 2011

After a string of acclaimed dramas like Half Nelson and Blue Valentine, it was time for Gosling to kick some ass again, this time as the getaway driver in director Nicolas Winding Refn's stylish thriller Drive. He does it all: steals cars, shoots people and, in one of the most disturbing scenes of 2011, kicks in someone's head like a pumpkin. It's to Gosling's credit that you actually rooted for him the whole time.

Weapons of Choice: 1973 Chevy Malibu, totally sweet scorpion jacket

The Ides of March, 2011

Gosling doesn't always need a gun to terrify the opposition. In The Ides of March he plays a hotshot political operative pushing to get George Clooney's character elected president, kind of like a much, much, much more attractive Karl Rove. If only CSPAN was this entertaining.

Weapons of Choice: Cocky smile, a dysfunctional political system

Gangster Squad, 2013

Testosterone and bullets fly in this 1940s-era drama, which sees Gosling face off with a who's-who of grim-faced actors, including Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Nick Nolte—and yeah, he gets the girl (Emma Stone), too.

Weapons: Guns, guns, and more guns

The Place Beyond the Pines, 2013

Wish you could combine the vehicular-based carnage of Drive with the devastating heartbreak of Blue Valentine? Do we have a film for you! Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance reunites with Gosling in this movie about a bank robber on a dirtbike who steals to support his family. In the end he faces off against another one of Hollywood's hottest actors: Bradley Cooper.

Weapons of Choice: Motorcycle skills, painfully hot real-life girlfriend (Eva Mendes)

Only God Forgives, 2013

Sorry ladies, Gosling's face receives a serious beating in Only God Forgives, in which he plays a drug smuggler who runs an underground boxing club in Bangkok. And since the director is Drive's Nicolas Winding Refn, expect no-holds-barred violence, moral ambiguity, and a soundtrack your hipster friend won't be able to shut up about.

Weapons of Choice: Fists of fury

—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him @kwagstaff.

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