Inside Ryan Gosling's Troubled Childhood

Ryan Gosling's effortlessly cool personality often tricks fans into believing he had a picture-perfect childhood when, in reality, the actor grew up in a broken home. According to court documents obtained by Star (via Radar Online), the "La La Land" star's parents, Donna and Thomas Gosling, split up in 1994 after a two-decade-long marriage. Each parent reportedly accused the other of physical assault, and Thomas even claimed that his wife had been unfaithful to him. When Ryan sat down with The Guardian to discuss his directorial debut, "Lost River," in 2015, he shared how watching the finished film took him back to his parents' divorce. 

"[It was] a visualization of my emotions at that time. Everything demolished," he explained. After Donna and Thomas went their separate ways, young Ryan and his sister, Mandi Gosling, started living with their mom. According to Radar Online, the Canadian native wasn't keen on speaking to his dad post-split. Decades later, "The Notebook" star remains close to both women, so it was unsurprising when Ryan brought Mandi along as his date to the 2024 Oscars. 

The beloved actor revealed to The Guardian that Donna was frequently subjected to cat-calling by men because she was a gorgeous single woman. "You want to protect your family, but you feel weak and helpless," he admitted. "And it ignites your imagination because you start to picture scenarios in which you could defend her." Amid his heartbreaking circumstances at home, Ryan also dealt with personal turmoil as a young man who didn't fit in with his peers.

Gosling was nicknamed 'Trouble' in his childhood

While speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2007, Ryan Gosling recalled falling behind his classmates because he didn't even know how to read while they had already advanced to more complex skills. The Oscar nominee couldn't understand certain lessons but passed through years because of the school's grace. During a 2011 chat with Company magazine (via HuffPost), Gosling also detailed how he was suspended from school in the first grade after casually chucking around steak knives during lunch in a misguided attempt to replicate a scene from "Rambo." 

Nowadays, of course, Gosling has been more than "Kenough" for us numerous times, but back then, he didn't feel like it, so he had to act out to get female attention. In a 2007 interview with the Los Angeles Times, the "Barbie" star explained, "I was always picking fights. Because I thought that was what the girls would like." Gosling continued, "I'd pick on the toughest guys because the girls liked them. So if I beat them up, the girls would like me. But it never worked." 

In fact, the youngster's recklessness often landed him in hot water, to the extent that his nickname was "Trouble." In 2004, Gosling informed The New York Times that when he wasn't starting fights, he was getting bullied for his learning issues and coming home bruised and bleeding. On one such occasion, the actor's mom encouraged him to give the bullies a taste of their own medicine. 

The actor's family was also extremely religious

After then-8-year-old Ryan Gosling's mom told him to stand up to his tormentors, he marched back into school and made them pay with his fists. However, the former child star didn't get any pleasure out of seriously injuring others and he went home and cried to his mother once more. Gosling's school then joined the list of the many that he had exited or been asked to leave. Fortunately, his mom quit her job to home-school Gosling from that point onward. 

Despite their closeness, the mother-son duo didn't agree on everything. As Gosling acknowledged to The Village Voice, in 2002, his family practiced Mormonism significantly more wholeheartedly than he did. The beloved star confirmed likewise to The Guardian. "We were brought up pretty religious," he said. "My mother admits it: She says, you were raised by a religious zealot. She's different now, but at the time, it was a part of everything — what they ate, how they thought." 

The "Drive" star also noted that the time spent away from school and with his mom helped heal some of his emotional scars. In a way, his childhood struggles also led Gosling to find his calling. While chatting with Company, the actor shared that his childhood loneliness resulted in him watching loads of TV to fill in the gaps, which introduced Gosling to the late Raquel Welch. The youngster reasoned that he had to be in showbiz to have a shot with her and the rest is history.