Oct 12, 2007 - Academy Award-nominee Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) is following up his starring roles in Fracture and Lars and the Real Girl with the role of Jack Salmon, father of 14-year-old murder victim Susie, in the big screen adaptation of Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel, The Lovely Bones. Rachel Weisz has been cast as Gosling’s onscreen wife, with Saoirse Ronan of Atonement and the upcoming City of Ember playing Susie Salmon.
Peter Jackson will be directing the much-anticipated film from a screenplay he adapted with Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh. The story is told from Susie’s point of view, looking down from Heaven. After her rape and murder, Susie watches as her family and school friends work through their grief and come to terms with her disappearance.
On the set of Fox Walden’s City of Ember in Belfast, Ireland, Gosling’s Lovely Bones daughter Saoirse Ronan spoke enthusiastically about signing on to play Susie. “I love being able to do a variety of different things so it’s great to do a film like this and then do The Lovely Bones which is a bit more deep, I suppose,” Ronan told About.com in September 2007. “But you know, I’ve read the script, obviously, a few times, The Lovely Bones, and it’s quite humorous, you know? I mean when you hear it, obviously you think that it’s going to be really dark when you hear what it’s about. But it’s actually got funny bits in it. It’s such a beautiful script and they did a great job, so I’m very, very excited.”
At the press junket for the independent film Lars and the Real Girl, Gosling talked about why he wanted to be involved with The Lovely Bones. “I read that book a long time ago. I think it’s so beautiful, and it’s a totally unique story. I’m trying to think, there is nothing really like it. And to work with Peter Jackson on something like this…I loved Heavenly Creatures,” explained Gosling. “I think it’s such a beautiful film. And in a way he’s really, he’s fearless as a director. He takes on things that you kind of have to be crazy to take on. To do Lord of the Rings you have to kind of be nuts because there is no way you are going to win. You are always going to have naysayers and people saying you ruined it or whatever. But he’s my kind of nuts because he doesn't care and he does it anyway. There are so many units and it takes him years to make it. He doesn’t care. And he makes this movie, and then he does King Kong. Now he’s doing Lovely Bones. People have such reverence for that book, and he’s just like, ‘I’m going to try that.’ So it’s exciting to work with somebody like that.”
In addition to gaining back the weight he’d just lost after filming Lars and the Real Girl, Ryan Gosling’s not sure what else he’ll have to do to prepare for The Lovely Bones. “I’m just in the thick of it now so I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
The book and screenplay are launching points for Gosling, but the rest of the process of getting into character is a mystery -- even to the actor himself. "It’s hard to describe when you are in it," Gosling explained about getting ready to play a father tormented by the loss of his young daughter. "When I’m out of it, I’ll be able to decipher what’s been happening. But I’m getting ready to do that. We go in next month to start the film.”
Gosling said most of his part will be shot in Philadelphia, but he will have the chance to work briefly in New Zealand.
[Update as of Oct 21, 2007: Variety is reporting that Ryan Gosling has now dropped out of The Lovely Bones just days before shooting was set to begin. Gosling had already grown a beard and gained 20 pounds for the role. According to Variety, the reason appears to have been 'creative differences'. Mark Wahlberg has agreed to take over the part.]