Since landing his big break in 1993 on the US children's TV series Mickey Mouse Club alongside Justin, Britney and Christina, Stay star Ryan Gosling has gone on to build a Hollywood reputation and become a household name in his Canadian homeland.
Ryan was born in London, Ontario, on November 12, 1980 to parents Thomas and Donna Gosling. His father's job as a travelling salesman for a paper mill meant the family - which included older sister, Mandi - moved frequently, until the siblings' parents called quits on the relationship and divorced.
"I had a difficult time," admits Ryan of the family's peripatetic lifestyle, which involved "many schools" and "many teachers". With her son frequently bullied and struggling with reading and writing, Ryan's mother enrolled him in a special education class before taking him out of the education system completely in favour of home schooling.
The aspiring actor first demonstrated a knack for showbiz when he and Mandi formed a musical partnership to perform at local talent shows. But the break that would set his career on a whole new path came when he auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club in Montreal. And after Ryan was chosen over 17,000 other hopefuls also desperate to land a place on the Disney show, things began to look up.
He spent two seasons on the programme, during which time he lived with Justin Timberlake and his mother. Other TV roles followed, including the short-lived Young Hercules which earned the teen pin-up yet more fans. Then, at 17, the budding actor won his first big-screen role, playing a football player in Remember The Titans.
It wasn't, however, until he turned in a memorable performance as a Jewish teen who gets involved with a neo-Nazi group in 2001's The Believer which picked up the grand jury prize at the Sundance film festival that the young actor, then 21, first started to get noticed by movie critics. Since then, opting for low-budget movies as opposed to Hollywood blockbusters, he has become known for quirky roles such as a juvenile delinquent in the 2003 indie flick The United States Of Leland and a drug-addicted teacher in Half Nelson which earned him a 2007 Oscar nomination.
More mainstream ventures include the role as a teenage killer in Murder By Numbers opposite Sandra Bullock - whom he dated briefly - and romantic lead in the tear-jerker The Notebook with Rachel McAdams. The on-screen chemistry with his Canadian co-star Rachel, who shares the distinction of being born in the same London, Ontario, hospital as her beau, led to a high-profile off-screen relationship. "She is one of the kindest people I have ever met her kindness is something that inspires me," he says.
The couple's shared roots were also a factor. "The fact that we come from the same place and have a lot in common helps," explains Hollywood-based Ryan. "In this town, it is nice to have roots in common..." And the fact that those roots lie outside Tinseltown is an added bonus. "Being Canadian gives you a little bit of an outsider's perspective," he says.
Though the two confirmed they parted ways in October 2007, they sparked rumours of a rekindled romance when Rachel was spotted supporting Ryan's new DJ debut in LA in late July 2008.
And when he's not filming back-to-back movies, Ryan heads home frequently, visiting the woman he credits with having had "a real impact" on him his mother.