Ryan Gosling says he knew he wanted kids with Eva Mendes when they made 2012's 'The Place Beyond the Pines': A look back at their romance

(Photos: Getty Images)
Ryan Gosling knew Eva Mendes was the one when they were playing parents on the big screen in 2012. (Photos: Getty Images)

Ryan Gosling says raising a family with Eva Mendes is "better than I ever had dreamed for myself."

The A-list couple, whose romance was ignited on the set of the 2012 film The Place Beyond the Pines, like keeping their real-life love story mysterious to those on the outside. For instance: Are they married? They won't tell. And how exactly did they meet? Well, it's a great story, but they aren't telling it.

However, the Barbie actor, 42, is the most candid yet about home life in a new interview with GQ. He talks about how playing parents on-screen made him want to start a family with Mendes — and only Mendes — in real life ("I realized that this would be a life I would be really lucky to have") and talks about how he leans on her advice ("She knows what’s important, always").

Together for over a decade, we look at their journey from Luke and Romina in the crime drama that brought them together to life as mom and dad...

Unknown date: The two Hollywood stars met. It's unclear exactly when, but Mendes has since referred to it as a "long, fun story actually." One she then didn't tell.

2011: The Notebook actor, whose exes included Sandra Bullock, Rachel McAdams and Olivia Wilde, came together professionally with the 2 Fast 2 Furious actress to make The Place Beyond the Pines in August. He played Luke Glanton, a traveling motorcycle stuntman who was reunited with his ex Romina Gutierrez, played by Mendes, and learned that her baby was actually his.

While their on-screen love story got cut short (no spoilers), Gosling and Mendes — who had recently ended her nine-year relationship with producer George Augusto — had an undeniable spark. The blogs went crazy following their dates — at his happy place, Disneyland, and dinner by the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Suddenly all of the Gosling "Hey, Girl" memes involved Mendes, and there were entire news stories devoted to Mendes being seen walking Gosling's dog. Though, fairly, George was also famous. (RIP, George!)

While they didn't publicly discuss their romance, they did end the year in bed together — for a Funny or Die holiday video.

2012: Despite keeping mum on their romance, things were clearly getting serious. They rang in the new year together, and she was Gosling's plus-one when his mom received a bachelor's degree.

The Place Beyond the Pines came out in September at the Toronto Film Festival, and Gosling and Mendes appeared on the red carpet together. But it wasn't a big red carpet debut. She was actually sandwiched between Gosling and their co-star Bradley Cooper.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 07:  Actors (L-R) Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling attend
Eva Mendes poses between co-stars Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling at The Place Beyond The Pines premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 7, 2012. At this point, Mendes and Gosling had been dating for nearly a year. (Photo: Sonia Recchia/Getty Images) (Sonia Recchia via Getty Images)

Mendes talked about the awkward red carpet years later on the Kelly Clarkson Show, saying in 2019, "That's literally me going, 'I'm not in love with him. What? I'm not in love.' Cause we were trying to be very professional."

2013: Gosling wrote and directed the film Lost River, starring Christina Hendricks, which grew from trips he had taken to Detroit to film decaying buildings. The film began production this year and he cast Mendes as a cabaret dancer named Cat.

Gosling later told Sunday Style that Mendes's support was essential in making the film. "She hates credit and she'll even be mad that I'm giving her that credit. But she was very helpful in so many ways," he said.

2014: Tabloid magnets, Mendes joked about rumors that she and Gosling had secretly split during a February appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. "I'm not a big Valentine's Day person," she said. "I'll probably just order a deep dish and watch The Notebook or something." She also denied being pregnant...

However, she actually was pregnant. The couple welcomed their first daughter, Esmeralda, on Sept. 12. They were able to keep it a secret until Mendes's third trimester.

Gosling later said that for his "first Father's Day, Eva gave me a watch.The brand doesn't matter. The symbol was what mattered. It meant, you're on the clock now."

2015: They were together again at a public event for the Lost River premiere at SXSW, but once more kept a healthy distance of people between them onstage.

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 14:  (L-R) Composer Johnny Jewel, actors Eva Mendes, Saoirse Ronan, Ben Mendelsohn and Iain De Caestecker, and director/writer Ryan Gosling take part in a Q&A following the

Gosling wasn't shy praising Mendes in an interview with Hello! though, saying, “I know that I’m with the person I’m supposed to be with." He also said the only quality he looked for in a woman was "that she's Eva Mendes. There’s nothing else I’m looking for.”

2016: They became parents for a second time when Mendes gave birth to their second child, Amada, on April 29. She also kept that pregnancy under wraps, with the news only slipping out weeks before she gave birth. Welcoming their second child was an emotional time for Mendes, however, because she gave birth the same week she buried her brother, Juan Carlos Mendes, who died from throat cancer.

Gosling called Mendes a "dream mother" in an interview with GQ, saying, "Your whole life, you hear what it’s like to have kids, and all the clichés are true. I felt I knew that everything would be different, but until you experience that, there's no way to really know what people mean." As for his experience, "Eva’s the dream mother, and they’re dream babies, and it’s like a dream that I’m having right now. I’m dreaming it all. So I feel so lucky," he said. Father is "not something I really thought about, or even thought I wanted," he added. "I didn’t have a romanticized idea of it. It came about in a very surprising and kind of organic way. There was nothing kind of premeditated about it, you know. It just suddenly was: My life had changed. And thank God it did.”

Mendes talked about infusing her family's culture into their kids' lives, telling Latina magazine, "We’re constantly playing Cuban music. I speak to them in Spanish."

2017: La La Land star Gosling attended the Golden Globes, winning Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. Mendes skipped the event, she was home with the kids, but he gushed about his family on the red carpet, saying, "All the clichés are true. It's a dream. They're angels, and they have heaven eyes."

In his acceptance speech, he praised his "sweetheart" Mendes. "While I was dancing and playing piano and having one of the best experiences I’ve ever had on a film, my lady was raising our daughter, pregnant with our second, and trying to help her brother fight his battle with cancer," Gosling said. "If she hadn’t taken all that on so I could have this experience, it would surely be someone else up here other than me today. So, sweetheart, thank you. To my daughters, Amada and Esmeralda, I love you. And if I may, I’d like to dedicate this to the memory of her brother, Juan Carlos Mendes."

Mendes told Shape magazine, "What people don't know about me is that I love being home. Instead of hitting the red carpet, I'd rather be with our girls." She made an exception when Gosling hosted Saturday Night Live that year — and hit the after-party with him.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30:  Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes seen at Tao Restaurant for SNL after party on  September 30, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes seen at Tao Restaurant for an SNL after-party on Sept. 30, 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Robert Kamau/GC Images) (GC Images)

2019: Mendes talked to Women's Health about starting a family with Gosling, saying, "It was the furthest thing from my mind" at the time while she juggled movie roles, including Hitch and Ghost Rider. But then, “Ryan Gosling happened,” she said with a laugh. "I mean, falling in love with him. Then it made sense for me to have ... not kids, but his kids. It was very specific to him."

Mendes and Gosling started taking fewer film roles, focusing on family instead. However, she told E! News she'd welcome an opportunity to work with Gosling again, saying, "I really want to work with Ryan again. My most fun experience was being on set with him when he was directing. It was really so creatively satisfying being in it together and he's such an amazing director. I would love that experience again, for sure."

She also talked about how they parent together. “It’s so fun and beautiful and maddening,” she told Access Hollywood of parenting. “It’s so hard, of course, but it’s that feeling of ending your day and putting them to bed and Ryan and I look at each other like, 'We did it, we came out relatively unscathed.'"

Mendes also said she and Gosling share "the same" parenting style, telling Clarkson, “We’re very controlling. I think what the term is — we’re always laughing at these terms — I think we would be ‘bulldozing parents.’”

2020: Mendes again spoke about how having children was something she wanted with Gosling, but not before. "I was lucky enough to work my bum off for 20 years," she said on Nova 96.9's Fitzy & Wippa. "I never wanted babies before until I fell in love with Ryan, and it kind of worked out to where I was 40 and having my first baby."

Mendes responded to a fan commenting on Instagram that the Blade Runner 2049 star should take her out more: "Rather be home with my man than anywhere else in the world."

2021: Gosling talked about parenting during the pandemic in an interview with GQ, saying, "Our kids are young, so it was a tough time for them to be separated from other kids and not being able to see family and whatnot. So, we did our best to entertain them. I think Eva and I did more acting in quarantine than we have in our whole careers."

2022: Mendes especially gave more glimpses into their life together. She told Forbes she's "not an amazing cook. I leave that to Ryan. Hopefully it’s showing my girls that there are no gender-specific roles that one must take on and that we are partners in this — not just Ryan and I, but our children as well."

She revealed that he was her phone screensaver, and debuted a "de Gosling" tattoo on her wrist. She also fueled chatter that they secretly wed, referring to Gosling as "my husband" in an interview. Asked for clarification soon after ("Is he your husband? Are you two even married? What's the story there? ... There's a secret you two may have tied the knot"), she replied, "Who says we weren't already. I like to keep it all mysterious. I'm a very mysterious woman."

Mendes marked 10 years since The Place Beyond the Pines came out. When a fan commented that their googly eyes were genuine because they were falling in love, Mendes replied, "We had known each other before the film. Long, fun story actually," she teased, but didn't divulge more.

Gosling isn't on social media, but Mendes has been known to comment about his projects. She captioned a poster of The Gray Man, "My man making all my 1980’s action star dreams come true."

When the first look at his Ken in the Barbie movie was released, she used the hashtag "#Thatsmyken" to praise him. On The Talk soon after, Mendes said Gosling gave her the underwear from his Ken promo shot, adding, "I saw the photo and the 14-year-old in me was like, 'Ahhh. It’s a funny photo and he’s trying to be funny. So, it worked on all levels.”

2023: Gosling spoke to GQ about the Barbie film, which is out July 21 and stars Margot Robbie, and in the conversation shared the most he had to date about life with his love.

He said he started to act in fewer indie films and more studio projects after the birth of his daughters to have one big project a year versus many little ones "to spend as much time as I could with them." They live in the southern half of California and don't have a nanny for their kids. Their life is family-filled. The day before, family flew in for his daughter's birthday and he "made over 30 pizzas and over 40 espresso drinks." When he go on location for work, all four of them go as a unit. (Mendes has said that they have a home-schooling teacher when they are away.)

"When you asked me about Eva and kids, I think I said, ‘I didn’t think about kids until she told me she was pregnant,’" Gosling told the outlet. "That’s not really true. I didn’t want to overshare, but now I also don’t want to misrepresent. I mean, it’s true that I wasn’t thinking about kids before I met her, but after I met Eva, I realized that I just didn’t want to have kids without her. And there were moments on The Place Beyond the Pines where we were pretending to be a family, and I didn’t really want it to be pretend anymore. I realized that this would be a life I would be really lucky to have."

Gosling was asked when he first imagined himself as a father, and he replied when "Eva said she was pregnant." However, he added, “I would never want to go back, you know? I’m glad I didn’t have control over my destiny in that way, because it was so much better than I ever had dreamed for myself."

He said in his early life, "I was looking for her, you know?" Asked if he was conscious of that, he said, "No. But it all makes sense now." He also praised her wisdom, especially in parenting matters, saying, “I just lean on Eva. She knows what’s important, always. She just somehow knows. So if ever I’m in my head about it, I just ask her.”