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Lars and The Real Girl Lars sits in a chair, with a potted flower

You wouldn’t think it by looking at him, but there was a time that Ryan Gosling didn’t have the movie star physique that he is most famous for rocking. More specifically, there was one specific time he actually let his normally svelte self go, and it was for the filming of the 2009 adaptation of The Lovely Bones, directed by Lord of the Rings mastermind Peter Jackson. There was just one problem: that role actually went to Mark Wahlberg in the final film.

Even stranger is the fact that it was those extra pounds Ryan Gosling packed on that got him fired from The Lovely Bones, and just mere days before shooting was supposed to start on the film. Though depending on who you talk to, the story isn’t as cut and dried as it may seem. This wasn't just a couple of pounds. Buckle up, as we’re about to take a deep dive into a story of a literary adaptation, its last-minute recasting, and a lot of Haagen-Dazs.

Lars and the Real Girl Lars stands at a grave, next to a woman

Ryan Gosling’s Role In The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones’ story centers around a young girl by the name of Susie Salmon, played by Saoirse Ronan. Murdered as a teenager, Susie sees how her death, and the investigation into the circumstances, affect several parties, including her family, her friends, and her murderer. Her father, Jack, can’t let her death go unsolved, and he starts to investigate a neighbor he suspects, played by Stanley Tucci.

This was the role that Ryan Gosling was originally going to play in the film, and as such he felt that the character would be overweight because of the depression he suffered after his daughters death. He made this admission in a piece that was covered by THR, where he told a story about how he showed up to the set of The Lovely Bones, and was fired almost immediately in favor of Mark Wahlberg.

Were this in the era of Stranger Things, the public may have been able to find love for a dad-bod crime fighter. But this was around a decade before that trend took off, so Ryan Gosling was a little ahead of his time.

Lars and the Real Girl sit together on the couch

How Ryan Gosling Had Put On All That Weight

Before we talk about just how this 60 lbs. of weight supposedly lost Ryan Gosling a starring role in The Lovely Bones, let’s talk about the man’s dedication to developing a literal dad bod. It all came down to a rather interesting behavior that Gosling cited when explaining his approach. As it turns out, whenever he was thirsty, he’d drink down a refreshing/melted bunch of Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

Seeing as ice cream just makes you more thirsty, it’s safe to assume that Gosling was pounding the pints of Haagen-Dazs as if they were unlimited Dasani water bottles on a hot day. Now’s a good time to mention this wasn’t Ryan Gosling going on an ice cream bender for the hell of it. This was purely an exercise in method acting and connecting with his character. Adding 60 pounds of weight -- as well as a beard -- to his look, could have made him look like more of a dad than he would have at 26 years old.

The Lovely Bones Jack Salmon smiling over a ship in a bottle

Why Ryan Gosling’s Role Went To Mark Wahlberg, According to Ryan Gosling

The recasting of Jack Salmon in The Lovely Bones ultimately comes down to two stories: that of Ryan Gosling himself, and that of the film’s co-writer/Peter Jackson’s wife, Fran Walsh. In Gosling’s version of events, he gained his 60 lbs of weight to match how he felt the character should look.

This was allegedly in the absence of communication with Jackson himself during the pre-production phase, which lead to what was labeled as a big misunderstanding that left him, in his own words, “fat and unemployed."

Interestingly enough, that wasn’t Ryan Gosling’s original story, as around the time he was dropped from the film he went on record as stating that it was more of an issue of his real age versus the age of the character. An even deeper twist in the story comes from the initial reports of his departure, which were labeled as him flat-out leaving the film over “creative differences," rather than being let go. Strangely, Fran Walsh would kind of agree with this original telling of the tale.

The Lovely Bones Jack and George standing in the backyard

Why Mark Wahlberg Was Given Ryan Gosling’s Role, According To Fran Walsh

When recounting her own version of events, which was obtained in the previously mentioned THR reporting, Fran Walsh’s experience with the mishap involving The Lovely Bones recasting was different than the second version of the story Ryan Gosling had told. Rather, the first version of events, which saw the La La Land actor mentioning he was not right for the role, was the narrative that Walsh would eventually support.

As her story goes, despite Ryan Gosling’s insistence that he was a bad fit, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson insisted that, with the right effects work, they could make him look the right age to portray Jack Salmon. If they could make Hobbits a thing, surely they could make Old Man Gosling a reality for The Lovely Bones.

However, by the time pre-production kicked in, and Gosling was stacked up against the rest of the cast, that perfect fit looked less than. Seeing that maybe their soon-to-be-former star was right, he was let go from The Lovely Bones and Mark Wahlberg was cast in a last-minute pivot. Talk about being careful about what you wish for.

The Lovely Bones Jack looks into a snowglobe

How Did The Lovely Bones Turn Out With Mark Wahlberg?

When The Lovely Bones was released into limited theaters in 2009, with a wider release in early 2010, it eventually went on to make $93.6 million in its total worldwide haul. That might sound good against a $65 million budget, but with a $70 million cost to purchase the rights for Paramount/Dreamworks, the box office story might not be as rosy as one would think.

However, the main points to take away are pleasant ones. Ryan Gosling and Mark Wahlberg both eventually went on to bigger and better things, and neither of their careers are hurting one bit. With Gosling pushing the envelope with roles in Lars and The Real Girl (which used his dad bod to good effect), Crazy Stupid Love (which sculpted him into an Adonis), and La La Land (which gave him various skinny ties), he built himself quite a bit of a reputation as a solid actor who could slot into pretty much any role.

Meanwhile, Mark Wahlberg moved onto a mix of prestigious films such as The Fighter and All The Money in The World, as well as big ticket blockbusters like the fourth and fifth Transformers films, and the Daddy’s Home franchise. So if there was really any effect on their careers, they were negligible at best.

Still, there is the memory of Ryan Gosling pounding Haagen-Dazs in his quest for method acting. With his dedication to the role of Jack Salmon in The Lovely Bones firmly in mind, that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough probably tasted sweeter than ever. He may not have kept the role, and eventually did lose the pounds, but the story is worth its price in pints of melted ice cream. Which have all drizzled away, like desserts in the rain.

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