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Gosling gained wider recognition in 2004 with a leading role in the commercially successful romance The Notebook.
For playing a drug-addicted teacher in Half Nelson (2006), he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, and he next played a socially inept loner in Lars and the Real Girl (2007).
he has shown a gift for finding arresting, powerful characters [and] can achieve just about anything.
Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal pondered "the ongoing mystery of how he manages to have so much impact with so little apparent effort.
Gosling portrayed a Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a getaway driver and he has described the film as a "violent John Hughes movie": "I always thought if Pretty in Pink had head-smashing it would be perfect".
He was dropped by his agent and initially found it difficult to secure work because of the "stigma" attached to children's television.
In 2005, Gosling appeared as a disturbed young art student in Stay, a psychological thriller film co-starring Naomi Watts and Ewan Mc Gregor. I'm just as proud if someone says, 'Hey, you made me sick in that movie,' as if they say I made them cry." Gosling next starred in 2006's Half Nelson as a drug-addicted junior high school teacher who forms a bond with a young student.
In an uncomplimentary review of the film, Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said that Gosling "like his fans, deserves better." Gosling was unfazed by the negative reaction: "I had a kid come up to me on the street, 10 years old, and he says, 'Are you that guy from Stay? To prepare for the role, Gosling moved to New York for one month before shooting began.
In 2003, Gosling starred in The United States of Leland as a teenager imprisoned for the murder of a disabled boy.
He was drawn to the role because it was unusual to find a character that was "emotionally disconnected for the whole film." Gosling came to the attention of a mainstream audience in 2004 after starring opposite fellow Canadian Rachel Mc Adams in the romantic drama film The Notebook, a film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' novel of the same name, directed by Nick Cassavetes.