Disney live-action remakes have become so commonplace that playing a Disney prince as a physical performance rather than an animated one has become commonplace. But that wasn’t always the way it worked. For a long time, James Marden was in something of a unique place in Disney history playing a prince in a Disney fairytale musical as himself in Enchanted. Although apparently Ryan Gosling once wanted a chance to do the same, and now I’m wondering how in the world this has never happened.
In a TikTok video recently shared by EW, Marsden tells the story of running into his Notebook co-stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams while he was filming his role in Enchanted. Apparently Gosling had seen the movie filming in Times Square, where Marsden was dressed in his princely outfit. But rather than poking fun at the scene, he admitted that playing a role like that was something he’d love to do.
I worked with Rachel McAdams on The Notebook, and she was dating Ryan Gosling for a minute. And I ran into them at a restaurant a few weeks after I was on the bus in Times Square. I said 'Hi' to them, and he goes 'Did I see you in tights on top of a bus in Times Square?' And I was like 'Uh, yeah, yeah' [claps]. And he was like 'Lucky you man, I would love to do that.' It was really nice.
Hang on, if Ryan Gosling wants to play a live-action Disney prince, then how in the world has this not happened yet? They even made a sequel to Enchanted, giving them a perfect opportunity to get Ryan Gosling and James Marsden playing live-action Disney princes together, and yet somehow we have been deprived of this. The world is not fair.
Come to think of it, there is a surprising lack of Disney in Ryan Gosling’s filmography, which is honestly quite impressive considering he essentially got his start as a member of the '90s-era Mickey Mouse Club. Gosling appeared in Remember the Titans and was expected to be part of the Guillermo del Toro Haunted Mansion movie that never happened. Other than that he hasn’t been part of Disney projects as an adult.
Having said that, his willingness and even interest in playing a role like a live-action Disney prince likely helps explain his decision to go all-in playing Ken in Barbie. Both Enchanted and Barbie were movies where characters from other worlds traveled to our real world, leading to hilarity as they learned to navigate the new world. Also Gosling got to sing as Ken, so really the only thing Gosling missed out on was the tights.
It feels like Disney needs to take note of this. Somewhere in some live-action Disney adaptation or a movie based on a Disney theme ride there is a role that Ryan Gosling would be perfect for, and he’d clearly consider the idea, there’s no fear he’d find the role too weird or silly. So let’s make this happen.