He’s not “Ryan-san” but “Gos-sama” to his Japanese fans, and the tall, lanky 25-year-old from Canada is fast on his way to becoming the next Hollywood sensation (“the next River Phoenix!” gush the Japanese movie magazines). However, in person, Ryan Gosling is an unassuming, laid-back kind of guy who reputedly showed up in Narita with a well-worn backpack slung over his shoulder (after the promotional tour for “The Notebook,” he had plans to vacation in Thailand) and a three-day growth covering his usually smooth cheeks.

He stressed the fact that he is new to the fame and money game. “In fact, I don’t think I’m quite there yet,” he said, even though he was staying at the Park Hyatt.

Here’s what the modest actor had to say about “The Notebook,” and his first appearance in a big-budget Hollywood love story.

You have this reputation for playing quirky and difficult roles, but Noah is very straightforward. Did that cramp your style?

Yes and no. It’s true that when I get into a relationship I don’t express myself the way Noah does. On the other hand, he’s very much his own man. When he wants someone he lets her know it but he never gets down and begs and whines and talks his way into her heart. I really liked that about him.

What is your own assessment of the movie and what do you think is its appeal?

Well, you know, the world has gotten cynical. Relationships have gotten ever more so. I think people really love the idea of the one love that lasts a lifetime. Some people may laugh but deep down they’re probably a little envious. I think there’s something to be said for genuine emotions, lifelong commitments. We shouldn’t just throw stuff like that away. Other people feel it too, and the evidence is the success of a movie like this one.

Did you have to prep yourself to play Noah?

Yes, I lived and worked for three months with a furniture craftsman and I learned to make a table and work with my hands, and generally get the movements down so that I’d look natural working with wood. Some of the furniture you see in the movie came from our workshop. I had a really wonderful time. It was a learning experience that’s very hard to come by, these days. I slept in a sleeping bag, had regular work-hours, everything. For awhile there, I was a real apprentice.

What made you take the part of Noah?

Well, I saw that the director was Nick Cassavetes and that Gena Rowlands and James Garner were going to be in it. After that, I just had to try for the part. John Cassavetes is one of my greatest heroes and I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to work with the Cassavetes family.

Even though it was a big studio production?

Absolutely. I don’t think of myself as an “indie actor,” in fact I don’t like to categorize myself in any way just yet. I’m still at a point when I want to try everything out, and learn from the work, know what I’m capable of.

What did you think of your co-star Rachel McAdams?

She was inspiring. You know, she’s just like Allie in the movie: She laughs like that, she talks like that. She’s elated one minute and devastated the next. She’s a very real person. You tend to forget what real people are in this business but she was a jolt of reality, you know?

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