‘Blue Valentine’: Why Michelle Williams Once Revealed That Her Love Scene With Ryan Gosling Was’Toxic’

Blue Valentine was a dark yet earnest portrayal of a crumbling marriage. Actors Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling garnered much attention for their performance, but that attention wasn’t without criticism.

One of the points of controversy for the film was the movie’s perceived graphic sex scenes. But Gosling’s co-star herself, Michelle Williams, also had a strong opinion towards her intimacy with Gosling. Looking back on those scenes, Williams couldn’t help describe them as ‘toxic’ for several reasons.

‘Blue Valentine’ director had Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling living like a real married couple

Michelle Williams posing in a black dress.
Michelle Williams | Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images for Turner

Blue Valentine received much praise for its authenticity. Williams’ and Gosling’s relationship is shown at its best and worse stages thanks to the performances of its two stars. But Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance went to extreme methods to make sure he brought the best out of his actors. This included having the pair live together like an actual married couple.

According to HuffPost, Gosling and Williams would live in a rural house in Pennsylvania together per Cianfrance’s instruction. They lived on a grocery budget of $200 and did chores around the house that married couples would do.

“Mundane domestic tasks have a way of really stagnating two people and deteriorating something that’s beautiful,” Cianfrance said.

Cianfrance also felt that their living situation brought real emotions out of his two actors for the film.

“They’re great actors, but they aren’t faking it either,” Cianfrance continued. “If something gets said or done that creates bad feelings it’s not going to get forgotten. But I’d have them go to the family fun park after a day of fighting. They would have to go out to the real world and put a smile on.”

Why Michelle Williams once called her sex scenes with Ryan Gosling toxic

Both Williams and Gosling had strong opinions towards Blue Valentine’s provocative sex scenes. Michelle Williams shared with W Magazine that there were aspects of filming that were difficult.

“We never rehearsed anything, and those were really dark days,” Williams said. “We shot the beginning of our relationship first, and it was fun and alive. Then we did the sex scenes and it was…toxic. Ryan and I had stopped relating to each other as Ryan and Michelle. Those scenes took forever.”

After filming those scenes, Williams needed a bit of catharsis as she traveled back home.

“I had a long drive from set to home each night, and I would roll down all the windows and turn up the music as loud as I could and hang my head out the window like a dog and scream. It was my escape,” she shared.

Ryan Gosling also revealed how and why those scenes were difficult for him.

“It was hard…a lot of times actors can trick people into thinking something is happening when it’s not happening, and we had to call ourselves out on anything that didn’t feel honest,” Gosling said.

For The Notebook actor, that honesty needed to be present to achieve authenticity between himself and Williams.

“All of these things are artificial, and you have to strip that away if you’re going to achieve a sense of intimacy. In real life sex is messy, and we wanted to get at that wonderful messiness,” he continued.

It took Michelle Williams six years to prepare for this film


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Michelle Williams went through a unique preparation process for the film. When Rotten Tomatoes asked Williams what she did to get ready for the role, the Venom star didn’t hold back.

“There are a lot of answers to that question,” Williams said. “The first one is, when I thought about making this movie I said to Ryan, ‘You know that game of trust, when you fall backward into somebody’s arms? That’s the first exercise that I want to do with you — over and over and over again.’

She continued to share just how long she’d been thinking about and preparing for the script.

“And in some way — quietly, without even sometimes knowing it myself – I’d been preparing for this film for six years, because I read this script for the first time when I was 21 or 22, and then went to make the movie when I think I was 28 [the film was completed in 2009],” Williams confided. “So it’s been in the back of my mind; some part of my brain has been toying with it for six years or so.”