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Ryan Gosling’s Blond Hair for ‘Barbie’ Movie Sparked Tag Heuer Ad Campaign Debate


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At a dinner and reception at a private home in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, actor Ryan Gosling said that signing on as a brand ambassador for watchmaker Tag Heuer “has just been an amazing partnership so far.” That includes wearing a Carrera Three Hands timepiece in the new Netflix film The Gray Man, as well as appearing in a just-released ad campaign for Tag Heuer tied to the movie.

But in a toast before the dinner, both the actor and Tag Heuer CEO Frédéric Arnault talked about how Gosling’s hair, which he dyed blond for a different role — as Ken in the upcoming Barbie movie from director Greta Gerwig — presented a quandary for shooting the ads tied to The Gray Man. In the latter, in which Gosling plays a spy known as Sierra Six, the actor has brown hair.

“There was some debate internally because when we shot these pictures, Ryan was blond for another movie he was shooting,” said Arnault, adding that the discussion pivoted between “OK, do we keep him blond?” or “Do we stay very strict to The Gray Man?” Ultimately the blond color won out. “We thought, ‘OK, we have to be authentic with the way we shot it, and it’s not meant to be a strict copy of The Gray Man. It’s a different campaign.”

Gosling then chimed in that “we had a lot of conversations around it [the blond hair],” adding that, “Secretly, I get a lot of joy out of it because I know that The Gray Man would be Ken’s favorite movie, so it warms my hearts to see Ken in these pictures.”

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Gosling in the new campaign from Tag Heuer.

TAG Heuer

The actor inked his ambassador deal with Tag Heuer, his first-ever with a brand, last year, making appearances since then as the face of the maker’s Carrera Three Hands, which he calls his “personal favorite.” He said that he likes the Carrera — one of the watch world’s most iconic and recognizable timepieces going back to its introduction in 1964 — because “It’s practical…and really very elegant. It wears easy, and it’s easy to read.” He added, “You don’t want it to take time when you look at it. You want it to just give it to you.”

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The Tag Heuer Carrera Three Hands in steel which Ryan Gosling wears in the new film ‘The Gray Man.’

TAG Heuer

Many of the reasons why he likes the Carrera as his everyday watch are also why it works in The Gray Man, according to the actor. He describes his Sierra Six spy character as “an analog hero in a digital world. He doesn’t have any gadgets. He doesn’t rely on tech. He just has his wit and his pragmatism and human ingenuity. He’s very pragmatic.”

The all-mechanical 39mm steel Carrera seen in the film mirrors those traits and “you can wear it with anything,” which was important, said Gosling, because of Sierra Six’s varied costumes, which range from a red suit to a track suit and an acid-washed look. “This character goes through a lot. It’s like nine action set pieces in this movie and he’s on the run throughout the film. So it’s like multiple different identities in a way…but the watch stays the same. With this film…we were trying to create a fresh take on a spy character, so I felt this particular watch was helpful in doing that,” said Gosling.

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Ryan Gosling at The Gray Man dinner wearing a Tag Heuer Carrera.

Krista Schlueter

Gosling — who said that the first-ever watch that he bought was a Hulk Hogan Casio purchased with “paper-route money” — also noted that originally another brand had been on board to provide watches for the film. Without naming the brand, Gosling recalled that he had tried one of this other maker’s watches and decided it wasn’t a fit for the role. “It was way too big. It was really impractical. It just felt like something a spy would never wear.”

The Gray Man, directed by The Russo Brothers, is due out in theaters July 15 and streaming July 22 on Netflix. “It’s my first real action film,” says Gosling.

As to why so many watches have had prominent roles in action films — from the Bond series to Top Gun and The Expendables — Gosling said, “You know, I think because every second is a life-or-death moment in the world of these movies. It’s all about precision, and timing is everything.”

In addition to Gosling and Arnault, guests at the dinner included Joe and Anthony Russo and such actors as The Gray Man co-star Jessica Henwick, Bridgerton‘s Simone Ashley and Mamoudou Athie (Jurassic World: Dominion).

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Joe Russo, Ryan Gosling, Tag Heuer CEO Frédéric Arnault and Anthony Russo at the dinner for ‘The Gray Man.’

Krista Schlueter

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