Gosling plays the Hollywood stuntman role that Majors originated in a new movie remake
Ryan Gosling prepared for the role of Colt Seavers by talking to the original stuntman himself.
“He came out to Australia and I had an opportunity to talk to him and spend the day with him,” Gosling tells PEOPLE of Majors, 84, while on the red carpet at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Saturday night, where he received the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film. “It was pretty great.”
The Barbie star says that he and Majors, who played Seavers for five years on TV, are “text buddies” and still keep in touch. “It's pretty cool.”
“He's so funny and he's very lovely and gracious,” Gosling adds of the veteran actor.
In the action-comedy, which premieres in theaters on March 1, Gosling stars alongside his former flame Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) as she ropes him into helping her film an explosive sci-fi Western after the original leading man (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) mysteriously disappears.
Gosling also confirmed to PEOPLE that the show’s theme song, “The Unknown Stuntman,” will be featured in the film.
Though Majors originally sang it for the show, Gosling will not be singing it this time around, though he teases: “A pretty great artist sings it, so I'm excited for people to hear it.”
David Leitch directed the movie, and told Vanity Fair that it’s “a love letter to stunts and the blue-collar crews that make these movies come to life.”
A former stuntman himself — for Matt Damon in The Bourne Ultimatum and Brad Pitt in Fight Club — Leitch wanted the film to be as authentic as it could be. He said the crew “explored doing old-school high falls into airbags, and jumping a car as far as we could, and rolling a car as many times as we could.”
The role was a perfect one for Gosling, Leitch noted, because he has “done action, he’s done romance, he’s done comedy, but this movie allowed him to do all of it.”
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The actor thanked Carell and Gerwig for their kind words, and SBIFF for the "very special honor." He also gave a sweet shout-out to his wife, Eva Mendes — whom he called "the girl of my dreams" — and their "two dream children," Esmeralda, 9, and Amada, 7.
"I dreamed of one day making movies, and now, movies have made my life a dream," Gosling said.
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