Skip to content

Ryan Gosling Called Sandra Bullock "One of the Greatest Girlfriends" Despite 16-Year Age Gap

They dated for two years after meeting on set in 2001.

The early 2000s saw Hollywood sizzle with a surprising romance between one of its biggest stars and a much-younger up-and-comer. That couple was Sandra Bullock and Ryan Gosling, who found love on set despite an age gap of more than 16 years. Although the relationship didn't last, the two have looked back fondly on it and praised each other in the decades since they parted ways. Read on to learn why Bullock said dating Gosling changed her life, and the kind words The Notebook star shared about his older ex.

RELATED: John Mayer Said He Broke Up With Jennifer Aniston Over Their Age Gap.

They met playing opposite each other as criminal and cop.

Bullock and Gosling met while filming Murder by Numbers in 2001. At the time, the 37-year-old Bullock was coming off '90s hits including Speed and A Time to Kill. In this thriller, she was playing a homicide detective pursuing two wealthy high school students who try to outwit her by committing the perfect murder. The 21-year-old Gosling—then best known for appearing alongside fellow breakout stars Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club—was cast alongside Michael Pitt as one-half of the film's deviant high school murder duo.

Despite their 16-year age gap, Gosling and Bullock became close enough during filming that Gosling felt comfortable spicing up a scene by adding an unscripted lick of Bullock's face. ("He was like, 'Please don't be mad at me when the scene's over,'" she recalled in a 2002 Entertainment Weekly article. "It was so disturbing and nice. I was like, 'Lick away!")

Although they never publicly confirmed their romance, the two attended the film's premiere in Cannes together hand in hand. After more than a year of being photographed with the babyfaced actor, Bullock finally let it slip in 2003 that they were not "just friends" (as she'd often said of ex Matthew McConaughey during their relationship). "If you were to add the word 'just,' it would probably be a bit of a lie," she told Cosmopolitan. "So I'd say we're friends."

RELATED: The Real Reason Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling Won't Ever Walk a Red Carpet Together Again.

They dated for two years.

Ryan Gosling and Sandra Bullock in 2001
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

The two ultimately dated for around two years, from 2001 to 2003, before parting ways. Years later, Gosling reflected on their breakup without bitterness, blaming life in the industry for making it difficult to maintain relationships.

"Show business is the bad guy," Gosling told The Times in 2011, as quoted in The Independent. "When both people are in show business, it's too much show business. It takes all of the light, so nothing else can grow."

Bullock said Gosling taught her an important lesson.

Sandra Bullock and Ryan Gosling in 2002
Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic

Although the romance didn't last, Bullock admitted that dating a younger man had its benefits. In her 2003 Cosmo interview, she shared that Gosling had taught her an important lesson: "To chill." The driven actor went on to share that the man-who-would-be Ken had shown her to remember to stop and smell the roses. "I live my life at a manic pace, and he's taught me to disregard all that isn't important," Bullock explained. "He's like a little Buddha."

RELATED: Harry Hamlin Claims Ex-Wife Nicollette Sheridan Cheated on Him With Michael Bolton.

Gosling said no one could top her.

Michael Pitt, Sandra Bullock, and Ryan Gosling in 2002
Evan Agostini/ImageDirect

Gosling in turn seemingly has nothing but good things to say about his famous ex.

"I had two of the greatest girlfriends of all time," he told The Times in 2011, referring to Bullock and his The Notebook co-star Rachel McAdams. "I haven't met anybody who could top them."

That was a sentiment that presumably only lasted until he became involved with the "girl of [his] dreams" and long-time partner Eva Mendes, who he met on the set of the 2012 film A Place Beyond the Pines. He now shares two daughters and a private life with the 2 Fast 2 Furious star, who is six years his senior. Bullock, meanwhile, went on to adopt two children, who she raised with late boyfriend Bryan Randall alongside his daughter from a previous relationship. The Lost City star was with Randall from 2015 until his death from ALS in August 2023.

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
Filed Under