Sonia Recchia/Getty Images
Not that it’s news that she’s sprung on him—they’ve been partners for almost a decade and have two daughters together, after all—but the first rule of their relationship for years was that they didn’t talk about their relationship.
“That’s literally me going, like, ‘I’m not in love with him! I’m not in love with him! What? I’m not in love,'” Mendes amusingly recalled on The Kelly Clarkson Show last month as a photo was shown of her and Gosling together at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, where they had a movie to promote and a secret to poorly keep.
And when Clarkson fawned over how great Mendes looked in the shot, Mendes leaned over the couch, rested her chin in her hand, and sighed, “Look at him, though.”
So…romance alive after eight years—check!
North Woods / Splash News
They do go out—parties and restaurants are still fun, and it’s practically mandatory in L.A. that actors hike—but the couple’s visible public life since they met on the set of The Place Beyond the Pines, which premiered at TIFF in 2012 and hit theaters in 2013, takes up a very tiny portion of the Cloud.
Though they mixed business with pleasure early on, once they had moved beyond the Pines, Mendes and Gosling quickly reverted to being one of the most elusive pairs in Hollywood, giving up nothing of their private world. Knowing the cat would be out of the bag the second she stepped outside, Mendes steered clear of cameras for months leading up to the births of Esmeralda in 2014 and Amada in 2016, meaning no one outside the family’s inner circle even knew that she was pregnant until about seven months along, both times.
Throughout, while he was as affable and meme-able as always, and sweetly acknowledged his children’s arrivals, Gosling was reluctant to go into detail about Mendes.
“I know that I’m with the person I’m supposed to be with,” he tersely told ET Canada in 2015. Asked what it was that drew him to her, he replied, “That she’s Eva Mendes. There’s nothing else I’m looking for.”
They were on the same page about what they were looking for in an S.O., meanwhile, because Mendes told Women’s Health this spring that having kids was “the furthest thing from [her] mind,” until she met the one person who fit the bill.
“Ryan Gosling happened,” she explained. “I mean, falling in love with him. Then it made sense for me to have…not kids, but his kids. It was very specific to him.”
Then, of course, she was happily all in.
Ironically, in 2011, Gosling told The Times in London that he’d actually like to be making babies, but wasn’t, so he’d just keep doing movies for the time being. He had Crazy, Stupid, Love; Drive and The Ides of March all come out that year.
“When someone comes along, I don’t think I’ll be able to do both and I’m fine with that,” he added. “I’ll make movies until I make babies.”
And yet somehow, while making babies he also made The Big Short, The Nice Guys and La La Land, while Mendes hasn’t been in a movie since he directed her in Lost River in 2013.
But make no mistake, that’s what Mendes wanted, and she has relished being a stay-at-home mom.
“I don’t like saying ‘take me away,’ but essentially that’s what work does,” she told Latina in the summer of 2016. “I think it can be very, very healthy if it’s something that feels worthwhile.”
But “right now I feel very fortunate to be home with my kids. I feel so lucky, and I’m just taking advantage of that.”
Still, Gosling, close to the vest as he may play it, astutely thought to give credit where it was due in a very public setting.
Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
“I would like to try and thank one person properly and say that while I was singing and dancing and playing piano, and having one of the best experiences I ever had on a film,” Gosling said in January 2017 while accepting his Golden Globe for lead actor in a musical or comedy film for La La Land, “my lady was raising our daughter, pregnant with our second and trying to help her brother fight his battle with cancer.
“If she hadn’t taken all that on so that I could have this experience, it would surely be someone else up here other than me today—so,” he looked intently into the camera, “sweetheart, thank you. To my daughters, Amada and Esmeralda, I love you.” (And then he dedicated his award to the memory of Eva’s brother, Juan Carlos Mendes, who died in April 2016, 12 days before Amada was born.)
In the moment, that was an unprecedented glimpse behind closed doors from Gosling, who since he got together with Mendes has usually preferred to talk about literally anything other than his private life in interviews. Asked about Christmas presents for Mendes and the kids in 2016 on Ellen, Gosling charmingly pivoted to saying he wanted to get a new Roomba to help out his existing Roomba, because he felt so bad that the first one was always tirelessly cleaning.
So for the most part, they can rest assured that their love story remains all their own.
Adam Christopher /NBCUniversal
Now that their girls are 5 and 3, however, Mendes has seemingly been inclined to talk about family life a little more these days than she did when she was a new mom.
Which makes perfect sense. Mommies got to talk about Mommying, after all.
“Oh the joys of motherhood. No this isn’t a beautiful instagram shot of my food. It’s my reality,” Mendes wrote last month alongside a picture of a scramble still in the pan. “Not having breakfast until lunchtime and not having the time and the decency to serve myself on a plate. When did I start eating straight from the pan you ask? Oh you didn’t ask. I’ll tell you anyway. About 4 years ago. My oldest is 5. Do the math … Any straight from the pan eating mamas out there? Can we start a support group?”
Whether she was joking or not, the urge to connect with other moms is the real deal.
Though Mendes’ Instagram has remained a Ryan-and-kids-free zone (the clip she posted from the Kelly Clarkson Show showing the TIFF pic of them may be the only non-movie photo of Gosling on her official page), it’s their daughters who have helped crack the window into the couple’s private world—because what parents can keep from sharing anecdotes about the gamut of child-raising experiences, from spit-ups and sleep schedules to Halloween and birthday parties, for long?
Clarkson asked when Mendes realized that she had picked, between acting and full-time motherhood, “the way harder job?”
“Every day,” she replied. “And people are so sweet, they really try to, like warn you, prep you when you’re pregnant–but nobody can prep you. Nobody. And nobody told me it was really going to be a job. And a job that I needed an incredible amount of skills for—like in different areas! A chauffeur, a cook, a personal assistant to an abusive boss,” she deadpanned. “And they’re not grateful! Oh my god,” she turned to the audience, “do they get grateful? Does it happen at some point?”
And so Mendes and Clarkson, also a mother of two, had a good laugh about the joys and bittersweet hilarity of parenting.
“And any other profession you would need to take a test, or pass tests,” Mendes added. “The only test I had to pass was a pregnancy test.”
Andrew Toth/Getty Images for New York & Company
Asked what was the most difficult part of it all? Mendes said with a smile, “The amount of snacks I have to carry with me all day long!…I even need to take food in the car to go to the market!”
Clarkson was feeling all of this. “We are going to get along so well on this playdate,” she marveled.
So yes, there may be in the near future a meeting of the Clarkson-Blackstock and Mendes-Gosling children. But, as both ladies apologized to each other profusely for the reason they had yet to have that playdate, they’re both super busy.
Mendes just celebrated the launch of her New York & Company Holiday Collection, the latest offering from her signature line, which she is also the face of—and we wanted to know if her daughters have inherited their mom’s interest in fashion yet. (Though variety is not yet the spice of life: she revealed to Clarkson that Esmeralda and Amada have wanted to dress up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz every year for Halloween so far.)
Clothing-wise, “I kind of let them do anything,” Mendes told E! News during a sneak peek at her collection held at La Descarga, a Cuban-themed nightspot in Los Angeles.
“If they want to wear jammies to dinner, I let them do that,” she shared, “as long as its appropriate to the weather outside. I kind of let them do whatever they want when it comes to how they’re dressed. I never force them into a dress, I never do that. I just don’t.
“Because,” Mendes continued, “I remember that feeling and I didn’t like it! And my mother forced me into dresses all the time—I mean, not physically forced.” She laughed. “But she’d always be like, ‘you have to wear a dress for this!’ And I was like, ‘I don’t want to wear a dress for that!’ So I don’t push the dress, I just kind of go, ‘What do you guys want to wear? Great.’ Or, ‘no it’s too cold you can’t wear that.’ That’s where I get strict.”
Mendes’ mom (who is also Eva) remains one of her closets confidantes, meanwhile, and in hindsight the designer appreciates the style aesthetic that Eva Pérez Suárez was trying to pass on to her as a child.
“We didn’t have any money, so she was very limited,” Mendes recalled. “But she never left the house without her hair set, lipstick—old school, you know? Always looked put together but really it was a hand-me-down or something she had for 20 years already, so she’d make it work by accessorizing it.”
And now Mendes’ business is helping women look—and, perhaps even more importantly, feel—put together.
She and her mom are teaching her girls Spanish, and her dad “still doesn’t even speak English,” Mendes said, so Esmeralda and Amada pretty much have to practice their español with their abuelo.
“He’s been here for so long!” Mendes, whose parents emigrated from Cuba to Miami, where she was born, told E! “I remember thinking it was uncool when I was in high school and now I’ve totally crossed over and I’m like, ‘Dad, this is so cool. This is pretty bad ass!'”
They usually celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas locally, and once again the plan is to have Gosling’s family visit from Canada.
“And it’s just a big fun party,” Mendes described a typical Gosling-Mendes holiday extravaganza. “It kind of always feels like a holiday because we get together so often…but the traditions are pretty basic. It’s just a lot of food, maybe someone gets mad at someone else, maybe someone ends up crying—and definitely ends up making up—and then we’re celebrating.”
She laughed at the thought. “That’s pretty much it. And usually it’s me and my sisters that fall into that category. Or me and my mom—I’ll tell my mom she can’t have a second serving and then she’ll get mad at me…She can’t have certain things for health reasons so I’ll let her have a little bit and then that’ll start something. But it’s fun, it’s what I call ‘fun fighting.'”
More “like bickering,” Mendes added. “There’s always some kind of that, or someone shows up super late and someone gets mad at them because they missed the first portion of dinner, but it’s so fun. It’s just part of the holiday drama.”
BlayzenPhotos / Splash News
So that is the sort of stuff that goes on behind closed doors at Ryan and Eva’s house. We won’t hold our breath for a shot of the whole family around the Thanksgiving table or wearing matching pajamas next to the Christmas tree (Mendes thinks matching for the holidays is adorable, but she hasn’t yet had them do it—so don’t worry, you’re not missing it), but we are certainly ready when they are.
Gosling has been taking some time off since playing Neil Armstrong in Damien Chazelle‘s First Man, which likely came in handy while Mendes was busy readying her new collection. Rumors were sparked (per Cinemablend) when he was spotted having lunch with Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, who’s attached to direct the next Thor movie. But we’ll cross that Marvel Universe bridge when we come to it. (P.S. Waititi is also attached to make Flash Gordon, so…)
In the meantime, Mendes and Gosling can’t help that they simply like being at home with each other and their children.
Mendes has talked about how agonizing it could be just leaving for work for the day because, as much as she enjoys it, those are hours spent away from the kids.
“Oh my God, nobody warns you about the guilt that you feel when you do work!” she told E! News back in 2017. “I’m all for, obviously, taking care of myself—that’s how I can take care of them, of course—but that guilt that’s just kind of always there…” She sighed. “It’s like, ‘Ugh, this is going to be there forever now.'”
It seems, as the girls have got older, that she and Gosling have started feeling less as if they’re just frantically trying to keep two humans clean and fed, rinse, repeat—but it’s a process.
“We’re just starting to get out of survival mode,” Mendes told Women’s Health this spring.
So much so, in fact, that Mendes—so prolific in the early ’00s in the likes of Hitch, 2 Fast 2 Furious and We Own the Night—told E! News this week that she’s open to getting back into the game, if she found the right project.
“I just think now that I’m older and that I’m a mother, I would obviously choose my roles differently,” she said. “I’m just a walking example for these girls and I take that very seriously, so it would have to be something that feels appropriate and that would still be fun for me. It’s a lot of parameters, you know? But yes, I would be very excited.”
And Mendes is 100-percent down to work with Gosling again. “My most fun experience was being on set with him when he was directing,” she said. “It was really so creatively satisfying being in it together, and he’s such an amazing director. I would love that experience again, for sure.”
Still wants to be around him all the time after eight years…
—With reporting by Alli Rosenbloom