By Jason Bramwell
On June 4, scores of people in downtown Detroit posed for photographs with a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt, jeans, and sunglasses who they thought was Academy Award–nominated actor Ryan Gosling. Gosling is in Detroit filming his directorial debut, How to Catch a Monster.
But the man who was the subject of all those photos was not the thirty-two-year-old Hollywood star. He's a twenty-five-year-old accountant named Doug who has worked in transfer pricing at Ernst & Young LLP in Detroit for the past two years. Doug, who requested that his last name not be published, posed as "Lyin' Ryan" as part of a prank by Detroit radio station 95.5 FM's "Mojo in the Morning" show.
Doug told AccountingWEB that he has been mistaken for the Canadian-born actor "at least once every day for probably the past six years or so."
He was recently listening to "Mojo in the Morning" in his car on the way to work when the subject of man crushes was discussed. One of the radio personalities on the show, Spike, who is known for his phone and street pranks, said his man crush was Ryan Gosling. As a joke, Doug contacted Spike through Twitter and sent him a photo of himself, showing his resemblance to the actor.
"I thought that would be the end of it", Doug said. "But he contacted me directly about this idea and thought it would be great. We spent a few weeks planning for it, and it all came together last week."
Flanked by a crew of "bodyguards", Doug, Spike, and other members of the radio station walked around Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit, where Ernst & Young's office is located, and the campus of Wayne State University during lunchtime last Tuesday to see how many people would think Lyin' Ryan was the real Ryan.
During the three hours he played Lyin' Ryan, Doug posed for more than 600 photos, according to a radio station estimate.
"There were some skeptical people, but pretty much everyone I posed for a picture with thought I was Ryan Gosling. We never said that I was; we just let people believe what they wanted to believe", Doug said. "Because he's filming in Detroit, that's why it played into our hands so well. He shoots about a mile or two away from where our office is located. He's been spotted here and there, but he has kept a low profile. I think that's why people were more willing to believe it. Word got out pretty quickly."
Doug said he spoke briefly to many of the people he took photos with, but he didn't want to talk too much so he wouldn't spoil the prank.
"We obviously don't have the same voice, so it would be pretty easy to give it away", Doug said. "The radio station did a pretty good job of limiting the amount that I had to talk to people. But I talked to pretty much everyone – just a few words, no long conversations."
Doug said he hasn't personally heard from Gosling or his representatives since the prank went viral June 6.
"I know the radio show was going to try to reach out to him. TMZ was also going to try to get us in touch", he said. "The only thing I've heard is that he's apparently seen the video that 'Mojo in the Morning' made. The whole thing has a good sense of humor about it."
Doug said he has received positive feedback from his coworkers at the Big Four firm about his participation in the prank.
"My immediate supervisors knew about it, and they thought it was pretty funny", Doug said. "I did it mostly on my lunch hour. I came in early to work and stayed late, so there was no issue there. There are a lot of people in the office who knew about it. They thought it was kind of funny too."
Doug said he has no plans of reprising his role as Lyin' Ryan in the future.
"I work right in Campus Martius, so now when I go to lunch, I have to cross through [the park], and I see a lot of the same people there. They stop me and we talk about it", he said. "Since the prank has gone viral, it's gotten pretty big. It's been pretty hectic."