Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes are a couple. That's what we know—and even that wasn't immediately clear.
Their existence as human beings is verifiable, but their status as a couple going on eight years together and the parents of two children is provable only via the sparest shreds of evidence, including a couple of birth certificates and a few spoken acknowledgements that have escaped from the actors' mouths while in a public setting.
Ryan and Eva started out as your average celebrity item in that they didn't exactly invite attention, but nor did they entirely eschew it. There were walks to grab coffee, some date nights and a trip to Disneyland, as well as two red carpet appearances. They even did a Funny or Die video together very early on, in 2011. Still, it all makes for pretty shallow water in the photographic well.
And in hindsight, those red carpet photos probably wouldn't even exist if they hadn't both been in a movie that needed promoting, the melancholy 2012 drama The Place Beyond the Pines.
That film, for all its tear-jerker elements, provided the setting in which our heroes met and fell in love before embarking on their determined quest to live their joint life out of the spotlight.
No cute couple shots on Instagram, no birth announcements by way of magazine covers, no premieres, no award shows, no nothing.
It's as if once they had found each other, they headed home, locked the door, rolled up the welcome mat behind them and made their house disappear. As though once they decided to get really serious, they decided that the public had had enough photo opportunities.
And while they haven't taken every pain to be left alone—they do still live in the Hollywood area, after all—Eva and Ryan have succeeded at being so low-key as a unit that they've managed to welcome two new human beings into this world in as quiet a fashion as possible despite Gosling's movie stardom and Eva remaining in demand for all things beauty and fashion. In the meantime, she has hit the brakes on acting while she spends more time with her family.
"I'm just so obsessed with my kids that I don't want to leave them," Mendes told E! News in September at an event for her Eva Mendes Collection for New York & Company in L.A."They're just still so little."
Her last movie was 2014's Lost River—directed by Gosling, so she didn't even have to miss any couple time.
Asked how she kept it all together as a working mom, she replied, "I don't feel like I have it balanced at all. I kind of have been figuring it out as I'm going along and it's just important to have a support system. I have my family, I have Ryan's family and that's just, like, invaluable to have family around supporting you."
So the sentiment has remained the same since she told Shape about two years ago, "What people don't know about me is that I love being home. Instead of being on the red carpet, I'd rather be home with my girls."
People kinda figured that out over the years, especially when Gosling hit all the 2017 award shows as a nominee and she was...well, at home, apparently, and watching TV.
But it's also become increasingly apparent that Eva and Ryan have one of the most secure, mutually supportive relationships around, because otherwise it might have been weird to see your partner go off night after night to red carpet events—particularly when Gosling's La La Land became the hottest thing in show business since Botox—and not felt a twinge of "hmm, maybe I should go to this one."
Instead, Gosling took to giving Mendes shout-outs from the spotlight, whether while hosting Saturday Night Live (though she was with him in New York that time and attended the after-party) or while giving his acceptance speech at the 2017 Golden Globes.
Gosling even took a little crap online (knowing him, he never actually saw it) for calling Mendes "my lady" and showering her with appreciation for holding down the home front while he was off making La La Land.
Some were annoyed that he didn't say her name (because she's famous, unlike the sound mixer's significant other, which makes it OK for the sound mixer to just say "my wife" or "my girlfriend"), while still others didn't like the imagined patriarchal implications of what he said, as if Mendes was putting "her man's" career first and her happiness second.
None of which was implied in Gosling's speech! (Not to mention, Mendes has said on multiple occasions that she is deliberately choosing to spend as much time with her kids as possible.)
And, he did say "Eva and Ezzy, I love you" as he was signing off from SNL in 2015, a pronounced tribute to Mendes and their little girl Esmeralda, born in 2014, who was joined by sister Amada in April 2016. He also, for the record, said her full name when, asked by Hello! Canada what drew him to his partner, he flat-out replied, "That she's Eva Mendes. There's nothing else I'm looking for."
"I know that I'm with the person I'm supposed to be with," Gosling said.
Mendes did go with Gosling to SXSW in March 2018, where he attended the premiere of his movie Song to Song, but you only knew that because she Instagrammed a pic of the theater.
Even after refocusing her attention away from making movies and more toward running her various businesses, she still was away from her daughters more than enough for her liking.
"I don't know how I found balance," Mendes told E! News in September 2017 while talking about her latest collection for he New York & Company signature line, which featured a newly expanded array of sizes to suit more body types. "I think it's like a day-to-day kind of struggle, you know. And then the guilt! Oh my God, nobody warns you about the guilt that you feel when you do work!...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.'"
While Mendes has publicly said Gosling's name even fewer times than he has mentioned hers (she at least knows his name is "Ryan") and traditionally sticks to business when she's doing appearances, she is inclined to share some adorable details about their kids. That's what mommies and daddies do.
"My older daughter who just turned 3, she's kind of oblivious that I do anything but be her mom, and I'm OK with that," she told us with a huge smile on her face.
As for the girls' personalities, Amada and Esmeralda are "pretty opposite," Mendes said. Smiling slyly, she added, "They're both angels, they're just different kinds of angels."
And as of September, they weren't budding fashionistas just yet. "They live in jammies, you know," Mendes told E! News. "They're still in diapers—well, one of them's still in diapers, so they're just being babies as they should be." They celebrated Esmeralda's birthday days beforehand with "typical family stuff," such as "cake, candles and gifts."
Esmeralda and Amada were also growing up bilingual, helped along by Mendes' parents.
"Esmeralda mostly speaks Spanglish right now. It's really cute," she told People in September 2017. "She's definitely bilingual, and it's really important for us to make sure that she's not only just familiar with the language, but also with the culture.
"My mom, who lives 15 minutes away, makes it is easy because she speaks to the girls in Spanish and cooks them Cuban food. And we're always listening to Cuban music. It really is a big part of our way of life. I wouldn't have it any other way. My dad, who has been here for 45 years and still doesn't speak English, is a real asset. It's so cool because now that I'm trying to make sure that my girls speak Spanish, it's like, 'Ok, Dad, take them,' because I know that all they're going to speak with him is Spanish."
Meanwhile, Mendes' Instagram remains a Gosling- and kid-free zone but she posts regularly about her clothing lines. And, naturally, she stays model-ready all the time to exhibit her various wares
The closest she has ever come to acknowledging her personal life on social media was her 2017 appraisal of Janelle Monáe's outfit on Golden Globes night: "Obviously this wasn't my favorite moment of the night [that would be Gosling's win]....But it was definitely my favorite style moment of the night. The stunning and talented@janellemonae is killing me with this look. So so so beautiful."
But this lack of mentioning each other by name, for the most part, is part of their deal.
Gosling even implied that Mendes didn't love it when he went overboard talking about her in public, saying in 2015, "She indirectly picked things that became very important to different people involved [with Lost River]. She hates credit and she'll even be mad that I'm giving her that credit. But she was very helpful in so many ways."
Promoting The Nice Guys in May 2016, when asked about the girl-to-boy ratio in his house recently rising to 3-to-1, Ryan confirmed that was at least true, adding, deadpan, "It's heaven. It's like walking through a field of flowers every day. I live with angels."
Coincidentally, the most recent sighting of the family of four was of the group walking out of a Hollywood market on Valentine's Day, Gosling and Esmeralda each toting big bouquets of flowers.
Now, the press could press Mendes and Gosling more when they get the chance, but it's likely that would result in each beating a retreat back to their fortress, which Mendes isn't that inclined to leave anyway.
"I'm sorry. I'm shutting down," she told The Edit, not unkindly, in 2013 when an interviewer ventured a question about her boyfriend. "I'm such a weirdo. I literally lose my ability to speak—and you were doing so well."
Her concerns about privacy only deepened once they became parents.
"Whether we like it or not, privacy is going to be very difficult for Esmeralda. I think it's unfair but that's our reality," Mendes told Violet Grey in 2014. "So Ryan and I decided early on to give her as much privacy as we could. And my pregnancy was the first opportunity to give her that.
"It's such an intimate time for the mother, too. I know that it seems all very innocuous when you're flipping through a tabloid at the doctor's office or see a photo of a pregnant lady online, but I find the media's 'bump watch' obsession to be both intrusive and stressful. So I made a decision to eject myself from it completely. I was like, 'Annnnd I'm out.'"
She wasn't kidding.
Perhaps once their daughters are a little older, Mendes may feel inclined to join Gosling on a red carpet again—or vice versa. For now, their activities of choice include kid-friendly hiking, walking the family dog, going out to breakfast and running errands. They could be just anybody going about their lives, minus the people so eager to take pictures of them in parking lots.
The couple did throw caution to the wind and let themselves be photographed hand-in-hand, just the two of them, going to and from the Saturday Night Live after party when Gosling last hosted in September 2017—the SNL bash being such a must-do that they didn't mind breaking their run of top-secret date nights.
At least that one time.
(Originally published March 9, 2017, at 4:21 p.m. PT)