Ryan's mother pulled him out of school because he was being bullied and seemed to have a hard time focusing in class. In fact, he was even nicknamed “Trouble” for his behavior. If he were growing up in today’s time, he probably would have been diagnosed with ADHD.
When asked why he was homeschooled he responded:
“Because I was getting into a lot of trouble at school. I couldn’t keep up. They were trying to start and put me in special ed classes. I remember I was playing chess in special ed and I was playing against a kid who was eating his queen.” [Source]
Ryan was only homeschooled for a year, but that year appears to have given him the time he needed to gain confidence in himself. Essentially he was unschooled!
"The year spent with her [his mother], watching movies, listening to Chet Baker and Billie Holiday, gave him, he says, ‘a sense of autonomy that I’ve never really lost’." [Source]
The impact of that year is evident in the Indie roles Ryan has chosen over the years, his acting ability, and the fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He discovered he wanted to be on TV as a child and auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club in 1993 at the age of twelve. Ryan got the job and starred along with other famous acts such as Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. However whenever he's asked about it, he downplays his role on the show stating that the other child prodigies were way more talented. He went on to star in several family-oriented TV shows and then set his sights on the big screen.
After his first breakout film role in the movie, The Believer, Ryan continued to seek out other characters that were gritty, intimate, and emotionally complex. Choosing complicated characters that weren’t just contemplating the meaning of life was important to him.
A director he worked with had this to say about his talent and integrity:
"If you look at him on screen, your eye automatically goes to him. Very few people are born with that. And very few actors who have that also have the guts to pursue the movies they want to do, rather than take the dream machine offered to them. It takes a lot of integrity to do the things he has done." -Derek Cianfrance
Ryan credits the time spent mostly with his mother and sister (his parents divorced) for giving him the ability to think like a woman, evidently informing his next acting role as Noah in The Notebook.
As for not taking himself too seriously, Ryan humbly deflects any comment of comparison between him and his mentor, George Clooney. He's also been known to work as a waiter in between acting jobs. When a reporter asked him about it, he said he likes to have a job and keep busy.
In 2008 the ‘Hey Girl’ memes began and really went viral in 2010, forever cementing his place in the hearts of women young and old. There are even some created with homeschooling themes that are pretty funny on Pinterest.
Currently, Ryan is raising a family of two girls with actress Eva Mendes. His latest successful movies include La La Land (2015) and Blade Runner 2049. Even now he is filming a new movie and continues to enjoy success as a one-time, homeschooler turned actor. How's that for a troublemaker?
Images found on Pinterest originally came from homeschoolingryangosling.tumblr.com/ which is now defunct.