Cover Story

Ryan Gosling: How He Weaves His Magic Spell

01/09/2013 at 08:00 AM EST

Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes: All About Their Romance
Ryan Gosling

Eva Mendes

Eva Mendes

Devoted son, quirky leading man – and everyone's favorite fantasy boyfriend.

But how does Ryan Gosling stack up in his real-life romance with actress Eva Mendes?

The "hey girl" Internet obsession, 32, "is an incredibly sweet boyfriend," a Gosling source tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story. He and Mendes, 37, "get along so well because she's not needy or smothering," says another insider. "They just work."

Mendes is hardly the only one to fall under Gosling's spell. The former Mouseketeer – who brought his mom, Donna, as his date to the Jan. 7 Gangster Squad premiere in L.A. – is "funny and charming," says the film's director, Ruben Fleischer.





"When you're with him you feel different. He has a magnetic quality – larger than life."

And yes, he knows how to work his quirks – everything from self-designed tattoos to an enduring Disneyland fascination.

"Women love him because he's just kooky," says the insider. "He's definitely in touch with his childlike side."

For much more on Ryan – including photos of all his sexiest looks – pick up this week's PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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