Ryan Reynolds is a Canadian boy who’s made good. He’s a superhero as Deadpool and a leading man in other blockbuster movies.
The latest is Free Guy. Reynolds stars as Guy, a non-playable character in the video game Free City. When Guy defies his program, he becomes a celebrity in the gaming world.
Reynolds, who also produced Free Guy, spoke with reporters in a Zoom press conference. Here’s what he had to say about his latest funny movie character. Free Guy is in theaters Aug. 13.
Q: What has it been like stepping into a very different, wholesome type of hero?
RR: My default is just pure trash on the inside. So, for this, it’s just slightly new for me. There’s a movie that I love called Being There starring Peter Sellers. That was the first foothold I had into this character and this world. There’s something really wonderful about playing a character who’s kind of naive and innocent. So there’s something really fun about exploring everything with new eyes, which is what this character gets to do, and sort of filtering that through the prism of comedy and occasionally cynicism, and all sorts of other things. I love a playing character who is sort of stepping out of the background into this kind of new, new person.
Q: How did you find this original story and bring it to the screen?
RR: Well, I read the script. [Director] Shawn [Levy] and I had met about another [movie]. We had a couple of close calls. We were close to working together and I read the script. Then I sent it to Shawn, and the next thing I know, Shawn was in my living room in New York. We were talking about this world and how we could build it, how we can make changes that would make it relevant and speak to the world that we’re living in now. It just sort of went from there. It’s hard to make a new movie. It’s hard to make something that isn’t based on some pre-existing IP or a comic book or a sequel in some regard. It’s very challenging. So you get the script to a place that you feel like it’s perfect or it’s great and then you have to kind of make it 30 percent better somehow because you don’t have any ability to rely on a pre-existing knowledge or fan base. So you really have to kind of go out there and prove it the old-fashioned way. That was a challenge that, thank God, Shawn and every single cast member was up for. It was nerve wracking and it continues to be nerve wracking, even now as we’re done and entering the world.”
Q: You have great chemistry with Lil Rel Howery as Buddy, another Free City character. Did you and Lil Rel work together on Guy and Buddy’s friendship?
RR: I think Rel and I, and our respective characters live at this intersection of a little bit on the page, a little bit in the moment. But I think that’s kind of the case for every single person. Everybody is very adaptive, very good at adding and creating and building and three-dimensionalizing their characters and their work. Rel and I just immediately clicked from the moment we met. I was a huge fan of his. So it was great to get out there and mess around and play, form that bond and put it up on the-on the big screen.
Q: Will you stay friends after this?
RR: As soon as this camera’s off, it’s over, Rel. No, look, we all hope that we get to do this again, either in this form of a sequel or something else. We’re lucky. A couple people I’ve got the very fortunate opportunity to work with multiple times. I’m hoping that we all get to, if it’s not in another Free Guy movie, it’s another movie, another form.
Q: When you’re playing the NPC, how hard was it to ignore everything happening around you?
RR: I have three daughters, six and under, two of which have a flame thrower. So I am impervious to any of that as a distraction. I can actually concentrate on just about anything, even when an entire building is on fire.
Q: Why did you choose Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” for a song in the movie?
RR: In the earliest draft, we’d written in The Outfield’s “Your Love.” It ended up not just fitting right. It’s a great song, but not fitting right. But then Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy “just came like a lightning bolt. It was like an engine for so much of the movie.
Q: What was your favorite video game?
RR: Oh boy, I loved Mike Tyson’s Punch Out as a kid. We used to quote “back in the fight, back in the fight.” I have three older brothers so there was just constant, messy stabbing deaths all over my house, all the time. So we were always sort of at war. It’s interesting to me because everybody’s sort of said, “This is a movie based on a video game, or a video game movie.” I really don’t think Free Guy is a video game movie. It’s sort of like saying, you know, Titanic is a movie about boatsmanship. It’s not. It’s a movie about so much more, but I love the narrow target we had to hit to create a world that felt so authentic to gamers and then still sort of smuggle this other story into that was a pretty special kind of thing.