People: Ryan Reynolds Interview
Ryan Reynolds wears his love of Vancouver on his fleshy sleeve with a tattoo of the Nine O’Clock Gun, but thanks to the skyrocketing success of Deadpool, the sexiest dad alive is making a big noise of his own.
By Katherine Monk
VANCOUVER, BC – He’s officially the hottest star in Hollywood now that Deadpool has racked up a quarter-billion $US in its first week of release and launched an on-line fan frenzy demanding he host SNL, get his own statue in the prairie province of Saskatchewan, and get on with spawning a series of Deadpool sequels.
Vancouver’s Ryan Reynolds has come a long way since his so-called “breakout year” back in ’02-’03, when he made the leap from recurring roles on TV shows such as Fifteen, The Odyssey and The Outer Limits to being the star of features films. He played a party hound Van Wilder, and a master thief in Foolproof, Canada’s first full-size experiment with the action genre. The whole movie was geared around a set piece in an elevator, and while that particular outing is now a strange and sometimes maligned footnote in the annals of Canadian cinema, the elevator motif followed Reynolds for the next decade as he rode the ups and downs of showbiz.
Going Up: A starring role in a superhero movie.
Going Down: The superhero movie was Green Lantern.
Going Up: A raunchy comedy co-starring Jason Bateman.
Going Down: A high-end horror cop thriller about the undead that died.
Going Up: Working with Helen Mirren on The Woman in Gold.
In fact, Reynolds has been on an upward trajectory for a while, even if some of his best work was in smaller, weirder work such as John August’s The Nines, Marjane Satrapi’s The Voices and more recently, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Mississippi Grind.
“Look. I work and live in a very fortunate world. And I’ve been around now professionally for more than 23 years. I’ve watched a lot of guys come and go. So I really do feel very, very lucky that that I’ve been able to hang on through tremendous peaks, and tremendous valleys,” says Reynolds.
Sitting down for a rare one-on-one, the man voted America’s Sexiest Man and Sexiest Father looks downright mellow. His elegant frame seems to fold neatly onto a hotel room couch, like some interior designer realized he made the perfect fashion accent to tobacco colored throw cushions.
“I ain’t complaining,” he answers when asked about the demands of the celebrity lifestyle. Though besieged with fans and paparazzi, especially during the long Deadpool shoot in Vancouver last summer, Reynolds is perpetually gracious with the public.
He smiles. He signs things. He allows selfies.
I ask him if he ever feels like punching anybody, and he smiles with a hint of mischief. “There are times when you think you really want to punch somebody. But I’m self-aware enough to think, hey, do I really want to punch that guy? Like what’s going on here? You know, really.”
He talks a little about growing up in Vancouver, and says his mother and his brother are always around to keep him grounded. Then he rolls up his sleeve to show me his tattoo. It’s a beautiful technical drawing of ‘the 9 o’clock gun’ – a small cannon fired every day at 9 pm in Stanley Park.
I recognize it immediately, and he looks pleased – which in turn, makes me feel warm and fuzzy. In fact, it’s hard to be around Ryan Reynolds without feeling like you fell into the arms of your favourite stuffie: He’s friendly, he’s kind and while he can play one better than just about anyone out there, he’s not a dick.
“I’ve found that if you can navigate this industry with a gracious attitude and a lack of entitlement, it helps a lot. So when you do find yourself in a valley, you have a lot of hands that reach out to grab you,” he says.
“And I thank my family for a lot of that good stuff in me. But I still have broken glass and rat shit in me too. Everyone does,” he says.
“But at this point in my life, it’s not about monetary success or objects. It’s about experience. As I get older, I’m really enjoying experiences more than anything else.”
Reynolds says outside of being a husband to Blake Liveley and a father to their baby daughter James, the experience he enjoys most is being on a movie set.
“I love being on a film set and becoming part of that roadside attraction that just shows up in town. Within three hours, you’re a family. And it’s really great. And you’d be amazed how I’ve been lucky enough to work with major, major, major movie stars who have none of that pretense,” he says.
“It’s like they just come in and they are right there with everybody – like we’re all in this together. We’re all making the movie, so let’s get in there and do it. I love that part of it. And that’s what you get from the pros who have been around a long time. They just want to do it. Which is why they are so great, and why they’ve lasted.”
We’re all making the movie, so let’s get in there and do it. I love that part of it.
Reynolds says you can’t sustain a career if you don’t have some element of that kindness, some shred of human generosity.
“I am sure there is always some exception to the rule, but you know, I find the gem actors are the ones who have no attitude at all. I feel so grateful I got to work with Helen Mirren [on The Woman in Gold], and if you look at someone like her, she just loves what she does. And because of that, it affects everybody who comes in her path. That was a nice thing to see, you know, because she could come in and be like – oh, another movie… sigh.”
Reynolds plays out the joke with a fake pout. “But she’s not like that at all. On the first day of shooting, she was so nervous. Dame Helen Mirren! Nervous!”
Reynolds winks: “I told her it would be okay… I had her back….”
It’s this playful tease that Reynolds can spin between prince charming and douchebag that’s powering the juggernaut called Deadpool, the X-Men spinoff that Reynolds helped produce, and now essentially owns in the public eye for the rest of his life.
“I think at the core… is this very real question about what is good. You know, personal morality and all the metaphysical questions that we live with. I love living in that question, and any time you can give people a little reflection of humanity… it feels a little more meaningful. I mean don’t you find that as a writer, too? You want to offer something that’s a bit reflective.”
I nod. Vacantly.
“I don’t know. It’s like life,” he says. “I’d like to think that people guide themselves by their own personal code, because there is no real governing body to enforce morality. It’s like I’m fascinated by atheist charities, because it proves a strange point that morality is something separate from religious ideology, you know?”
At this point, Reynolds offers a look that is so sincere, it’s disarming.
“Morality is a personal choice. To help people, or not to help people,” says Reynolds, articulating the central dilemma of Deadpool’s immortal character. “Those are the themes that I’m really attracted to.”
THE EX-PRESS, February 18, 2016