Ryan Reynolds (44) has made his talents available to superhero films and movies on streaming platforms, probably the two great trends that have dominated recent Hollywood, with effects yet to be determined. He is one of those stars who have gained ground and are building a golden future hand in hand with that dominance in the industry.
But Free Guy: Taking Control, his recently released latest film (already on theaters in Chilean cinemas), does not come from comics and will not be released on a digital service. It cost at least US $ 100 million and its production alone is due in large part to the current status of the actor of Canadian origin, consolidated as a world figure by the hand of Deadpool, the antihero he has brought to life in two films and who is inspired in part by his own ability to laugh at himself.
The same one to which he appeals when asked if his most recent feature film is part of a larger rubric: the Ryan Reynolds brand as a guarantee of comic elements, ease and entertainment on the big screen. “I feel like I would sound like an idiot if I started a sentence that way. I don’t know what classic Ryan Reynolds humor is. I do not know. I certainly don’t think Free Guy it’s like nothing I’ve ever done before, ”he says.
Comedy actor (The proposal), dramas (The golden lady), Science fiction (Life: Smart Life) and some higher risk bets (Buried), Reynols seems to be on the cusp of his career, with massive roles that polish his record, while becoming more and more involved in projects and their gestation: in Free Guy He is the protagonist, executive producer and participated in the rewriting of the script. Connected via Zoom with a group of regional media, among which is Worship, moves fluently through multiple topics and proves once again that he has no learned text when it comes to promoting his own work.
He has no problem in, for example, reviewing how they have dealt with the use of electronic equipment during the pandemic with his wife, actress Blake Lively, and their three young children. “In our house Blake and I are very careful with the time on the screens, you can see how children can melt into them. It’s a really scary thing. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a kind of reverse psychology, where I handed them the iPad with the game open, but then I say, ‘no, you can’t go into Tik Tok right now.’
His latest film, by the way, is set in a video game and has multiple winks for lovers of these, which today number in the millions in the world. But it is a story with its own concept: it follows Guy (Reynolds), a bank worker always dressed in a light blue shirt and with an unalterable routine, who discovers that he is really a minor and irrelevant character within the logic of a story played by legions of people around the globe.
For the actor, it is the opportunity to embody a leading man who is pure optimism and naivety, another point that distinguishes the film from the patterns that usually reign in Hollywood blockbusters.
“I feel empathy for the character, he’s a guy who has something incredible. I think what’s so heartbreaking about him is the fact that he has this optimistic view of the world despite being robbed, beaten, set on fire and kicked daily. Still, he wakes up every day and thinks the world is great. (He says) ‘Don’t have a good day, have a great day.’ That is their way. I think there is something really powerful and beautiful about that type of person who goes from zero to superhero in a movie, as opposed to someone with a kind of hyper-masculine cynical worldview, which I think is rare in Hollywood productions of this size. So, I thought it was cool. “
Do you think the future of Hollywood depends on studios finding a way to make more films other than comic book adaptations, remakes or reboots?
Yes. I’m a huge fan of comics, comic book movies, and intellectual property, but at the same time I think Hollywood is kind of an ecosystem that needs new stories and you have to inject new blood into it to make it all work. Comic book movies are great when there are other alternatives available as well. So if they only gave us comic book movies, I think that could be detrimental. I love the fact that we were able to tell an original story here, which was a great reason that I wanted to do this and I know it was a great reason that Shawn (Levy, director) wanted to do it too. Disney was so supportive of us doing it that frankly I was amazed at how much support they gave us to make this movie.
Like any idea with a large budget that achieves approval in the industry in the 21st century, Free Guy collects as a direct reference to a widely recognized title, in this case, The Truman Show (1998), by Peter Weir. The Guy who plays Reynolds is a worthy heir to the Truman Burbank that Jim Carrey gave life to in that film, immersed in a reality show without suspecting it.
“On Free Guy you have a character who is also being used and consumed for entertainment, although it is not really an experiment. But I think some of the issues and ideas behind it have a lot to do with free will, about regaining control and authorship of our lives, and I think that’s something that is on the lips of a lot of people these days. “, Explain.
The interpreter says that he became interested in the project as soon as he knew the basic concept of the production: a bank teller routinely humiliated who suddenly discovers that he is a character in a video game. In contrast, for the public to finally access the film, it took almost an eternity since it was finished.
The pandemic delayed the release of the film up to three times and at some point, says Reynolds, the launch of the film could have been simultaneously in theaters and streaming, the bet applied by Warner Bros. studios (only in the United States) and Disney , the owner of Free Guy.
A strategy that these companies have ensured is only in force while cinemas return to normal, but that has already caused clashes with their stars. The most talked about case is that of Scarlett Johansson, who sued Disney for an alleged breach of her contract for Black Widow, whose arrival in theaters was diminished both by its digital debut and by the context. Reynolds, at least, will not face something similar, simply because his film can only be seen on the big screen.
One of the options that studios have found in recent times is the premiere in cinemas and streaming at the same time. Would you have opposed that strategy if Disney had decided that this would be the best alternative for this movie?
Initially there was talk that this was going to be one of those releases in theaters and streaming at the same time. I honestly didn’t have a great perspective on it, other than the fact that I really wanted people to see Free Guy. And ideally for people to see it on the big screen, because that’s the kind of format it was shot in, it wasn’t shot to be enjoyed on an Apple Watch or something. It was destined for the big screen and a kind of communal experience. At least in the screenings where I have been with the public, the easter eggs and cameos are moments in which it is spoken out loud, where the public stands up, in a function that I attended they stood up. That is an experience. It’s like the best drug on Earth, sitting around watching a movie where that happens. I don’t take that for granted for a second.
Then he defines: “But I don’t get too involved in those policies right now, with respect to streaming versus cinema. I am a double agent there. I work for Netflix, I work for Apple TV, I work for Disney, I work for 20th Century Studios. My production company works at Paramount. So I have a strong belief that both systems work and I am lucky to be involved in both. “
While waiting to know how solid his new box office premiere is, Reynolds says he is clear that his greatest satisfaction around his latest work lies in the bond generated with the director of the film, Shawn Levy, with whom he has just collaborated again in the Netflix film The Adam Project. The actor calls it “a creative marriage.”
“I always wanted to work with him, but I didn’t know that we would connect the way we did, I almost wished I had met him ten years ago. We just finished our second movie together, which is in the editing room. We will start the third movie next year. I recognize how rare and fortunate it is to find someone who speaks the same language as you. “
Then, true to his style, he comments on his other great joy: the cameos of Free Guy and the calls he personally commissioned to summon colleagues and entertainment figures.
“That really gave me faith in the fact that Hollywood, like many places, is a real community, where people support each other. Some of these people who are making cameos in the movie have asked me to make cameos on their tapes and I said yes. And just the fact that the exchange really works, it made me think, ‘this is happening, I did something for your movie and now you’re doing something for mine. It was very rewarding. “
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Ryan Reynolds: “Hollywood is an ecosystem that you have to inject new blood into to make it work”