Ryan Reynolds originally made his mark doing comedies like National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Waiting, and Adventureland and romantic comedies like Just Friends, Definitely, Maybe, and The Proposal. But he has proven to be equally adept doing action films like Blade: Trinity, Smokin’ Aces, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Now the 34 year-old Canadian native is about to reach potentially his greatest peak yet as a Hollywood actor. Reynolds scores the coveted role of the title character in the heavily-anticipated film version of the D.C. Comics superhero Green Lantern.
Ryan talked about what it felt like donning the Green Lantern suit.
“Well, the mythology in the film is the suit is made of pure energy, which there is no actual suit, because that would burn,” he says, “But what I’m wearing is a motion-capture suit with tracking marks and tracking dots and all sorts of things. That was a little bizarre. I sort of looked like a crash test dummy who lost his Volvo walking around the soundstage there and it was actually fine until about mid-August in Louisiana, which was a unholy, unforgivable experience in every, but it was an amazing experience.”
“It was great,” Reynolds continues, “The first time I saw the suit in motion was a real moment for me. It was about six weeks into shooting and they took some footage that we shot and basically rendered the suit onto the motion-capture outfit that I was wearing, That was an incredible thing to see that thing in motion and moving around in that scene where I was just walking around back and forth in a bit of test footage. And it was an incredible moment for me.”
Reynolds was asked how his own uncertainty with the weighty responsibility of playing a beloved superhero mirrors that of the character he plays in the film.
“Certainly, Hal Jordan is not fearless,” Ryan believes, “Certainly, it’s his humanity. It’s his ability to overcome fear that separates him from the other Green Lanterns and gives him that little extra something, I think. But, for me, each time I take a role, you’re always nervous about it in the beginning and you’re always afraid that, what if, what if that, what if this.”
“But every time I take a role, and I’m somewhat terrified in the beginning and I get into it and I start working, that’s a big win for me,” he adds, “So really, it is stepping forward in the face of whatever fears I’ve created for myself and going forward in any way and those are always big moments for me.”
Ryan had this to say on having separated his shoulder during the shooting of Green Lantern.
“My shoulder was ridiculous in the beginning, but it’s probably the lamest superpower I can think of, that I can separate my shoulder on demand,” he claims.
In the past decade, Hollywood has seen a glut of superhero film franchises from X-Men to Spider-Man to Christopher Nolan’s Batman films to Iron Man. Reynolds talks about what makes Green Lantern stand out from the rest of the pack.
“I kind of see like a true comic book movie in the sense that it feels like you ripped scenes from the movie right out of the pages of the comic,” he believes, “That was something that I really loved and when I first met [director] Martin [Campbell] and [producers] Donald [De Line] and Greg [Berlanti] and all the other filmmakers behind this film.
“That was something that I set out to do, I found that to be really refreshing,” Ryan continues, “It was a film that wasn’t being too precious about everything and it was true to the comic books. There’s a somewhat lighthearted tone in dealing with serious issues and I describe it like we ripped it right out of pages of the comic book.”
The filming of Green Lantern took place in Louisiana. Ryan was asked if he experienced any hardship in shooting over there.
“There wasn’t anything,” Reynolds replies, “I love New Orleans. New Orleans was actually a second home for me, so it was fantastic. But in terms of the logistics and shooting the film, I didn’t expect to have wirework like that. It defies the laws of physics that a 6”2’ person should be doing any form of gymnastics whatsoever. But they had me doing that before production because they wanted me to get ready for the wirework and be ready the day they call it aerial, where you’re sort of flipping and turning and spinning, you kind of know where your body’s at in relation to the ground. So I wasn’t expecting that.”
“My third day shooting, they fired me up in the air 100 feet at 60 feet a second,” he adds, “They fired me in the air a couple hundred feet and it was a mind-boggling experience. I get to the top. It’s so funny. Thank God my character gets to be terrified when I do it, because it was just genuine each time I do it. It was absolutely terrifying. One day, I hope they release the DVD outtakes of that because I get to the top and right when you get to the arc at the very top of this ride, let’s call it, you’re weightless for a couple of seconds because you’re just slowing down and you’re not really going up and you’re not really going down. There’s a cameraman above me, and somewhere in the back of my subconscious, I would just scream out 80’s sitcom characters. I don’t know why. I would get to the top and I would be, ‘Alan Thicke! Judith Light!’ And then we would go back. Maybe it was some sort of weird brain cell that was affected by my early high school drug use. I’m really not sure.”
Reynolds was asked to elaborate on his “early high school drug use.”
“No, I think we’re good,” Ryan replies a bit nervously, “We’re good.”
Ryan talked about the time spent on physical training that he had to endure to prepare himself for the role.
“I had a good amount of lead time on a movie like this,” he says, “Most of this was just so I could make it to the end. Martin Campbell is notorious for pushing everybody to the limit. You’ll just do a stunt that you can’t believe you just completed. And then, you’ll literally want them to show you the film back so you can put it on your epitaph and then Mark [Strong] will come up to you and say, ‘Now let’s do it again full-speed.’”
“So most of everything I did was functional, just so I could make it to the end of the movie,” Reynolds continues, “But I had six months feed time. I was eating drywall and distracted children for about a year just to get ready to go for this. So it was about a year total, but then, after that, it was a good solid month of just watching Sally Jessy, drinking beer, and sitting on the couch.”
Reynolds discussed the experience of meeting the cast, which includes Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, and Tim Robbins.
“I learned early on to abandon all those preconceived notions you have of other actors and it’s served me really well,” Ryan says, “I usually just try to empty my mind of that. I love meeting with actors and I love working with actors. To be up on the stage with a group of immensely talented people is amazing. But, at the time shooting, it’s just great to meet the person and also meet the character at the same time.”
“I’ve only worked with a couple method actors in my day and that’s always a bit of a challenge, but no, this was great,” he continues, “I met Blake before we started shooting. I do this ridiculous show in New York sometimes called Celebrity Autobiography when we read from celebrities’ autobiographies like [Sylvester] Stallone, Tommy Lee, Patty Lamar, and a short three or four months later, we’re working together.”
Lively, who plays Hal’s love interest Carol Ferris, had mentioned that she deliberately tried to sabotage Reynolds’s top physical condition for the film with cupcakes she baked and frequently brought onto the set.
“Most actors, it’s coke and guns,” Ryan says about her cupcakes, “They taste good.”
Ryan also mentions a “party trailer” that had been said to have been in the midst of Green Lantern’s filming.
“I had the party trailer,” Reynolds claims, “We called it the Earthman Café. I had Astroturf and cocktails. [Blake’s] had a Malibu Barbie dream house.”
Green Lantern, like many other classic superhero comics, has a long history that dates back to 1940, when the first issue was published in July of that year. Reynolds says it’s precisely that long history that made him excited to play him for the silver screen.
“That was one of the reasons I was so excited about this mythology: this character, the history, it’s 70 years old,” Ryan enthuses, “Is that about right? There are so many different worlds and stories you can tell in this universe. I was very attracted to this idea of the war between Hal and Sinestro. If we’re telling these stories down the road, if we’re lucky enough to do that, I really look forward to that.”
However, Ryan says he initially did not know much about the long history of the superhero.
“I only knew about the logline,” he reveals, “Admittedly, I didn’t know that much about Green Lantern or the universe that he lives in. I knew that it was a guy who was bestowed a ring by a dying alien and became a superhero. That was about it. But, no, once I got the role, I went in search of all the material I could get on him and find out as much as I possibly could before going in. Mostly, I just wanted to distill the essence of what it is that the fanboys loved about this guy and see if we can make sure that we get that onscreen first and foremost.”
“Because there’s a reason that you have to service them, there’s a reason they fell in love with this character to begin with,” Reynolds adds, “And whatever that reason it, it’ll be a little bit more pervasive when you do it with a huge movie like this to spread it to people who are not familiar with it, so that was the main priority. It wasn’t so much finding every single comic for the last seventy years.”
Reynolds says he’s come a long way to doing this film and it comes down to one simple thing for him.
“I’ve always sort of relied on a discipline to achieve goals great and small, I think,” Ryan says, “At a young age, my father instilled a real work in me and a fear of men, but I always felt if I didn’t have a natural knack at something, I’d out-discipline the competition as it were, so I would always work as hard as I could, sometimes to my own detriment in my personal life. But I think for me, willpower and discipline are very synonymous.