Ryan Reynolds has slowly, but surely emerged to become one of Hollywood's most appealing actors. While mostly known for comedies like National Lampoon's Van Wilder, Just Friends,Waiting, and Definitely, Maybe, he's also done movies as varied as The Amityville Horror remake, Blade: Trinity, and Smokin' Aces.
Even in his primary genre of comedy, Reynolds is continuing to broaden his acting horizons, choosing to play the lower-profile and more unsavory role of maintenance man and rival Mike Connell in the new comedy Adventureland.
The now 32 year-old Canadian-born actor first described to us the many nuances in this particular character in the film.
"He's not a guy that's not in any way, shape, or form"Â¦I mean, Connell is the kind of guy that's really trying to help anyone,"Â Ryan explains, "And what attracted me to the role was that he really leads a kind of fractured existence. He lives in a fantasy world. He has all these ideas about himself, none of which have materialized. I think he's lived up to none of the expectations he had set for himself."Â
"And because of that, his coping mechanism for that is to insert himself into a position where he's the biggest fish in the tiniest pond you could find,"Â he continues, "And there's something so sad about that to me, about people who live their life like that, they live a lie, he lives a fantasy. And, in a way, it's so sad that it's almost redeeming for the guy and that was something I found unusual and worth pursuing in this movie."Â
Ryan, then, had this to say when we subsequently concluded that his character was, in the best possible descriptive term thought of, a dog.
"Yes, but that's part and parcel of him leading a completely inauthentic life,"Â Reynolds adds, "I mean, the last person he could admit his realities to is himself and the reality is he's got a wife and a kid. And he's got responsibilities and he's got to keep food on the table and really grow up and he's refused to do that in any way, shape, or form."Â
Reynolds also says that despite Connell's more unsavory qualities, he's too complex to paint him as the film's villain, and such complexity made the character a delight for the actor.
"It's fun in a way,"Â he believes, "I don't really get to play characters like this per se, but I loved it. I loved that this guy gets to expose himself, warts and all, and take it or leave it. I like that he's not particularly redeeming and that's kind of my job. And the page, yeah, he's a dog, he's a guy that's willing to go to great lengths to live a lie. I personally just find it fascinating. I always find it fascinating when something causes that cringe effect a little bit. When I see or think about Connell, I cringe a little bit. He's that character that I would so hate to be in my real life."Â
"I don't think he's a bad guy,"Â he adds, "That's what drove me to the movie as well. Well, there are no villains or heroes and I think that's harder to write these days. It's so easy and lazy the stereotypes. I like that this guy, I guess he is sort of the most nefarious in the part, but he's not twisting his mustache and plotting ways to hurt people. He's really just self-serving and that's because he's a broken guy."Â
Ryan says he was enthused to work with director/screenwriter Greg Mottola, best known for the comedy megahit Superbad, on the film from day one.
"Greg just called me up and asked if he could sit down and here's the role,"Â Reynolds recalls, "It's probably a little smaller than you usually play and that doesn't ever really matter to me at all. I was on board from day one. It was just a matter of scheduling it. I was shooting a couple of other movies, so they had to shoot me out. So the biggest challenge was just getting me in and out of Pittsburgh in a week and a half."Â
Reynolds adds that he had absolutely no qualms with either that the role of Connell was a supporting one or the film's low budget of less than $10 million.
"No, no, no, no, for me, not at all,"Â he insists, "Your accommodations are probably a little bit different, but I spent a year backpacking around Europe. I've slept in some of the worst places you could imagine. So, I'm not"Â¦for me, it's all great."Â
"I get to do what I love and I don't really care whether it's a big movie or a small movie,"Â Ryan continues, "It's just more about when you watch the film, whether, say, you're watching Wolverine or Adventureland, you know, there's no qualitative difference between a movie that costs more and a movie that costs less, so I think it doesn't really matter."Â
We asked the actor of whether audiences will respond to a likable personality like Ryan Reynolds in a role like Mike Connell in this film.
"I guess that's up to the audience,"Â Reynolds replies, "I think it's a wonderful opportunity when you get to do a film where the audience is allowed to think for themselves and determine whomever it is they like or don't like, so I don't know. When I left the project, I didn't exactly like or hated the guy. If anything, I kind of pitied him."Â
"He doesn't live on planet Earth,"Â he adds, "He lives in a family world. He's a guy that never met his most minimum expectations and because of it, he's this goofball. So, if anything, I kind of just felt bad for him at the end. I didn't really see him as a villain. I think he is apologetic and he understands what he's doing is wrong. But, like I said, he's not twisting his mustache or anything."Â
While the film was shot in Pittsburgh and West Mifflin in Pennsylvania, the titular Adventureland in the story is based on an actual amusement park of that name right here in New York in the Long Island town of Farmingdale. We asked Reynolds if the film's shooting in a West Mifflin theme park named Kennywood afforded him the opportunity to go on any rides during filming.
"Unfortunately, I didn't,"Â he replies, "I was in and out of there so fast, your head would spin. I didn't get to go on any of the rides. I wish. The people I felt bad for were the background artists who had to sort of fake being on these rides all day, because the rides would make so much noise when their going that you can't shoot any dialogue over the ride.
"So I felt bad for these guys, because they were freezing cold, having to chew ice so their breath wasn't showing in the air, and having to pretend like its summer and wearing nothing but candy floss and never getting to ride on any of the rides,"Â Ryan continues, "I felt kind of bad for them."Â
Ryan adds that make no mistake, even if he did have the opportunity to go on rides, he claims to have no desire for amusement parks whatsoever.
"I always thought, as a kid, why would I get on a rollercoaster that's basically made of cockroaches and whispers,"Â Reynolds says, "And take my life into my own hands in that way, and die screaming, and probably on fire as this thing probably leaves the tracks when I can ride to the grocery store with my father, in his car, and watch him, basically, take the life of several people along the way, including myself."Â
"So I never felt like I needed that kind of excitement in my life,"Â he adds, "I have three older brothers. You'd wake up each morning and wonder if you'd see the sunset that day. I mean, it was a crazy household to live in and I had no intentions of trying to find more excitement outside of my existence."Â
In the film, a college graduate, played by Jesse Eisenberg, is forced to take a theme park summer job he feels is beneath him. We asked Reynolds if he had any jobs he felt were beneath him.
"I worked a lot of terrible jobs,"Â Ryan recalls, " I worked a grocery store midnight to 8:00AM for almost two years and that was pretty awful, just the graveyard shift, but that was very, very much akin to Adventureland. You have a bunch of 18 year-olds in a position of pseudo-responsibility and where I was, in this grocery store, was pretty much a bunch of 18 year-olds throwing exotic fruit all night and getting about an hour's work at night late into the shift, so I had that one."Â
"I worked in a restaurant that I'm pretty sure was a Peruvian coke shack because there were no patrons at the restaurant or people eating,"Â he adds, "I never served any food to anybody, but everybody seemed to do their business in the back, and come out jittery and angry, so that's what I assumed was going on. But that was a very scary and odd job that I had. Then I had a lot of paper routes as a little kid."Â
The film's plot is set in 1987. We also asked Ryan if his memories of the 1980's were fond ones.
"Yeah, well, trickle-down didn't find us in Canada,"Â Reynolds replies, "The eighties is one of the most indelible decades ever. The nineties is kind of like this hodgepodge of the other decades. I felt like the eighties had its own unique identity. It was a time of capitalism, hardcore greed, and style and really everyone was so avante-garde. To me, it was such a defining decade in America."Â
"It's overlooked almost, but where I was, we enjoyed that time, I mean, I was a kid because I'm sure if I was at this business in the eighties as a kid, I'd probably have a lot more problems then I'd do now, I'm assuming,"Â he continues, "But, we grew up in that generation, I was a little bit more responsible, I think. But I love those years. I mean, it was incredible. It feels like yesterday, I was wearing sockless topsiders, short plaid shirts, and pink polo shirt with the collar turned up."Â
Adventureland is not the only big film Ryan Reynolds has out this year. In May will be the highly-anticipated release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which he shared with us his contribution to the film.
"Yeah, Wolverine,"Â he says, "I play two characters. I play a guy name Wade Wilson who becomes a character named Deadpool. I don't really consider the guy I'm playing to be Deadpool. I consider him to be the creature that would eventually become Deadpool. But in this incarnation, he's a guy that's incredibly deadly. I begin the movie as sort of an ally to Wolverine and I end the film as one of the great foes."Â
We asked Reynolds if he felt any apprehension at all about the fact that the Wolverine film's director has been previously known for dramas like 2007's Rendition.
"I think so,"Â Ryan replies, "With a movie like this, when you're dealing with budges this size and when you're dealing with expectations this size, which are worse than budgets, it becomes a collective. So I think everybody's trying to shape the thing as best as they possibly can. So I don't worry about that at all. A guy like Gavin, an incredible, incredible director, a guy who understands nuance and emotion, and character."Â
"If you're an actor, that's the guy you want directing the action movie,"Â he adds, "Let the second unit director film the car chase or the fight scene. I want the guy who cares about the character with me everyday, so, no, there's absolutely no apprehension, when you have someone like Gavin Hood directing a movie like Wolverine. It's a great privilege."Â
Finally, we cheekily asked Ryan what plans are next in store for his "world domination"Â as an actor.
"Um, wow! Well, my running mate won't be Sarah Palin,"Â he quips, "No, look, I'm really very fortunate. I can do different genres. I haven't been shut out from any particular kind of film, which happens with some of the biggest movie stars in the world. So I've been really fortunate."Â
"I'm not in charge of release dates or anything like that,"Â Reynolds continues, "I've been working 15 months straight. I wasn't expecting to have a movie come out April, May, and June, all back-to-back, all somewhat high-profile movies, so that was unexpected. I don't know how to answer that and not sound like a dick (laughing), sorry."Â