Ryan Reynolds had done well in the comedy genre with National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Waiting, Just Friends, Definitely, Maybe, and The Proposal. But he has proven to be equally adept doing thrillers and action films like Blade: Trinity, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Green Lantern.
Now the 35 year-old hopes to once again show off his action skills in the thriller Safe House. The film pairs him alongside Denzel Washington, playing U.S. intelligence officer Matt Weston who must move a criminal, played by Washington, to another safe house from one in Cape Town, South Africa after it’s attacked by rebels. Reynolds talks about working with the Oscar-winning actor.
“That’s one of the reasons I really wanted to do the film obviously was the chance to work with whom I think is the greatest actor working in Hollywood today, Denzel, but that was it,” Ryan says, “Huge impetus, but the idea that this guy is slowly disillusioned with everything that he believes in, it’s the slow disintegration of God and country for him, and that sort of what means everything to this guy and watching that be peeled away slowly, measure-by-measure by Tobin Frost, who Denzel is playing.”
“And just kind of feeling that, which is, these days, that what we don’t know is more terrifying than what we do know,” he continues, “And so much is goes on behind the scenes that we’ll never ever know about and I liked investigating that world.”
Ryan talks about how Swedish filmmaker Daniel Espinoza who makes his American film debut with Safe House>, was essential to the film working as a whole.
“He is just a truly incredibly gifted filmmaker,” Reynolds says with him, “He almost acts like a bit of a thug, but he’s read every book you can pretty much imagine, he’s seen every film you can imagine, and learned from the best and that’s applied everyday to what he does. It’s really a craft for him. I’m excited. Daniel is a guy you want to buy stock in definitely.”
Reynolds talks about his own experiences of being stuck in the middle of a sticky situation, as his character Matt experiences with Washington’s character Tobin in the film.
“Yeah, lots,” Ryan says, “You want to start with this morning? Yeah, of course, but also, the greatest lesson I think I’ve learned in life is who knows what is good or bad. Things come along that you really want and they turn out to be the worst thing in the world. And some of the greatest tragedies conceived that could happen to you personally could turn out to be the best things and the exact medicine you need at that moment. So I’ve learned to have faith in my cynical ways and it’s softened me in all the right ways.”
Ryan was asked what research he did on the CIA to better understand his role.
“A man named Luis was a CIA operative who was on set all the time,” Reynolds says.
Reynolds was asked if he felt weary about America’s security from what he learned about the CIA.
“I always think it’s, like I said, not what we know that is terrifying, it’s what we don’t know,” Ryan says, “But I think that’s pervasive with everything in life. But I’m sure a book or two could be written about really goes on.”
Ryan talks how he trained to do the stunts he did for the film.
“I worked out with Olivier Scheider,” Reynolds reveals, “He and the other guys are really great at making it really look ugly, that knife fight in a phone booth kind of feel, and that’s what you want. But we had a couple of rounds. I practically had to wear an adult diaper before…I’ve seen this guy. I’ve seen The Hurricane. I’m like, great, ‘I have to fight him. Terrific.’
Reynolds says, however, that during one scene, he gave Denzel Washington a black eye.
“I did,” Ryan admits, “And that was my early retirement basically. I thought, I gave Denzel Washington a black eye and I probably should go home. The first look he gave me after it happened. I tried to make him feel as bad as he possibly could. It was definitely very real. It was weird to feel his face on fire. I’m glad I was the first. If it was going to be anybody, it was going to be an apologetic Canadian.”
Ryan says one particular stunt involving Washington being waterboarded was tough for him to witness.
“That was the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen, watching him be waterboarded was really disturbing,” Ryan says of it.
Stunts often involved Ryan driving a car during some of the intense action sequences.
“Oh, yeah, lots of it,” he says, “Some of the crazier stuff, actually, what’s hard about the sequences of driving the car, while I’m driving the car, it’s actually much less terrifying for me, then we have a pilot guy who’s on top of the car for the scene and he’d actually drive it on two wheels.”
“And Daniel, our director, he’d be sitting on the wheel well beside me giggling like a little schoolgirl while the car is up on two wheels just yelling, ‘Faster! Faster! Faster!’ and he can’t see anything,” Reynolds adds, “I find out later that Daniel’s never driven a car before in his life, so he doesn’t drive. So being in that position was crazy. We would hit headlong into a brick wall and then, I would hit the brake and the guy up top would hit the gas. So that was a very strange feeling. I never been in a situation like that. I’ve never seen a rig like that for a car and it’s a professional driver up top and he knows the weight of the car, at least, that’s what you like to believe when he’s doing it, that this guy knows what he was doing, but that stuff was pretty intense.”
Ryan reveals what he learned most about doing the film.
“Well, I just think stinking with something,” Reynolds says, “This was a movie that I had been with for years and believed in. And just to be standing on that set was incredible. We actually just wrapped the day before this at 4:00AM, so I’m a little slurry right now because of that, but it’s just about being passionate about something and sticking with it is really half the battle and showing people why is it you really believe in something.”
Reynolds also talks about the experience of shooting the film in South Africa.
“They were just teeming with joy,” Ryan says, “The people are incredibly happy, there given the horrendous circumstances of which they’re living. If you are from the United States and you go over there, you can’t believe what you’re seeing.”