‘Free Guy’ star Ryan Reynolds remembers early jobs that made him feel 'invisible'

In the acclaimed new adventure-comedy Free Guy, Ryan Reynolds plays a bank teller NPC – that’s non-player character – in an ultra-violent video game who's content to "live" out his highly repetitive days in the background while the heroes and villains around him (the characters who get to wear the sunglasses) get all the action.

That is until Guy starts to become self-aware thanks to A.I.-like software planted in the game by a pair of programmers (Jodie Comer and Joe Keery) in the real world. A sudden phenomenon in the gaming world, "Blue Shirt Guy" transforms from background player to hero in his own right – which could also be a metaphor for the career arcs of so many successful actors like Reynolds, who began by working far less glamorous jobs or were extras or in tiny roles in film and television projects.

"Before I was in show business I drove a forklift, I worked in restaurants, I was a busboy, I was a waiter, I was a cashier," Reynolds, the Deadpool star who’s now one of the industry's most in-demand actors, told Yahoo Entertainment during a recent virtual group chat where he was joined by Free Guy costars Comer, Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar and director Shawn Levy (watch above).

"I got a pretty close-up experience of what it feels like to sometimes feel a little invisible in your job, in particular. And then once I got into show business, when you're starting out… you have moments of invisibility and you have existential crises."

Ryan Reynolds and Lil Rel Howery in Free Guy (Fox Studios)
Ryan Reynolds and Lil Rel Howery in Free Guy. (Fox Studios)

Some of the 44-year-old Vancouver native's earliest parts included the Canadian teen soap opera Hillside and fleeting appearances in an episode of The X-Files and the TV movie Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

"You go through the first flow of jobs thinking, 'OK, I have to have a backup plan for this because this is not sustainable.' And then some of us are very, very, very lucky and fortunate to stay in the career and stay in this job. So I've felt that lots of times."

Reynolds began earning more widespread notice with the late-90s sitcom Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place and movie roles in Van Wilder, Blade: Trinity and Just Friends. Major hits like The Proposal and the Deadpool movies (and the inevitable hiccups like Green Lantern) would soon follow.

Despite his A-list status, there's still one place Reynolds says he can be anonymous, though: at home, where he has three children with wife Blake Lively.

"I have three kids at home, so I feel like that every day," he cracks. "My daughters will literally try to walk right through me."

Watch our full interview with cast above. Free Guy opens in theaters Friday.

-Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jason Fitzpatrick