Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Ryan Reynolds is on a hot streak. After big-budget bombs like The Green Lantern and R.I.P.D., the 38-year-old Canadian has a string of promising new movies on the way: His gambling drama Mississippi Grind was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, he’s got a well-reviewed dark comedy called The Voices coming out on Friday, and he’s going to star in a 2016 standalone Deadpool movie, hoisting the katana swords again as his mouthy mercenary from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Oh, and he’s a new father, too.
In director Marjane Satrapi’s The Voices, Reynolds plays Jerry, a gentle man with a dangerous imagination. He is delusional and hallucinates that his pets — primarily, his dog Bosco and cat Mr. Whiskers — speak to him and are encouraging him to murder his co-workers, including Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick. The Voices will be in theaters and available on VOD on February 6.
Reynolds recently spoke to Yahoo Movies about all the voices in The Voices, the resurrection of Deadpool, and the lessons he’s learned from his big-budget busts.
Comic-book fans wanted a Deadpool spinoff for years, but it seemed like it was a dead proposition. How did the project suddenly get on the fast track to production?
Leaked test footage. Exclusively the leaked test footage, 100 percent.
Who leaked it?
I would have, if I had known it would have caused that! Honestly, we all thought Tim Miller, the director, had leaked it. But I have since investigated that enough, in quiet moments when he was beyond the point of being penalized by anybody, and he said that he really didn’t do it. The initial [leak] came from Fox they think — someone recorded the footage on their iPhone and then released it. And then once that happened, somebody hacked into Blur Studios and got the original footage in high-res and put it online.
So when you saw it online were you nervous? Excited?
I was excited, because you can look back at an email chain from all of us, the core group involved in Deadpool, saying “We should leak this, f—-,” like three years ago. Saying, “Hey, if this thing is going to stagnate, one of us should just say ‘Whoops, I slipped it online by accident.’” And nobody seemed to want to nut up and do that, myself included. Someone did it for us, years later, when we all completely assumed it was dead in the water.
Now, we get to make the movie. We don’t get to make it with the budget of most superhero movies, but we get to make it the way we want to make it, so that’s even more exciting than having a catered lunch.
This will be your second superhero movie as the leading man. What did you learn from the first, Green Lantern, that you can bring to this one?
Well, script. When we shot Green Lantern, nobody auditioning for the role of Green Lantern was given the opportunity to read the script, because the script didn’t exist. I’m not complaining about it — it was an opportunity of a lifetime, and if I were to go back and retrace my steps, I would probably do everything the exact same way. But script, that’s what’s different on this one.
We’ve had a script for three years. The script got leaked, and people even loved that. That says a lot — if you can create a script around a comic-book character that is directly within the canon of the character and be embraced. That’s a huge step in the right direction. I’ve since learned that a lot of superhero movies don’t really have a fully functioning draft of the screenplay ready until they’re already well into shooting.
Jeff Bridges and Reynolds in R.I.P.D.
I am one of the only defenders of R.I.P.D. I even wrote about it.
That was you, huh? Jeez, that was a bit of a debacle.
I enjoyed the campiness of it, but was it a mess on set?
It’s always a strange kind of alchemy with that stuff. You need a very, very specific, clear vision from a director that understands it. Everyone who’s involved in it has to take responsibility, myself included. That’s always weird, because when you talk about a movie that didn’t work, a soundbite is taken out of context, and then everything becomes about that, and you’re like hold on, let’s calm down.
When you’re on set are you like, “Oh no, this is not going well?”
When you’re doing an effects-heavy movie, you don’t know what anything’s going to look like. I don’t think anyone went into that movie thinking, “This is going to redefine cinema as we know it.” I think everyone went into that movie thinking, “This is fun, we like our co-stars, we like the people that we’re surrounded with here, and it’s going to be a bit of an adventure.” You can’t really control outcome like that, and if you start to do that, you sort of lose the plot.
Watch the trailer for The Voices:
You had a lot more control on The Voices. You even voiced the animals, right?
I wasn’t initially slated to play the voices in the film. And then it occurred to me that these voices are just parts of Jerry’s fractured psyche, so they should be voiced by Jerry. So [for the cat Mr. Whiskers], I just borrowed from a Scottish friend of mine who does business with a mercenary sensibility. And then I borrowed from a couple southern gentlemen I’d met who had a very black and white sense of right and wrong and applied that to [the dog] Bosco.
Your drama Mississippi Grind was just a hit at Sundance. Are you looking for more independent roles?
I’ve always done it — just speaking of Sundance alone, the first film I was in at Sundance was almost 18 years ago. I’ve always kind of bounced around. I’ve been lucky to have paid gigs, and then good gigs.
Photo credits: 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Scott Garfield