Ryan Reynolds: ‘I Want My Kids to Experience the Same Kind of Childhood I Had’

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

When it comes to spending time in the great outdoors, Ryan Reynolds’s childhood was just about as action-packed as his recent movies.

“I grew up in British Columbia, so it’s like the greatest wilderness playground on earth,” the Deadpool actor, 39, told Yahoo Celebrity in New York City on Tuesday. “Vancouver is just stunning. You have these incredible lakes and streams and mountains and ocean and everything you could ever want. So growing up there was something that I loved. It had a profound effect on me.”

The memories of his youthful adventures — along with thoughts of his growing family with actress Blake Lively — are what fuels Reynolds’s passion for maintaining a sustainable environment. The soon-to-be father of two recently joined Eddie Bauer to promote the brand’s partnership with American Forests.

Last November, Reynolds was even given the honor of planting American Forests’ 50 millionth tree in San Bernardino, Calif.

Reynolds’s passion for the outdoors is something that is deeply rooted within him.

“In 10th grade, I did a program where you spend the majority of the school year in outdoor survival situations, and it changed my life,” Reynolds said. “You spend a good portion of the year just hiking, kayaking, living in snow caves, living in glaciers, doing all these kinds of crazy stunts you would normally never do.”

As a kid, Reynolds enjoyed snowboarding, riding bikes, skateboarding — and doing lots and lots of climbing.

“My brother and I did a lot of mountaineering,” Reynolds said. “I would be climbing all kinds of peaks. But one time in Squamish, British Columbia, my brother miscalculated the length of rope we were using. I don’t know quite how it happened. I was just following my brother’s lead, and he was about 15 feet above me and my rope just came totally undone!”

The actor’s instincts kicked in.

“At that point, you’re just free climbing,” he explained. “So I had to climb 15 feet to get to my brother so he could snap me in again — and climbing 15 feet took me three and a half hours just because it was an inch at a time of terror.”

Reynolds was petrified, but his brother had an entirely different reaction.

“He was laughing the entire time,” Reynolds smiled. “I do like to think his cold, cold heart on the inside was a little bit concerned for my well-being, but he seemed to find the whole thing very, very funny. What was going through my head was, ‘What does a body look like when it falls 3,000 feet and hits the flat rock at the bottom?’”

As he approached adulthood, Reynolds held on to his fond memories of his childhood experiences outdoors. But becoming a parent served as the ultimate wake-up call to actually do something about climate change.

“I want my kids to experience the same kind of childhood I had, which was you could run around in fresh air and be one with nature,” Reynolds said. “I’ve always been an environmentalist, but having kids really sort of drilled home the point that what we have here is fleeting and we need to save it.”

Thumb wrestling isn't always fair. Curiously, my hand is the small one.

A photo posted by Ryan Reynolds (@vancityreynolds) on May 14, 2015 at 9:47am PDT

Reynolds said he plans to raise his kids to become eco-conscious.

“I’ll certainly do my best to instill that within them and help them to understand that we need to approach our environment with great humility,” he insisted. “I, like a lot of people, want to do whatever it is I can to help promote a sustainable environment.”

As he and Lively, 29, anxiously await the arrival of baby No. 2, Reynolds is just enjoying the time he gets to spend playing outside with 1-year-old daughter James at their home in upstate New York. He wants to take the kids camping when they’re a little older (and take them to his secret “favorite tree” in New York) — but he says he hopes they inherit a little of their mother’s bravery.

“I was living on a glacier for 10 days in British Columbia, and I woke up to a bear scratching its back on my tent,” Reynolds recalled. “I pulled a knife out in case I needed to cut a hole in the tent to exit the other way, but it turned out the next morning it was a cub. But in my head at the time, that was like a 6,000 pound grizzly that was scratching his back on my tent! It was only the next morning when I realized it was a little baby.”

This is Brutus. He's over 110 years old. He's telling me his life story. But in real time.

A photo posted by Ryan Reynolds (@vancityreynolds) on May 18, 2015 at 12:04am PDT

But until his entire clan is old enough to hit the trails, Reynolds will just keep adding new adventures to his bucket list.

“I always wanted to go to Costa Rica and see the rainforests there and wander around. That’s not usually in the publicity stops these days,” Reynolds said. “I still have a pretty extensive bucket list.”

By getting involved with planet-saving organizations like American Forests, Reynolds is doing his part to ensure that he and his growing family will get to check off that list.