Behind-The-Scenes Facts About "Free Guy"

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1.The first draft of Free Guy was written in 2016 by screenwriter Matt Lieberman.

A man standing

2.As for the initial idea that jumpstarted this, Lieberman said, “What if you have the cheat codes to life? What if you could walk around and see power-ups? Oh, then you would be in Grand Theft Auto.”

Scene from a video game
Rockstar Games / Via

3.Lieberman framed the game company and its executives on The Cabin in the Woods.

A forest cabin in the first and a control room in the second pic
Lionsgate / Via

4.The draft was written in around three weeks in 2016 and generated lots of interest in Hollywood. After remaining in cold storage for some time, Fox ended up buying it.

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5.Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential elections was responsible for putting the script in cold storage.

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6.Once Ryan Reynolds got on board, he breathed new life into the script. Lieberman says, "The script went from just being in development to 100 miles per hour."

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7.Guy was a cynical character in the original script. Reynolds changed him into a satisfied-with-his-life character. According to him, “Why do we put up with this? Guy should be happy where he is.”

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8.The second major change that Reynolds made to the script was the addition of Dude (Guy 2.0) to the movie.

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9.Around 80% of the lines of Antwan (Taika Waititi) didn't make it to the screen. He improvised most of his lines.

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10.In the original script, Guy and Millie/Molotov Girl stay together till the end. It was here that Zak Penn stepped in and changed the ending, which finally made it to the big screen.

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Arturo Holmes / WireImage / Getty Images

11.This is Zak Penn's second movie that is centered on a video game. The first was Ready Player One.

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12.The movie also saw a final cameo from the beloved and late host of Jeopardy, Alex Trebek.

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13.Trebek's cameo was born in the editing room after the shooting was over. Levy asked himself how he could "make it clear that Blue Shirt Guy has gone viral and is now known in the culture.”

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14.Most of the action taking place in the background while Reynolds and/or Comer are walking and talking is totally real and not CGI.

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15.Shawn Levy was first offered the movie in 2016 but refused to direct it, as he felt that someone with a gaming background would be more suited for the job.

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16.It was Hugh Jackman who introduced Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy to each other, which resulted in this collaboration.

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17.Years later Ryan Reynolds approached Levy with the script, completely unaware that Levy had previously passed on the same movie.

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18.The experience of watching Back to the Future was what motivated both Reynolds and Levy to make this movie.

“We made this movie for our younger Back to the Future-obsessed selves. We wanted that feeling of wish fulfillment, aspiration, a huge ‘what if’ at the center, but we wanted it to be as warm as it is funny,

19.Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer had never met each other before this movie. The first time they met each other was when Comer came for the audition.

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20.This is the first non-IP, non-sequel movie that Disney has released in a very long time.

  Noam Galai / Getty Images
Noam Galai / Getty Images

21.In an interview, Ryan Reynolds revealed that "Molotov Girl's silhouette and look was based on Bonnie Parker," the female half of the murderous duo Bonnie and Clyde.

A woman standing in a room full of guns and motorcycles.
Alan Markfield / © 20th Century Studios / courtesy Everett Collection

22.Molotov Girl's character was initially written as a "kind of punk rock, nondescript sort of goth character." It was changed later because it felt dated.

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23.Comer went for the audition right after she finished shooting for Killing Eve Season 3. "I'd just wrapped Killing Eve Season 3 the night before. Flew to New York in the morning," Comer said in an interview.

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24.It was the Disney-Fox merger that made it possible for the movie to pack oodles of surprises and cameos. The production team literally wrote a letter addressed to Disney stating, "Dear Sir and Madams, would you give us the privilege of using this or this or this?"

screenshot image of the walt disney logo and a post regarding disneys acquisition

25.The whole movie was shot in Boston — especially in the Financial District.

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26.Both Shawn Levy and Ryan Reynolds stay in New York and would commute on an Amtrak train between Boston and New York. A lot of rewrite happened on this commute.

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27.Comer was given a PlayStation 4 before the shooting started to prepare for her role. She did play some games on it but found it very stressful, as she "would take it way too seriously."

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T3 Magazine / Future Publishing via Getty Images

28.On her PlayStation 4, Comer played Spider-Man, GTA, and Red Dead Redemption 2. She didn't like GTA but absolutely loved Red Dead Redemption 2, which she would play with her dad.

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Rockstar Games / Via

29.Comer was obsessed with The Sims while growing up. The Sims is one of the games that directly influenced Free Guy.

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30.Not only Comer but the crew, too, played lots of video game for research for Free City. Levy used to watch video game videos on YouTube and Twitch. Reynolds played lots of Super Mario for the movie.

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31.The stunt for the scene where Guy smashes through the window on a motorbike and then slides along with the bike was performed by Reynolds himself. And he did it thrice!

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32.The scene where Taika Waititi's character makes fun of exploit-the-IP culture was written by Levy and was a deliberate commentary on Hollywood's "addiction to IP."

33.In order to make it easier to differentiate between the game world and the real world, they were shot with different types of cameras and lenses.

The virtual world of the game was shot with a large-format camera fitted with spherical lenses, while the real world was shot with multiple camera types and anamorphic lenses. Even the color scheme was markedly different, with the game world being richly colored while the real world was "five different shades of grey and very murky."

34.Guy's apartment has lots of minute details that make it clear that it is a virtual, inside-the-game construct.

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35.Tobman, in an interview with Vulture, revealed the names of the video games that inspired him in designing the game world. They are Anno, Fortnite (“in terms of the design of the world”), Grand Theft Auto (for its “palette of violence and texture”), Minecraft, and Shadow of the Colossus (for its “lonely” quality). And the ultimate inspirer of all, Red Dead Redemption 2.

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Rockstar Games / Via

36.Levy and Reynolds called and texted their famous contacts for the voice cameos. The text would read, "Hey, do you want to do this part? It’s voice only. You can literally send it in as a voice memo from your iPhone, and I’ll put it in my movie. It will go to theaters like that.”

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Han Myung-gu / WireImage / Getty Images

37.Tina Fey, John Krasinski, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, and Hugh Jackman have voice-only cameos. Did you catch any of them?

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Jim Spellman / Getty Images, Michael Kovac / Getty Images for Paramount Pictures, James Devaney / GC Images

38.Aaron Reed, the actor who plays Dude, was discovered in an interesting manner. The VFX supervisor Swen Gillberg revealed, “We found the actor who plays Dude in a Google search and I recognized him from the gym where I go in L.A."

39.Originally, Ryan Reynolds was supposed to play Dude as well, but the plan was dropped as the director wanted to hasten things up.

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40.Molotov Girl’s stash house took three months of construction.

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41.While shooting in Boston, Reynolds texted his buddy Chris Evans (who was also in Boston shooting for Defending Jacob) to visit the set and shoot a scene. Evans obliged.

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Reynolds revealed, “I told him exactly what was happening and we were 100% ready for him before he ever even got close to set. He was in and out in about seven minutes.”

Amanda Edwards / WireImage / Getty Images

42.The actual shield from Captain America movies wasn't used for Chris Evans' cameo.

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Reynolds wasn't sure if Disney, “would say 100% yes until after we shot it. So we were leaving room to make that shield something else if we had to.”

Marvel Studios

43.Jodie Comer met her boyfriend while shooting for the movie.

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She was invited to a party when she was in Boston for the movie shoot and met a man whom she started dating. She has been quite secretive about her boyfriend, and she received lots of hate on social media because of a rumor that said her boyfriend is a Republican.

Mike Marsland / Mike Marsland / WireImage

44.Before filming this movie, Comer didn't know what an Easter egg is (other than the usual literal meaning).

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45.This is the second project when Joe Keery and Shawn Levy have worked together. The first one is of course Stranger Things, where Levy serves as an executive producer as well as a director.

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46.The movie is also a statement against guns. Nowhere in the movie does Guy use guns. Levy explained, "I liked the idea that Guy never uses a gun in the entire movie. In fact, he's literally taking guns off the street as part of his leveling up."

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47.The gun used by Josh Brolin's Cable in Deadpool 2 was also supposed to make a cameo. The production team even got the gun from the props warehouse of 20th Century Studios and shot a scene with it.

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48.This is only the second time that Utkarsh Ambudkar and Lil Rel Howery have been in the same film. The first one was the 2019 movie Brittany Runs a Marathon.

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49.And yes, it is Jodie Comer singing Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" in the movie. She was excited to record the cover in a recording studio where the Beatles had once recorded their song.

50.It was Ryan Reynolds' idea to use Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" as the main theme song of the movie.

51.Reynolds had initially put a song called "Your Love" by the Outfield in the script. But Carey's "Fantasy" came up on his playlist, and he felt that this is the song that embodies the movie's message.