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Interview: Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong for "Green Lantern"

By Jeff Otto Sunday August 8th 2010 01:55AM
Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong for "Green Lantern"

Some comic heroes, such as Superman and Batman, seem a natural for adaptation on the silver screen. Others require a bit more doing in terms of the technological elements and the budgetary concerns tied to that. Green Lantern, one of the premiere characters of the DC Universe, falls into this latter group. Although the character has been around since his 1940 debut in All-American Comics #16, next summer’s blockbuster film will mark the character’s first foray into theaters.

Directed by Martin Campbell and starring Ryan Reynolds in the titular role, Hal Jordan is a cocky test pilot who, unbeknownst to him, is being scouted for a role as an officer in the Green Lantern Corps. Jordan is the first human to ever be welcomed into the Corps, granted a ring that bestows him with unimaginable powers. As he takes on the new responsibilities and learns the power of the ring, the weight of the universe is placed directly on Jordan’s shoulder when an enemy known as Parallex threatens balance of power. Blake Lively co-stars as Jordan’s love interest Carol Ferris; Peter Sarsgaard is Jordan’s childhood friend, Professor Hector Hammand and Mark Strong is Sinestro.

Reynolds, Campbell and Strong took time away from their ongoing production in New Orleans, LA to speak with the Comic-Con crowd about the highly anticipated project.

“I think the story itself is fairly simple.,” says Campbell when asked about the complications of the "Green Lantern" storyline. “Certainly, I think with the story that we are telling, which is the Hal Jordan story. There are five Green Lanterns actually. He taken up to Oa, he is inducted and he becomes Green Lantern. He is explained the way in which the ring works through will power - the stronger your will power, the stronger your construct [and] whatever your imagination cares to create.”

“For the most part, this is an origin story,” adds Reynolds. “So I was able to focus for the most part on Secret Origins, but our script is a much more in-depth interpretation of that sort of basic storyline. Geoff Johns described the the thing as a version of Star Wars in space in the DC Universe and I think that was a pretty apt description. He’s a bit of a fractured human being. He’s seen some difficult stuff in his life. He’s watched his father die. And then we move on to find him a little bit later in life and he’s kind of arrogant, cocky and aimless. And then there’s this extraordinary power bestowed upon him that sets him upon a bit of a humbler path.”

Before he was cast, Reynolds was shown the world Campbell had planned for Lantern and given a screen test. “To see the world they were creating for this character and this film was unlike anything I’d ever seen captured on film,” says Reynolds. “That was an amazing moment for me and that’s what made me want to do it. And then I screen tested twice. I got up there and Martin put me through the paces.”

“We went to England and tested a couple people,” says Campbell of finding his Hal Jordan. “It’s a very serious consideration because it’s not just one film. If it is successful, then I’m sure they’ll want to do a sequel, so this is something that goes on for a long period of time. The agreement between myself and everybody was that Ryan was perfect for the part.”

Unlike comic contemporaries, the shoot doesn’t require Reynolds to don a cape or cowl but rather a motion capture suit. “Because it’s actually not seen on camera they’ve managed to find a material that I think most would agree is the most aggravating substance on Earth,” says Reynolds of his mo-cap suit. “We’re shooting in Louisiana, which is pretty close to the sun in terms of the hottest place you can find anywhere around. It’s been a little bit difficult running around in a unitard in New Orleans high summer heat.”

Mark Strong, who we saw earlier in the year in Kick-Ass, plays the film’s villain, Sinestro. “Going to work and beating up a 12 year-old girl was an experience you don’t have very often,” says Strong of his prior work in Kick-Ass. “It’s nice to be facing a worthy opponent. The way I look at villains is they’re not born evil. With Sinestro, you have to look at who he is and what he stands for and what he believe in essentially. He is an incredibly organized, fearless exponent of the Green Lantern court who believes that he knows best. He basically guides [Jordan] through his first steps. So I don’t think of him in a bad sense. He’s just an incredibly powerful presence who knows what he believes and what he wants.”

With Martin Campbell at the Helm, one thing for certain is the action will be top notch. On set, Reynolds says that is both a good and bad thing. “It is a Martin Campbell movie, so you’re bound to be [in the hospital] once or twice. He pushes you pretty hard, and I think because of that, the action in the film is pretty visceral and real. Martin once described it as a knife fight in a phone booth and I think that’s a really apt description of how his action feels. It’s rough, it’s dirty, it’s fast and you’ve got to be ready for it.”

Unlike the Marvel properties, which are ultimately being prepped for connection in the forthcoming Avengers film, Warner Bros. and DC currently have no plans for a Justice League film. “We stand absolutely on our own,” says Campbell when asked about Justice League continuity. “We stand as our own superhero and our own story and a terrific story it is.”

"Green Lantern" will open internationally June 17, 2011.

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