Charismatic comic actor Ryan Reynolds may be best known to television viewers for his role in the popular Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, though if it weren’t for his close friend Chris Martin, Reynolds’ star may have not risen quite as smoothly as it did.
Born in October of 1976, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to a food wholesaler father and a retail store saleswoman, Reynolds harboured an affection for acting from his early youth, and was undeterred after failing a drama class at the age of 12. Making his television debut two years later on the Nickelodeon show Fifteen, the aspiring youngster crossed the border and relocated to Florida for the taping of the show, moving back to Vancouver soon after production ceased in 1991. Turning up in numerous television series such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch and made-for-TV movies in the following years, Reynolds soon grew despondent that his career was not moving along as smoothly as he wished.
Recognizing his friends’ frustrations, friend and fellow actor Martin suggested that the two pick up and head for the Hollywood hills. Crashing in a cheap hotel and having his jeep stripped and rolled down a hill did little to raise Reynolds’ spirits, though the determined actor carried on, landing his role on Two Guys in 1997. The only actor to read for the role of Berg, Reynolds won the favour of the producers and was soon on his way to success in the States. Following with roles in the teen horror-comedy Boltneck (1998) and later Dick (1999) and Finder’s Fee (2000), Reynolds soon began assuming his position among the hot young actors of the early millennium taking the lead in 2001 for Van Wilder, and breaking lose, dramatically, in the latest Blade thriller, and now as star of The Amityville Horror. Here, he shines as the unravelling George Lutz, who falls victim to the mother of all haunted houses, in this clever reworking of the original. Cheerful and witty, Reynolds talked to Garth Franklin.
Question: Were you kind of surprised that you were able to get this movie given the comic material you did before that?
Answer: Well it was definitely something that was outside of my wheelhouse, or at least currently outside of my wheelhouse. I think that what a lot of people don’t realise that producers also, and directors, respond to people who are really passionate about a project as well, so they definitely want to see why, why, why was I so interested in doing this movie as well. I had to fight for it though, I mean I went and read for it and…
Question: Why were you so interested?
Answer: I loved that the movie had all these supernatural elements to it, but I love the fact that I didn’t have to worry about that, that the director could shoot the horror film and I could shoot basically a movie about this guy who’s unravelling psychologically speaking. I mean he’s going from point A to point Z, he’s just losing his mind throughout the course of this film, so it just was so different, and I really loved the notion of rage with this guy. He had like this ability to burst and explode and not really know when it’s going to happen, and I just wanted to play that. It was just – I don’t know what it was, it was just a weird compulsion.
Question: What do you tap into to play that element, play that rage, this anger.
Answer: Well, I think, everybody is wounded on some level emotionally from childhood or from whatever, a marriage or relation, etc. So I think you just sort of look at some of those things, it’s those things that we usually typically avoid, you know, and just find that to sort of feed off of; and it creates unpredictability. When you do comedy so much you map it out in your head like you would a musical. With something like this it’s just. I don’t know, to me it’s just, ah, it’s just so much more abstract. So it’s fun.
Question: Now you had to go to some pretty dark places in this film. They said you slapped one of the kids and it just kind of came out during the performance.
Answer: Yeah. Billy, uh, Jessie James, he had it comin’. (Laughter).
Question: I think that’s a quote, that one.
Answer: Yes, yes, exactly. no, I,t was actually horrible, I mean, I didn’t mean to do it. It’s just. that’s what I mean, because you’re unpredictable and you don’t know what’s gonna happen. It wasn’t hard or anything, but enough that he looked up like he just won the lottery, it was just so cool to him. (Laughter). I look over and the script supervisor is crying and I’m trying to like apologise to her. I don’t know what’s happening.
Question: It was a dark force, right?
Answer: Yeah, exactly. (Laughter)
Question: You were possessed.
Answer: Yes, of course. The Indians did it. It was one of those great moments. In a perverse way I was sort of excited by the fact that something happened on film that was just totally unplanned and it just came out, and organically enough and not so organically that it actually hurt anyone. And so everyone walked away from it but it was definitely disturbing.
Question: You also made the conscious choice not to socialize with the children.
Answer: No, I didn’t ever talk to them. I was just.
Question: You were an asshole the whole time, huh?
Answer: Well, thank you. (Laughter) Yeah, I guess. No, I mean, on some level yeah, I don’t want to get attached to the kids, you know, I don’t wanna get to know them and love them, I wanna stay as far away from them as possible. It helps me do my job better, so.
Question: How did they react to that? I mean, did they understand why you were doing what you were doing?
Answer: They’re little adults though. Anytime you work with these child actors it’s like, they’re talking about backend gross on a movie. (Laughter). So you just think, ‘wow’, so I mean, I think that they were fine. They gave me my space as well and their parents are obviously very hands on and that sort of thing. So, yeah, they were fine with it.
Question: How familiar were you with the original movie or the book or.
Answer: Well, I’d seen it. I thought that for its day it certainly I’m sure was very provocative when it was fresh in the minds of all these people, these murders that took place. I don’t think it aged well. I don’t think it stood the test. I felt like it was by all means a perfectly worthy remake, it was something – it’s a story that was definitely worth re-telling with the technology we have available now, and I mean people, there are legions of fans out there who would love to see this story told so I was all for it. The first one, with all due respect to the people that were a part of it, I just. I don’t think it held to the test of time at all.
Question: Are you a fan of the horror genre?
Answer: Not as much as I would like to say in this interview. (Laughter). I’m not a huge, huge fan. I mean, I don’t actively seek horror. I actively seek out good movies. I mean, they could be in the horror genre or they could be in any genre, so.. I don’t relax to a nice porn every night, but it’s definitely I’d say if it’s a good movie it’s a good movie. So, it could be any genre.
Question: Do you have any of your own beliefs in the supernatural?
Answer: I believe in dark energies, and I think anytime you enter a house where something that tragic happened I imagine you’re gonna experience something dark; and I know that this family did. I mean, what actually happened the details of which are not for me decide. They certainly were only there 28 days and then got the hell out of there for some good reasons, I believe. I definitely harbour some of those feelings, but my opinions aren’t formed enough on it to really comment.
Question: You don’t shoot this in order, but we get to watch you deteriorate further. You know, the guys playing with the kid in the bed, you being a real good guy…
Answer: Yeah, a fun guy.
Question: …to be this guy at the end?
Answer: Yeah, it was fun to do. My hotel room was like a gigantic diagram of George.
Question: How do you keep it straight? How do you melt it down like that?
Answer: It’s just all cards. I have cards all over the place. I mean, I’ve taken this guy actually in an alphabetically system, A to Z, you know, where am I today. So scene 118 falls in the letter Y or X. You know, that area. So, so, you know. Sort of X, Y. It’s that kind of that literal.
Question: And did you keep track of the contacts, because your eyes glaze through the whole thing. They get like just black dots.
Answer: We had a couple of different contacts, but, uh, we couldn’t always get them in. I mean they were literally like transparent dinner plates. (Laughter). It was like a crowbar to get them in. So, by the end I was actually just using menthol crystals. I would actually in some scenes, in some cases, just rub them into my eyes and they would just “poogh”, flame.
Question: Is this the beginning of a new phase of your career now? Are you looking at going beyond.
Answer: I’m going deaf in my next movie actually.
Question: Is the Van Wilder sequel coming out?
Answer: They’re actually doing Van Wilder 2, which is not with me. There’s always a new phase. I mean it’s always, each thing you know while may be imperceptible to an audience member necessarily, but for me every movie is something totally different. This year has been more about scope for me. I’ve just done bigger movies this whole year – more high profile movies than I have.
Question: Like, what else?
Answer: Well Blade, you know, was kind of a stepping out for me. It was something where…before that I always had one foot in and one foot out and wasn’t as afraid of success as I was failure I think, and I just kind of came to grips with a bit of that and went in – and I hated auditioning before too, I just found it to be such a vulnerable horrible insensitive process.
Question: You still do that?
Answer: Well, you got to. I mean, you got to fight for roles. You’d be amazed that Gwyneth Paltrow reads for roles. I You gotta go fight for them sometimes, and I went in and I fought for Blade and then that thankfully led to this and then this led to that and then I did Just Friends, which was another big sort of huge studio type movie.
Question: What’s happening with Nightstalkers? Is that actually going to happen?
Answer: I don’t think so. I mean, that was something they just kind of gauged our interest on to spin off Blade and it was just…I think people, if they go see a Blade movie they want to see Wesley. That’s who they’ve watched all this way. So, I suggested if they want to spin that off just, just, you know, take the characters and do something totally different with them that is outside of the realm of vampires or whatever.
Question: Is that something that you want to pursue though?
Answer: No. I don’t want to do a Nightstalkers movie.
Question: And Just Friends, do you plan to take the romantic.
Answer: Just Friends is a romantic comedy. It was a fun physical morphing job again too. I mean, I basically wear that same suit from the nutty professor, that kind of like fat suit. It was a lot of fun. And just playing that character was great because in the span of ten years – to the ages from 16 to 27 – throughout the course of the movie, and it was just a blast. Roger Kimble, he’s the director of Just Friends – he’s just gonna be my lifelong hetero pal. I mean, I love that guy. (Laughter). I want to do every movie with him. I just.
Question: Who’s your lifelong non-hetero pal then?
Answer: God. Andy Dick. I don’t know. (Laughter)
Question: You mentioned that, fans were hungry for a remake for Amityville, but of course there’s like, you know, people who say, ‘Oh, it’s a horror remake’ so they’re just gonna shun it without even giving it a second thought.
Answer: Sure, yeah.
Question: So to those people what would you say, like specific scenes or things that you’ve done in this movie that you think are a lot better.
Answer: Well, I think we really have to see. I mean, I can only really speak for George, and I think you get to watch a man unravel in a fairly linear way, you see the progression and to me that’s kind of interesting. Human nature always intrigues me, and I think a lot of filmgoers, whether they’re horror films or any kind of movie. Hopefully they’ll see that. I think it’ll have legs in that regard. There is a formula to horror movies that you’ve gotta have, people are disappointed if they’re not scared. They wanna jump out of their skin in a movie I think. Some of the recent horror movies, they don’t. they’re not trying to provoke you in that way and it might be a mistake.
Question: Did you get to meet him or did you even want to?
Answer: George Lutz?
Well, it wasn’t a biography so it wasn’t on the top of my list and, you know, I guess the most diplomatic way I could say this is that I don’t think MGM was overly excited about me meeting him. So, I don’t know what that means. I didn’t even ask. (Laughter). So, I just said, ‘All right, that’s fine. I don’t need to meet George Lutz then”.
Question: I guess he had a competing project going on.
Answer: Maybe, yeah. It might have been something like that, you know.
Question: Is there either a classic character, another classic film of the 70s or another era that you would like to see remade with you in it?
Answer: God, I don’t think so.
Question: What character.
Answer: I mean, I would love to play. I would love to play Ignatius J. Reilly someday from “Confederacy of Dunces”. But I don’t know. I’d be so scared to get in there because he’s such a great character. But from the 70s I really, I really can’t think of one in particular that I would really like to see.
Question: What else is next for you?
Answer: I have a movie that I’m going to do with the Rock in the Fall called Ride Along where it’s sort of in the spirit of Midnight Run. It’s like a cognitive therapist whose – I play that – I’m marrying this woman that I love and he is her brother whose a cop whose very protective of her and lives in another city though and I end up having to go meet him and he takes me on a ride along that I never forget. You have this guy who just… everything he does is like methodically thought out in a non-violent communication, that sort of thing. You know, basically stuck with a cop whose like his whole life is about reacting with his gut and busting balls when he has to, and you know, you get these two together and it’s a little…
Question: He’s a nice guy the Rock.
Answer: Oh, he’s a great guy.
Question: Who’s the woman in that?
Answer: We don’t know yet. We have no idea. It’s just something. Rock and I have always wanted to do something together so, uh.
Question: We were just talking about not doing another Van Wilder. You mentioned that, you know, you weren’t that big of a prick so, you know, they would have hired you anyway.
Question: Tou used to be hesitant about being famous and now that you’re making that leap how cognisant are you of being judged on film?
Question: Is that all part of it, are you aware of that or do you just?
Answer: Well, no. I mean, my main goal is to make the best film that we can make and that is almost 9 times out of 10 in perfect alignment with everyone I’m working with. You have to respect everybody that you’re working with. I just think, no one person is making a movie and I think that kind of megalomania is what sinks people. If a grip has a good joke and I’m in a comedy, tell me it, I’d love to hear it. I want to hear his opinion. I think it’s not that hard to make it a friendly nice working environment. I’m not too worried about it because I know me and I know people like to work with me and I like working with people so.
Question: What is it about success that you used to be leery of?
Answer: I think just the departure of any sort of anonymity. I think that’s something that you need to come to terms with. Maybe not for some people but for me it was a bit of an issue and, you know, having a world famous girlfriend had something to do with that as well. I saw it’s not easy everyday.
Question: And now do you still have those same concerns?
Answer: Well, I just. I feel like stepping out into my own sort of light and allowing me to really kind of experience myself in ways that I’ve always wanted to. I’ve wanted to do big movies. I’m a fan of doing big movies, I mean I’m a fan of watching them and these characters. So it’s more about that. It’s just I love doing it. Work begets work and it’s great to work.
Question: Were you the class clown when you were a kid?
Answer: Not really, no. I mean, my brother is the funniest guy I know. He’s my older brother, he’s a cop. That’s sort of where the Ride Along idea came from with the Rock because I’ve gone on ride alongs with him and it’s a very bizarre job being a cop. He’s hilarious though. He’s the clown in my family so.
Question: So where did the actor in you come from?
Answer: Probably wanting to be the clown, I think, and always being usurped by my dickhead brother. (Laughter)
Question: Does she write any songs about you?
Answer: My brother?
Question: No. Your world famous girlfriend.
Answer: Alanis? I think there’s probably a couple out there that are, you know, something to do with me somewhere in there.
Question: Do you still listen to her music?
Answer: Oh, yeah. I love it, yeah. Yeah, you’d be surprised. I mean, it can be awkward when she walks in and I’m listening to it and I’m in my underwear dancing. (Laughter) Yeah, that’s always odd, but, uh. No, I love her music. I love her as an artist. I mean, she’s autobiographical, which I just think is – takes such a huge amount of bravery and, you know, I have just huge respect for her as a creator and artist.
Question: So what other music do you listen to besides, besides.
Answer: I love everything, you know, I love all the classics, the Stones, The Beatles and all that stuff. Right now I’m listening to, uh, The Killers a lot and Magnet, a group from Norway. I don’t know. if anyone’s a music fan, they’re just the greatest.
Question: If you don’t see horror films on a regular basis what kinds of films do you like to see?
Answer: I like to see good movies. It’s not necessarily just horror movies that I avoid or anything. I like horror movies. I liked The Others. I thought that was brilliant. I saw Millions the other night. Anyone see that?
Question: Yeah, it’s wonderful. Yeah.
Answer: God, I could have just sat there all night and watched it over and over again. Now that’s a beautiful movie. I also love popcorn, bubblegum action flicks. I mean, you know, I love ’em. I mean there’s a reason they’re called popular, you know. I love them