Ryan Reynolds may well be the next Jim Carrey, at least that is his hope if his new film Van Wilder takes off. In the film, Reynolds is the self-titled Wilder who might be starting his seventh year at Coolidge College, but graduation is the furthest thing from his mind.
Armed with a personal assistant and a coterie of admirers, Van has reached the status of living legend on campus, throwing bashes that make geeks popular, raise money for charity and generally “inspire the uninspired.” But when Van’s father refuses to pay any more of his son’s tuition bills, Van must turn to party planning for profit in order to continue living in under-graduate bliss, thereby becoming the subject of an expos? by disapproving school journalist Gwen Pearson (Tara Reid).
What begins as a clash of wills, however, soon leads to unexpected romance as Van and Gwen both realize they have a lot to learn from each other. The only problem: Gwen’s self-obsessed, frat house boyfriend, Richard, who’s determined, at any cost, to put a stop to Van’s rule as campus king. In LA to promote the film, Ryan talks comedy and tomfoolery. Paul Fischer REPORTS.
Question: Is there any room for subtlety in a character like this?
Answer: I Don’t know, I practically did this movie in mime if you ask me. Subtle as hell. Yes, there is room for subtlety. I thought initially when I was given the script, I felt it was actually much broader and I kind of toned it down a little bit. The character albeit is not subtle, but I definitely felt like he didn’t need to do a back flip in every scene to make a line funny. I thought you could kind of reel them in and earn the bigger, broader moments later. I think that character needs to do that. I would agree with you there’s no real overtly subtle stuff.
Question: How do you do that?
Answer: A lot of young comedies rely less on character because it’s really hard to cast a young comedy, they rely more on devise. They rely on pre-set gags, some of which were still left in the movie obviously judging by the ?clair scene and some of the other stuff like that. for the most part, it’s a character driven comedy. You have to rely on character, which they rarely do in a young comedy.
Question: You do this thing with your eyes to punctuate. Where did that come from?
Answer: I have no idea. You could probably review tape and show it to me. I know what you mean though; I’ve heard that before. It’s just how I kind of express my beats I guess, I Don’t know how to put it in words.
Question: Did you have college experiences?
Answer: No, I do not have college experiences. I did go to college briefly. I left about 3 ? years early to go to LA, so I did that. Also, I grew up ? this is in Canada ? the colleges in Canada Don’t have the social dynamic they do in the United States because there are no sports teams. Our Spring Break is just like a blur of figure-skating and ?Kum Ba Ya.? We Don’t have the huge sort of Cancun craziness where you are waking up in shallow pools of your own bodily fluids and getting up and doing it all over again. It’s sort of a different kind of deal. I wish it were like that because that would make school a lot more fun, that’s for sure.
Question: Where was that school?
Answer: That was in British Columbia.
Question: What’s the name of it?
Answer: Kwantlen University.
Question: Did you go to a traditional high school?
Answer: Yes, I went to a few different high schools.
Question: What was that experience like?
Answer: It was good. I was an introvert at high school and an extrovert at home. I get a little insecure in that kind of social dynamic or environment, at that time.
Question: Did you play sports?
Answer: Yep, I did sports growing up. I played rugby growing up. That was the main kind of sport in my neighborhood, that was the big thing.
Question: How did you feel about the mantle of responsibility of carrying off this film, as the lead character in a National Lampoon film?
Answer: I was terrified actually to begin with. It’s a daunting thing. You basically also have a legacy or moniker that was immediately familiar with certain people. National Lampoon had Chevy Chase, Belushi ? all these guys that are sort of heroes in a sense. That’s kind of scary to have to pick up that torch where those guys left off. I was terrified. I spent a lot of time actually working on it. The movie’s definitely not ?National Lampoon’s The Piano? here but I spent a lot of time working on it, picking my battles and pick my beats. I had a definite idea how I wanted to do a young comedy. Getting the role was actually a whole other story, too, because the studio hired me from this other film I did with Walt Becker called ?Buying the Cow.? They saw it and said, ?That’s our Van. Let’s have a meeting with him because he has no box office or anything like that.? So I really went in there with like a song and dance to show them how I really felt I would like to do a young comedy my way, if I may be so bold to say. The final product ? all said and done to make this long story even longer ? in the final product I got to see it screened in front of an audience of 600 people who didn’t know I was there and I feel a lot better now after seeing that. You’re so close to it, you know Walt was gracious enough to let me in the editing room as well so I saw every frame and second and millisecond of that movie cut. I stayed right through the scoring process. It’s something I really put a lot of heart into I think and after seeing it screened twice actually now in two totally separate cities across the United States for audiences, I feel a hell of a lot better. I can’t believe the way they reacted to the movie, I mean, just all the right places and then some. It’s just amazing.
Question: You described yourself as an introvert before. How far did you have to go to find this character?
Answer: I’m not an introvert at all. In school I was a definitely introverted. In school, it wasn’t like a huge big deal or anything; I just wasn’t a very boisterous kid. I just wanted to get through it; I just wanted out of high school and to move on. At home, the funniest place I’ve ever been is the Reynold’s family dinner table. I have three older brothers; I’m the youngest of four. We have a painter, an RCMP officer and an electrician and me. Picture us all 10 years ago, it’s just the most bizarre dinner table you’ll ever sit at. You’ve never taken so many right crosses or peed yourself laughing at the table so many times. That to me was like huge inspiration.
Question: What are your parents like?
Answer: My dad is a former police officer, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer as well. My mother is actually a professional student. My mother is still in university.
Question: The scene with the older woman must have been very interesting. Obviously she knows that it’s poking fun at her looks.
Answer: People say, ?How was it kissing that 80 year-old woman?? And I say, ?It’s probably just as hard for her as it was for me.? It’s not easy doing that. I equate it to Daniel Cosgrove, he’s in the movie and he plays the bad guy, that’s a hard job to do. You show up to work everyday and willfully have your face kicked in. It’s tough. On that note, that being said, it was damn hard kissing her. You’ve never experienced anything until you’ve had a mature, darting tongue in your mouth. Yeah.
Question: How many takes was it?
Answer: It was all day. It was all fucking day. Oh my God, there were gratuitous takes that did not need to be done (laughing). I know it, I know it. I was like, ?You guys have this from every angle.?
Question: Will that show up on the DVD?
Answer: That will be all over the DVD. There’s a gag reel that we never even showed at the end of this movie that will be all over the DVD. Every angle they covered that thing, they covered it from another building I think. She removed her tooth before it. It was like a musical ???? in my head at least, which happens sometimes. She was like, ‘should I remove my tooth?? And I was like, ?Dumm Dumm Dum.? It came out and there it was in all its glory that large gapping whole right there. It was tough.
Question: What did your girlfriend have to say about that?
Answer: At the time, I did have a girlfriend but I Don’t now. Maybe that had something to do with it. I did find myself in a gentle spoon with Ms. Haver in the morning. No, then she really knew it was work. She was a real sport, the woman who played Ms. Haver. She’s a lovely, lovely woman.
Question: National Lampoon is associated with the 80s. Why are they bringing it back?
Answer: National Lampoon is a brand name. We’re not necessarily bringing anything back in particular. National Lampoon is back in business whereas they weren’t before. I wouldn’t be in business either if I did ?Loaded Weapon.? I’ll go to Hell for that one. I think it’s a resurgence for them as well. This is a really big deal for them. They disappeared for so long then the company reverted back to its original ownership, which is sort of where the inspirations come from. I think they’ve been amazing.
Question: What does the National Lampoon label mean for this film?
Answer: I think it’s beyond just a qualification before you walk in a movie. I love the fact that it lets people know what they are going to go see. You are not walking into ‘sense and Sensibility? here, you are going to go see a National Lampoon movie. It just really says, ?Hey come have a good time, ? to me it does at least. I associate great comedy with National Lampoon. I can plug in ?Vacation? or ?Christmas Vacation? or ?Animal House? at any time and know I’m going to laugh my ass off. I could plug in ?European Vacation? and cry, cry a thousand cries.
Question: Will an audience under 25 years old recognize that?
Answer: It does evidently. Seeing it on two different screens, one with a very mixed crowd of different people ranging from 18 to 40, I think. That was an audience that absolutely blew me away how much they loved the movie. And then also seeing it with an audience that was strictly a university crowd flip out. To them, at least the feedback that we heard, was they just thought it was far and away better than ?American Pie? or they got that same kind of kick out of it.
Question: ????????? opened the door to the raunchiness we see now?
Answer: I’m certainly not going to make an argument that raunch is a valid part of contemporary young comedy, but some people would. They are not my favorite parts of my movie or of any other movie. The only reason I’m so excited to be a part of this movie, not just because of the response it’s getting, but it’s because 90% of the movie is character driven. My favorite scene is when Van is invited to Gwen’s parent’s house sort of unwittingly and he shows up there and he’s forced to basically turn the tide on this entire room using nothing but his strength of character, so to speak. I just love how that is used to push a plot forward, then just those gross-out gags, however be it. There’s validity in the sense that people love that, they love that.
Question: Is it hard to make a guy like this likeable?
Answer: Yes it is and that’s why, if I may be so bold to say, I think I was hired. I think I saw his likeability right through. In fact, he’s a good person which is a rare thing in these young comedies. You have this character that actually cares about the people around him. In the middle of all the melee and all the shit that’s going on in his life, he can’t believe this girl’s written this article about him and he remembers to go see Sick-Boy, you know. I just love the fact he reminded me of Ferris Bueller in that sense that sure people love him and sure he’s the most popular guy on campus, but at the same time he’s a good person. That’s how you can get behind him, otherwise you are dead.
Question: Is he motivated by trying to help people or is that just a side effect of trying to make money?
Answer: I think that’s the thing. Throughout the movie a lot of the stuff that he’s doing, you know the tuition has sort of become this kind of sidebar thing halfway through the movie and it’s more about chasing Gwen and all that stuff. I mean, where she meets him at the pool. These events that he hosts are for charity. The parties he throws are for tuition.
Question: Your style in this film is similar to other National Lampoon films. Did you research or prep, or was it part of your own natural comedic style?
Answer: It’s all me in the sense that Lampoon came about while we were shooting. It wasn’t even something before. I think that part of the reason that we are all together here is because that they felt this is such a National Lampoon movie when they saw some of the dailies from it and read the script.
Question: Do you think the way you portrayed it or the way it was directed made them be interested in it?
Answer: I think so, yeah. They certainly wouldn’t have jumped on board when they did, unless they saw some potential in it. Same thing with the study, and it’s also infinitely frustrating because they gave us no money to shoot this film, of course ? which is fine. But they see the movie, they flip out, and our marketing budget quadruples what we spent on the movie. It’s like, we could have just used an extra million here or there. How often do you get to say that, by the way? We could have just used an extra million (laughing).
Question: The poster has you wearing a toga. Is that your face on someone else’s body?
Answer: That’s totally my face on someone else’s body. That guy is ripped!
Question: Were you aware of them doing the toga thing, which is a reference to ?Animal House??
Answer: Nope, I wasn’t. You know, they called me up in Vancouver ? that’s where I live ? and they said, ?Can you come down and do a photo shoot?? and I said, ?We are about to go on a two month ad campaign so no. I’m going to stay home with my family. My brother just had a baby.?
Question: Vancouver is still your home?
Question: Why do you live up there? I realize that may as well be Hollywood at this point but why do you live up there?
Answer: I’ve never worked up there incidentally. I wish I did, but I’ve never gotten a job up there. It’s just where I choose to live. I never clicked with LA. It’s a great town, most of my friends live here, but I prefer the pacing and I Don’t like to drive, I like walking.
Question: What’s a talent or skill you have that you are really good at? Something you can beat anybody at?
Answer: Well, not the unicycle which I learned last week, ironically enough. Some guy had a unicycle and I asked him if I could try it out and just about killed myself. I Don’t know what I do, God I really Don’t know off the top of my head. I lead one of the most boring existences you can ever imagine. I Don’t hit the party scene, you won’t find me in Hollywood clubs. I live in Vancouver, I have a dog, I wake up in the morning and eat a bowl of plain oatmeal and walk the dog. You’re falling asleep already, I can see.
Question: What kind of dog do you have?
Answer: A Boxer, I have a Boxer.
Question: Where do we find you amusing yourself?
Answer: On the weekends, I’m like a brass taps and milk kind of guy. I go to a small bar, there’s usually a kind of hole in the wall bar that I go to in Vancouver and sit there with friends and get polished.
Question: Are you into sports?
Answer: Yeah, I like sports. I grew up playing rugby and as far as teams go, I like the Green Bay Packers ? I’m a football fan.
Question: Did you set out to be a comedic actor when you first started out?
Answer: No, but it was my default in Hollywood, especially. When I got here I thought, ?Okay, I can strive to be yet another Aaron Spelling jockey but I can’t do that.? I’d just as soon laugh at myself and that’s sort of what brought me into it a little bit more, why I was sort of adept at doing sitcoms. When I started out here I couldn’t get casting directors to even look at me. It’s a hard thing when you get in this crew readings during pilot season, they are reading so many people that they sit there with their script and you’re across, and they Don’t even look up. I was like, ?If you just looked up for a second I would maybe not get it, but at least get a little closer to this.? So finally I remember seeing somebody who looked up and I kind of cocked their head and I was like ?Gotcha.? Then I ended up on a sitcom so I think it’s just sort of my default as opposed to anything else, it’s my strong suit.
Question: Was anything trimmed because it just went too far?
Answer: Yeah, we have an entire sequel on the floor called ?Apocalypse Van.? There’s a lot of stuff cut out. When you assemble the film with what you have, you do a rough assemblage which is what we call the ‘suicidal assemblage? which literally makes you want to kill yourself when you see it ? it’s almost 3 hours long. You just assemble everything with just the first takes of everything, even if it’s a blooper. You just kind of sit there and slowly sink into your couch. I really sort of found that dynamic in the editing process. We start to trim the fat and you’re like, ?Oh, this is kind of funny.? Then you keep going and then you’re like, ?Oh my God, I think we’ve got something here.? And then they show the studio and they go, ?Let’s throw $30 million into the ad campaign.? And you’re like okay, great. There’s lots of stuff that we lost. There’s a great scene with Dr. Joyce Brothers that’s on the gag reel, I Don’t know if you saw that as well. I’ve got 95 year-old makeup and took 6 hours all for naught because Dr. Brothers couldn’t remember a line. We had some trouble with that. There’s lots of stuff. There’s probably a good, usable 30 minutes but you can’t have a small comedy like this go any longer than 90 minutes. Right now, it’s 82 minutes which is perfect. In the outtakes there’s the love story with the bad guy. You could have done it a lot further. It’s one of my favorite shots. It’s a little, tiny, subtle quick little like ? just Van kind of looks and it’s like ?What the hell’s going on?? and then we’re back to the story all of a sudden.