When ‘Deadpool 2’ lands in May, Ryan Reynolds is expected to be headlining a $1 billion, box-office smash. It’s a far cry from the 11 years of false starts that included a studio exec telling Reynolds the character would never even make it to the screen. He reveals to RSNG what kept him pushing for success…
RSNG How do you feel about the success of the original Deadpool, looking back on last year?
RYAN REYNOLDS, ACTOR ‘I always believed in the character and after 11 years trying to get it made, and a lot of false starts it's very gratifying to see that it succeeded. It's one of those cases of a dream coming true. When we finally got the green light to do it, I spent so much time and energy getting ready for it that my wife thought the line between Ryan and Wade (Deadpool) was getting thin and confused. I like to think of Deadpool as an alter-ego of mine, haha!’
‘I spent many nights rewriting my lines and coming up with the best one-liners I could’
RSNG It must have be vindicating to have seen it through to Deadpool’s release?
RR ‘The weekend after the movie came out, I remember walking into the office of the head of Fox (20th Century Fox) and saying: “Now you can thank me.” It was a very special moment… Many years earlier a previous head of Fox studios had told me that the film would never get made. So there’s a lot of relief and satisfaction that comes with not just making the movie but seeing it turn out to be a huge success.’
‘But I always felt that I understood Deadpool and that I knew it would tap into pop culture in a way that audiences would appreciate. I spent many nights while we were shooting rewriting my lines and coming up with the best one-liners I could.’
RSNG Did you deliberately fuel Deadpool with some of your own natural sense of irony and cynicism?
RR ‘There was a lot about his sense of humour and way of looking at things that I related to. He doesn’t take himself seriously and I’ve never been someone to take myself seriously, either. That’s been a side of me that I think has come through in many of the characters I’ve played and I knew exactly how I could take Deadpool in a very different kind of direction that you’ve ever seen any superhero take.’
RSNG How does it feel to look back on the days when you were starting out as an actor? Did you ever imagine doing anything else with your life?
RR* ‘No, not really. My father was a cop and so were two of my brothers, and I was thinking of becoming a fireman. I had actually started studying for the entrance exam, but then a friend told me that I didn't have a chance because the fire department had a mandate to hire women and visible minorities.’
‘Since I didn't quality in either category, I decided that I would move to L.A. and try to make my dream of becoming an actor come true. I think I was also rebelling against my family profession. It was either that or drive forklifts, or work at Safeway. When I drove to California, I didn't even tell my boss at Safeway that I was leaving. I didn't tell my parents either, so they were shocked when they found out what I was doing and that I wasn't planning on coming back home.’
‘It’s no longer a real thrill to do stunts and land on concrete – it really hurts now’
RSNG Is it harder to do the kind of stunts you did for Deadpool than you did for Green Lantern when you were five years younger?
RR ‘What I’ve noticed is that it’s no longer a real thrill to do stunts and land on concrete. It really hurts now. I’ve found out I have to train much harder to reach the same level of fitness, and you’re feeling sore and stiff, which you never felt like before.’
RSNG How did you first get involved in acting? You grew up as the son of a policeman?
RR ‘Things were sometimes pretty intense at my home and my father was pretty tough on me and my three older brothers. That built up a desire in me to find a way out of the house and be on my own.’
‘I took drama classes in high school and I got to do a lot of improv, which I discovered I loved to get involved in, and be very adventurous and wild. One day casting directors from Nickelodeon showed up in town and asked every high school drama teacher to send their four best drama students to audition. I didn’t get picked at first but I kept on auditioning for the show until I eventually got hired and I was on a plane to Florida.’ [For the series Fifteen.]
RSNG Later on you went to college but then you decided to quit and move to L.A. to pursue acting full-time?
RR ‘I was getting bored in college and one day I just thought I should drive down in my Jeep to L.A. and see what would happen. I spent a lot of time auditioning and expecting that everyone would be ready to hire me. I found out pretty quickly that it wasn't going to be like that and that I was competing against a lot of very talented people who had exactly the same ambitions as I had.’
RSNG What made you stay the course?
RR ‘You’ve got to be willing to tough it out, but I thought acting was a lot more interesting than driving a forklift or any of the other odd jobs I had done up to that point.’
RSNG Now that you’ve hit 40, do you have a different perspective on life?
RR ‘You have this feeling that life is passing you by much faster, suddenly. You being to feel your mortality.’
RSNG You’ve said in the past that you're glad that this kind of success has come later in your career. Can you explain that?
RR ‘What I think is that if Green Lantern had been a massive success and earned $6 billion dollars, maybe I would have got trapped for life playing in superhero movies. I think I've benefited in life from having gone through those peaks and valleys and also made a lot of other films that have been important to me.’
‘I wouldn't have done The Voices or The Woman in Gold if Green Lantern had been a big hit, for example. I think things have worked out very well even if it’s been a struggle at times.’
RSNG Do you think you've become more adept at choosing projects that are right for you?
RR ‘I wasn't as attentive as I should have been earlier in my career in terms of choosing projects. I didn't approach my choices as methodically and seriously as I needed to but in the end you wind up learning from your failures. I feel much more confident and satisfied with the work I'm doing now, and you just have to have faith that you'll make more of the right decisions than the wrong ones.’
‘Having a family means you stop worrying about stupid things and start focusing on the present’
RSNG You have two daughters with your wife Blake Lively – does that make for a big change in your outlook?
RR ‘It’s so much better. Having a family means that you stop worrying about a lot of stupid things and you start focusing on the present. I remember how I used to get bored when people would show their baby pictures, and I wanted to jump out of the window after parents would show me baby photos on their phone displays.’
‘Since I've become a father though, I can't stop taking my own children's photos and showing them to my friends. And when other people show me photos of their children I'm very open to that and I'll start asking questions about how they get their kids to go to sleep and different things about parenting.’
RSNG What’s the toughest thing about raising two daughters?
RR ‘Getting enough sleep is always a big challenge. My wife and I are convinced that our daughters are allergic to sleep. I try to sing to them but usually I'm the one who falls asleep instead.’
RSNG Which character traits do you think your eldest daughter James has inherited from you or her mother?
RR ‘It's hard to say. I'd like her to have Blake's incredible sincerity. When it comes to me, I'd want her to have my sense of sarcasm and tendency to violence, haha. I want her to be able to defend herself!’
RSNG Does both you and your wife Blake being actors create problems when juggling your respective careers?
RR ‘It's not that difficult. We don't allow our film schedules to overlap and we are very conscious of being very present as parents. I come from a big family and so does Blake, and we both want to create a very warm and happy environment for our children.’
RSNG In addition to her acting talents, your wife is very skilled chef – do you ever cook with her?
RR ‘No. The only contribution I make in that regard is smuggling her favourite apple pie across the Canadian-American border, which you can only find in Canada. Each time I do that I'm sweating blood. But since I'm a Hollywood star, the border guards are only looking for drugs and don't pay attention to the pie!’
WHAT NEXT? Watch the official Deadpool 2 trailer for the movie out in cinemas May 17…