Ryan Reynolds: It’s rare to get an original script like Free Guy

Ryan Reynolds, along with director Shawn Levy, talk about Free Guy that's releasing this week
Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy
Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy

Ryan Reynolds who recently voiced a character named Guy in The Croods: A New Age, is back, once again, as a character named Guy in Free Guy which is releasing this Friday. While he has played superhero roles like Deadpool and Green Lantern before, in Free Guy, Reynolds plays a non-player character (NPC) in a game. "This is slightly new for me," says Reynolds. "There's something really wonderful about playing a character who's naive and innocent and is like a four-year-old adult. It's fun to explore everything with new eyes, which is what this character gets to do, and filter that through the prism of comedy, occasional cynicism, and all sorts of other things. I love a playing character who is sort of stepping out of the background into this kind of new, new person."

Excerpts from the conversation:

Free Guy is one of the biggest post-pandemic films to hit the screens. How has the team spirit been?

Shawn: It has been a ride, and it has definitely been a longer wait than we expected. But this movie was such a delight to make, and the making was joyous and fun. We are excited to finally get to share a movie that hopefully has that same fun, delight and warmth that we experienced on the sets. Some of these early reactions have been really kind.

This cast comes to life in the film that feels in some ways like an antidote to much of what we have been living through. The film is about hopefulness and the preservation of innocence in the midst of a cynical world.

How was this film conceived?

Ryan: Shawn and I wanted to team up for a while now, and when I read the script, I sent it to him. The next thing I know, Shawn was in my living room in New York, and we were talking about this world that could be built and how we could make changes to make it relevant. It's hard to make an original film that isn't based on some pre-existing IP, a comic book or a sequel in some regard. You get the script to a place that you feel like it's perfect or it's great and then you have to make it 30 per cent better somehow because you don't have any ability to rely on a pre-existing knowledge or fanbase. So, you really have to kind of go out there and prove it the old-fashioned way.  

Shawn Levy
Shawn Levy

How important was it for you to portray gaming correctly in the film, and how did you go about trying to achieve that?

Shawn: This movie was about threading the needle between wanting to represent the gaming world correctly and accurately. I spoke with a lot of game publishers, coders, game designers, and played a lot of games in pre-production. So, getting that right was really important. But it was also important to make a movie that required no gaming fluency.

Ryan: I really don't think Free Guy is a video game movie. It's like saying, Titanic is a movie about boatmanship. It's a movie about so much more but I love the narrow target we had to hit to create a world that felt so authentic to gamers.

The film seems to have a bunch of characters who do random things like running around with a flame-thrower. Ryan, how challenging was it to do the role of an NPC?

Ryan: I have three daughters under six and two of them have a flame-thrower (laughs). So, I am impervious to all of that. I can actually concentrate on just about anything, even when an entire building is on fire (smiles).

A still from <em><strong>Free Guy</strong></em>
A still from Free Guy

The film also seems to talk about themes such as the friendship between Guy and Lil Rel Howery's Buddy. How did that come about?

Ryan: I think Rel and I, and our respective characters live at this intersection of a bit on the page and a bit in the moment. Everybody in the film is adaptive, and good at adding and creating and building three-dimensional characters. Rel and I just immediately, from the moment we met, clicked. It was great to get out there, mess around and play, sort of form that bond and put it up on the big screen.  

Is there a sequel on the cards?

Shawn: I guess the short answer is yes. I have made things that launched franchises and I have made enough things to know that you just don't know the outcome. So, we have bandied about and flirted with some ideas. But my favourite thing in Free Guy is that there's a possibility of making a new film with Taika Waititi's character Antwan. But if we make Free Guy Two, it will be titled Albuquerque Boiled Turkey (laughs). When you see the film, you will understand the joke.

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