Ryan Reynolds has built his career on likability. So he's just the man to play the titular antihero in the upcoming Deadpool: the mentally unhinged mercenary with a habit of breaking the fourth wall requires an actor that can be endearing and zany, even while he's getting his hands bloody.
Until Deadpool's February 2016 release, audiences can catch a glimpse of Reynolds in the sci-fi thriller Self/less, in theaters now. Directed by Tarsem Singh (The Cell, Mirror Mirror), Self/less is the Faustian tale of a cancer-stricken aristocrat, Damian (Ben Kingsley), who has his consciousness put into the body of Ryan Reynolds as part of an ill-conceived attempt at immortality. In short order, Damian discovers his new body was not grown in a laboratory as promised when the consciousness of its erstwhile owner begins to creep in.
Maxim talked to Reynolds about his role in Self/less, his flair for ultraviolent action scenes, and his excitement to become a death-dealing Marvel antihero in Deadpool.
Were you nervous to work with Ben Kingsley?
I don’t really have any scenes with him, so no. I wouldn’t say I was particularly nervous, but you’re always nervous at the beginning of a movie—the beginning of any job, because it’s like the first day of high school always. You think, “Okay, who’s the prick? Who’s the nice guy? What is the hierarchy like? Who’s gonna be nice? Who’s not?”
How much of the action sequences did they let you do?
They’re usually pretty cool about letting you do as much is safe. I’m not gonna be the guy who’s jumping out of a burning building in a scene simply because you can never be that close anyway. There's trained professionals that know how to do that stuff. But the fighting stuff—I love doing that stuff. I love the choreography of it; I love the kind of dance of it.
You have a lot of emotional scenes in this film. Are those harder to film than the physical stuff?
Oh yeah, for sure. I grew up as an athlete—I loved it, so that stuff is second nature. The emotional stuff is always hard, because it requires vulnerability, and even if you’re acting or betraying vulnerability, you still have to be vulnerable in those moments.
You'll be kicking a lot of ass soon as Deadpool. Why is this character so appealing despite being so unconventional?
It occupies a space unlike anything in the Marvel or DC universe. He’s a character that’s meta; he's a character that knows he’s in a comic book. He’s hyper aware of pop culture, and a lot of the aspects of myself are imbued in that character and vice versa, so it’s both one of the easiest and most challenging roles I’ve ever played, because there’s a tremendous amount of pressure to get it right. Mostly for me and mostly for the directors and our amazing writers, and that was an incredible collaboration to get that opportunity to get what’s exactly on the comic book pages and put that on the screen in a way that the most discerning Deadpool fan will say that that’s authentic.
Will it live up to expectations?
Oh yeah. I think true Deadpool fans are gonna see everything they’ve ever dreamed of and wanted. Our challenge with the studio was putting enough in there for the uninitiated. We found that we could sometimes steer so far into Deadpool territory that people who have never heard of the character before might watch and go, “What is this?” So, we had to really find that balance, but the movie is strictly aimed at our core Deadpool audience, which is why it’s rated R.
See the trailer for the Deadpool trailer here:
Photos by Alan Markfield / Gramercy Pictures