Ryan Reynolds learns to walk a fine line in The Green Lantern
LOS ANGELES—Can a person be superbuff and funny at the same time? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, for one, would like to know. Because the conventional wisdom is that an Adonis-like figure and a gift for yucking it up go together like nuts and gum.
Then again, there’s Ryan Reynolds, slaying a room full of journalists at a Beverly Hills hotel news conference for his starring role in the superhero flick The Green Lantern. He’s cut. He’s hilarious. He’s the world’s sexiest man. He even manages to drop a surreal reference to the show Growing Pains.
“There’s a cameraman right above me, this guy Frosty, who’s also a stuntman,” he begins—describing his third day on-set, when he was being catapulted hundreds of feet into the air on a thin wire at 60 feet a second—“and somewhere in the back of my subconscious, I would just scream out ’80s sitcom characters. I don’t know why that happened, but I’d get to the top and I’d be, like, ”˜Alan Thicke!’ You know. ”˜Judith Light!’ I don’t know why, to this day, but it just sort of accessed some weird brain cell that was affected by my early high-school drug use.”
Would the Vancouver-born actor like to elaborate on the “early high-school drug use”?
“No, we’re good,” he shoots back, apparently possessed for the moment by his Van Wilder persona.
Reynolds manages to walk an admirable line in the $150-million movie (now playing) between his own flip sensibility and the physicality required by his role as Hal Jordan, the initially reluctant newest recruit into the universe-wide police force known as the Green Lantern Corps. He’s a natural comedian, but it’s not like he was born with a six-pack, and he says he spent about a year of lead time getting ready for his “notorious” director, Martin Campbell.
“You’ll do a stunt that you just can’t believe that you’ve just completed,” he says, “and you’ll literally want them to show you the film back so you can put it on your epitaph, and Martin will come up to you and say, ”˜Now let’s do it again full speed.’?”
Reynolds’s efforts in meeting the challenges of such a demanding role have a parallel in the movie’s weirdly Nietzschean cosmology, in which will (good) and fear (bad) do battle on a universal scale. “I always felt like if I didn’t have a natural knack for something, I could always out-discipline the competition, as it were,” he says. “I’d always work as hard as I possibly could, sometimes to my own detriment in my personal life. For me, willpower and discipline are very synonymous.”
The wit, meanwhile, just occurs naturally. Jordan’s superhero power is that he can basically conjure anything he thinks of. Reynolds says he had his own take on how the Green Lantern might deploy that talent. “When you show up for your first meeting and say, ”˜Okay, can he manifest expertly lit French porn?’ That’s just thrown out right away for the most part,” he says, “and then you just stay quiet after that and do what they tell you to do.”