Interview: Ryan Reynolds spills all
What was it that attracted you to the role?
When I initially met [director] Martin Campbell, I don't know it was for Green Lantern, but he asked if we could have a little sit-down. I think he just signed on to the movie and I went to go meet him as a fan. We hung out and then he took me for a little spin up in the art department. I looked at some of the Green Lantern imagery and I was immediately turned into a believer and I pursued the role after that.
Were you familiar with the Green Lantern before?
I knew the basic premise, I didn't know the mythology. I didn't know how rich that history went; I had no idea it was a 70-year-old character. So, it really was a learning process as I went.
Tell us about your character Hal Jordan…
Hal Jordan is a guy who is a bit reckless, rudderless, kind of cocky and arrogant and some might even argue a little suicidal when we meet him. He's a test pilot and he's just kind of lost. A dying alien crash lands on planet Earth and as he's dying he bestows this ring on Hal. Hal doesn't really know why he's been given this ring or what its purpose is and he’s eventually transported to an alien planet called Oa, where he finds out that he's about to become an intergalactic elite police officer. This gift, this ring, really creates a real sense of humility for him and a purpose and in turn transforms him, not only into a Green Lantern, but one of the greatest Green Lanterns of all time.
The planet of Oa, your costume and half the characters for this film were created in CGI. What was it like to use your imagination so much in the shooting of the film?
When you're shooting a movie like this it’s imagination and blind faith. You have to look at the people involved, the art department and the people shooting the film. You have to look at exactly what they're doing and you just have to have faith that they're going to create a living, breathing universe around you that is a spectacular and mind-boggling and they certainly did. It was six solid months after I'd finished the principal photography before I even saw what it was that they were doing. So, my memories of shooting the movie are typically on a blue screen stage in Louisiana looking at tennis balls and basketballs and far off X's on walls! It was a real experience for me; it was something I had never done before, I'd never been a part of a movie like that, that required so much imagination.
Did you enjoy it?
I loved it! I thought it felt a little bit like theatre, like my roots in theatre. I felt you have to imagine this world and then experience it in your eyes. It was a challenge at first, but after a while you get into it.
What did you think when you saw the finished film?
Oh, I was blown away. The action aside, the artistry on so many levels was amazing - so many people from Lord of the Rings were working on the movie, and just an incredibly talented crew and the work that they did was spectacular.
We heard that you have a fear of flying, which is ironic since you play a pilot. What were those sequences like to film?
Well, they were relatively simple. They had fully embodied cockpits on the sound stage on a pivoting head, so it really just felt like a ride at Disneyland; I mean they were shooting it, but they would turn and they would jar you pretty heavily. So after the end of the day your fillings are fallout, you're falling out; you're ready to go home.
Flying on the wires was the stuff that was a real challenge at first, as you're going 60 feet per second, 200 or 300 feet up in the air and oh boy, you have to get used to that real quick!
How many times did you do it?
Hundreds of times. Hundreds of times I was slung across the sound stage or straight up in the air or wherever, it was amazing to see these rigs that they built, because they were so articulate. You could move in ways that you'd never imagine you could do on wires and the technology is such that you could really bring a movie like Green Lantern to life now in a way that you couldn't, even I think five years ago.
In the scene where Hal first flies as the Green Lantern, is the expression on your face acting or real?
Oh, totally real. That's easy, that stuff, no acting required. Just get in the rig, let them fly you up 300 feet in the air 100, 150 miles per hour and, let your face do the talking!
Do you still have a fear of flying?
Well, I don't have a fear of wires. I still have a little issue with getting on aeroplanes, but I'm on aeroplanes all the time, so I have to get used to that.
You've overcome your fears?
Yes, I have exactly. That's the theme in the movie.
How did you prepare for the role?
Yeah, most of it was functional rather than aesthetic. You're doing a lot of stuff just so you don't get hurt, so you can just keep going. I don't like to ever say ‘no’ to a director, so if you need to do 50 takes of me falling off a ledge onto cement, I want to be able to do it. For the most part I think I made good on that - I did a lot of gymnastics and a little bit more unorthodox stuff than I would normally do for an action movie.
I heard you had a special diet as well. Is that true?
That's kind of what you do for movies like this. You're trying to get a little bit bigger, you're trying to embody this comic book character that is drawn as a ridiculous example of a human specimen. You're trying to meet this objective, often times feudally, but you go for it anyway, you have to eat a lot of stuff that you wouldn't normally enjoy eating.
How did you manage to stick to that diet in New Orleans?
It was the ultimate torture! It was quite the paradox for me, as I was over there and every great restaurant in the world is within walking distance; and I can't really enjoy anything.
This is the second comic book character you've played. What is it about these characters that are so attractive to actors?
I think it's the archetypes, you're working with people that are seemingly normally flawed, like everybody else, and that they're bestowed an incredible gift. That gift is transformative, not just in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense and that I think is what attracts a lot of actors. It's a very simple premise, a very simple storyline, a very simple character arc really. I think it attracts a lot of actors, because it's fun to play, you can see the stages as you read the script.
Blake Lively plays Carol, with whom Hal has a long history. What was it like to work with her and shoot some of those scenes?
They're old friends. There's a real kind of connection there, it's a real love interest as well, but it's like a lot of love interests, it's complicated. It's not something that either is willing to put themselves on the line for just yet, so as the film progresses and the stakes get more and more dire, you start to abandon some of your usual stuff that you would normally use as a defense with someone, so you get closer. Blake was fantastic to work with, just amazing. She's that younger, newer generation of actors that's coming up right now, it's really fun to be around her and watch her experience that, all this newness for her.
How did you like working with Peter Sarsgaard?
Oh, Peter's great. I mean he's just such an outstanding actor in general. He's a good guy, but what he brought to that character, to Hector Hammond - he was funny, he was charming, he was heartbreaking, it's everything you want. It's sort of sad that he has to play the villain, because by the end of the movie you really feel for him.
The film has such a fantastic cast; do you think that was down to Martin?
Yeah, I think so. It's absolutely due to his pedigree. It's also an attractive project, people want to be in movies that are seen by a lot of people, and this is one of those movies. The mythology is interesting and I think people really gravitate to this idea of will versus fear.