Ryan Reynolds has emerged as one of Hollywood’s most sought after leading men, especially after two very distinctive recent hit projects that surpassed the $300,000,000 mark at the global boxoffice — the romantic comedy “The Proposal” opposite Sandra Bullock, and the fantasy-adventure “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” in the role of Deadpool.
Now, he plays another iconic superhero in Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern as Hal Jordan, the first human ever to be selected to be a part of the Green Lantern Corps — a brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order. Reynolds discusses his character and the adventure of training for, and creating the film, in the following interview.
Question: Hal Jordan is an interesting superhero in that he’s so flawed and has to find so much inside to become Green Lantern. Can you tell me about him?
Ryan Reynolds: When you meet him he’s a deeply arrogant, kind of reckless, immature, and kind of self-possessed guy. I mean, that’s from my point of view. And this ring that he’s bestowed by this dying alien unbeknownst to him is a gift, which at first seems kind of like a curse. And what I loved about it was that it, in essence, humbles him and forces him to grow up and acknowledge this higher calling.
Q: In some ways, he’s like the classic reluctant hero.
Reynolds: Yeah. It’s not that he doesn’t want to do it, he just doesn’t understand why he was chosen. I mean, given his past experiences, he doesn’t really seem like a likely candidate, at least as far as he’s concerned. So, I think part of the interest for me in the character was this quest to find out why. Why me? Why was I chosen for this thing? And that idea that the ring sees something in him that even he doesn’t, and I think that’s wish-fulfillment to me. That’s something that I think a lot of audiences love and I love about movie-making as well, is unraveling that mystery.
Q: Can you tell me a little about his relationship with Carol, and also your chemistry with Blake Lively?
Reynolds: Well, Hal has a long, storied history with Carol Ferris. That’s his childhood friend, and they dated periodically throughout their relationship together. And Hal and Carol, I think, are in love to some degree. But Hal just keeps getting in his own way, and that makes a relationship with her impossible. But throughout the course of the film, he sort of confronts this and talks to her about this and they reconcile to some degree.
They cast Blake Lively early on. She and I just have great chemistry and that’s something you can’t really invent. It’s either there or it’s not. And that has really helped me and helped her as well immensely.
Q: Did you and she have a lot of stunt-rigs to work with in doing some of the action for this film?
Reynolds: Yeah. I don’t know specifically what her stuff was. She did a little bit of the rig work. But, yeah, I knew it would be a physical kind of movie. I mean, I’m not 20 anymore, so with some of the stuff, it was a little slower getting up off the ground. But I still go for it every time, and that’s part of the job. You get beat up and bruised and battered. But you kind of expect that working on a movie like this.
Q: Did you do any training or preparation once you knew you were going to do this part?
Reynolds: I was training for six or seven months before shooting. I was in gymnastics every day, just kind of trying to get what they called ‘aerial awareness’ for the flying scenes, and just being able to move through the air upside-down and all around and not toss your cookies.
Q: That would be hard to get used to.
Reynolds: But you do. And it’s an interesting lesson. But that stuff’s part of the job. That’s the kind of stuff that actors love to romanticize a little bit too much but it’s just part of the course. On a movie like this, you’ve got to be ready.
Q: Can you tell me about Hal’s relationship with Sinestro and what it was like to work with Mark Strong in building that dynamic on-screen?
Reynolds: Well, early on, these two guys are like oil and water. I mean, Sinestro just feels like human beings in general are an inferior species and they have no business being Green Lanterns, and he can’t quite figure out why the ring chose Hal. Although, I think, on a deeper level, he knows that if the ring chose Hal there was a reason and I think he’s a little threatened by that. You compound this with the fact that the ring’s former bearer was Abin Sur, who died, and that was Sinestro’s closest ally and friend.
So, his ring has now found a worthy replacement, and that was this human—this arrogant, cocky and, in Sinestro’s opinion, stupid human being. So, these guys don’t at all see eye to eye. In this film, Sinestro is actually an ally. So, it’s kind of cool to set the table for that future confrontation. But Mark Strong puts such a weight to everything he does, and he’s such a gentleman in how he works and how he navigates his way on-set and through life. I just love him. He was a true pleasure to work with. I was thrilled when they brought him aboard.
Q: How about Peter Sarsgaard as Dr. Hector Hammond? And they have an interesting relationship, Hector and Hal.
Reynolds: Yeah, they sure do. Hector is also a childhood friend of Hal’s, and they’ve known each other for a very long time. But Hector has always been somewhat covetous of Hal, and even more covetous of his relationship with Carol Ferris. So, Hector’s a guy who’s trying to fill a bucket with holes in the bottom, and I think what Peter brought to the table, which was so interesting with Hector, is that he didn’t play him as a villain or a bad guy.
He’s a somewhat sympathetic character. I think those are the most interesting villains because there’s no such thing as a bad guy who just wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I’m going to hurt people.’ It’s more about having a deeply opposing point of view, and that’s what a great villain is because they have conviction in what they believe in, and they believe it’s right. He brought something very interesting to that guy, and you feel for him as much as you want him to stop. And that’s something that’s great for an audience.
Q: This movie is such a big effects movie, and so much of what you’re doing is going to be in these intergalactic environments. And what were your impressions of the world, Oa?
Reynolds: Oh, it’s amazing. I mean, it’s such a magical place. I can imagine it’s no small feat for a group of artists and graphic designers to create a world that doesn’t exist at all. But what a treat! It must’ve been a really fun job as well. It’s breathtaking! Oa’s probably the most beautiful thing or place I’ve ever seen. I’d like to live there.
Q: If there’s something that you could say to the fans of Green Lantern the comic who have grown up with it or just found it recently, what do you think that they have to look forward to?
Reynolds: They’re going to see all the ancillary Lanterns who are assembled on Oa—they’re going to see all of those characters as well. I mean, there are a lot of surprise appearances by different Lanterns in the Corps, and I think that that’s something that Green Lantern fans are going to really love.
Sometimes they just show up for a brief line and you just see them in the background. So, I think it’s going to be that ability to lean into the movie while watching it and look in the deep background and see some character that you’ve known for 40 or 50 years, which is pretty cool.
Q: At Comic Con last year, there was this magic moment where you recited the Green Lantern oath for a little kid in the audience, and even just watching on tape just gave me chills. Do you feel that pressure to be this embodiment of all these qualities that so many kids look up to?
Reynolds: I think I do to some degree. You have to have a healthy separation from that as well and live your life as an individual separate from the green guy. But, yeah, I think I do. I think it’s kind of nice, though. I’d be more worried about it if there was a great disparity between this guy’s character and my character in my personal life. I’d be a little bit more concerned about that. But I think they’re close enough that I’m okay.
Opening across the Philippines on June 16 in 3D, 2D and regular format, “Green Lantern” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.