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Green Lantern – Ryan Reynolds on his first real iconic superhero role

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Green Lantern - Ryan Reynolds
Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds) © 2011 Warner Bros

 

Ryan Reynolds has split his time between big studio movies like The Proposal and X-Men Origins: Wolverine and independent films such as Buried and Adventureland.

He’s back in big studio mode with Green Lantern, playing Hal Jordan, a gifted and cocky pilot, the first human ever selected to be a part of the Green Lantern Corps, warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order. Each Green Lantern wears a green ring that grants him the ability to create anything his mind can imagine.

When a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, it is Hal Jordan, along with his fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart, Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) who must save the Earth and mankind.

I’ve heard that you were kind of a fan boy yourself; you read a lot of comic books. What’s your background in general with comics?

Green Lantern - Ryan Reynolds
Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) © 2011 Warner Bros

Growing up I read a bit of X-Men stuff. My brother introduced me to Deadpool, which is a character I love and I got a great opportunity to play him in more of an ancillary sense in a film, which was great, because it allowed me to jump in and play him, but then not be committed to too much beyond that.

I do have that film that’s in development still, and we’ll see what happens with that, but for the most part, Green Lantern’s the first real iconic superhero role that I’ve ever had the great opportunity to play, and I’m pretty damn grateful for that.

Did you ever have any doubt about playing this particular superhero?

Green Lantern - Temuera Morrison and Ryan Reynolds
Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) and Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) © 2011 Warner Bros

Of course, I have trepidation playing any role. You don’t get into a plane unless you have a great pilot.

Martin Campbell was attached (as director), and the opportunity to work with him was great, was huge for me. Also you look at who Martin’s hired as well, there’s Dion Beebe (Director of Photography), through Grant Major (Production Designer) and Ngila Dickson (Costume Designer), and all of these incredible talents that were involved, it was impossible to not want to play this guy.

Also, I just wanted to learn. I wanted to see what it was like to do a film like this. I had never, ever, done anything that involved this much post-production, and so I was excited to see how that would all pan out.

How did you want to make this superhero different from the batch of superheroes currently on the big screen?

Green Lantern - Ryan Reynolds and Geoffrey Rush
Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds) and Tomar-Re (Voiced by Geoffrey Rush) © 2011 Warner Bros

A lot of the current iterations of superheroes are a little bit darker and a little bit more serious in tone. The thing I distilled from diving into that mythology and that universe is that there’s a tone that’s a little bit different – it’s a bit of a throwback in that sense, there’s a lot of fun with the character.

He’s not a character that’s overly funny, but he’s witty. I always say he’s that guy who can throw a punch, tell a joke, and kiss a girl. There’s something really iconic and fun about that guy, because anything’s possible with that guy.

For me, there wasn’t any particular narrative or storyline because we were telling an origin story in this film. It was mostly just tone, mostly just finding out who Hal Jordan was, and also distilling what it is that the fan boys loved about this character, making sure that that can be found up on screen.

If they love it, there’s a good chance that a broader audience is also going to love it, who’s being introduced to this character for the first time.

You have a fear of flying, and this film is about the struggle between fear and will. How did you use your will to overcome your fear in terms of doing the wire work in this?

Green Lantern - Ryan Reynolds
Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds) © 2011 Warner Bros

I was initiated earlier; the third day, they basically fired me 200 feet in the air at 60 feet per second, and that got me over it right quick. But then after a while you’re playing on these wires.

The technology for that alone is amazing now. You’re moving left and right, and up and down, so I was actually getting, dare I say, a little cocky with it by the end.

The fear of flying is a plane thing, that’s a whole, separate issue. I’m being told to get on a commercial airliner and trust a drunk pilot, and I don’t like that, and I can’t see what’s in front of me.

Maybe there’s some control issues there mixed with a few little daddy issues, I don’t know. This is not the right place to be talking about this!

What is the difference between doing a small, independent movie like Buried, to this high-budget Hollywood film?

Green Lantern - Ryan Reynolds
Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) about to get the message from the lantern © 2011 Warner Bros

The two movies are more similar than not, actually, in the sense that Buried involved a lot of imagination. The people that I was talking to on the phone the entire time, they’re not on the phone with me. Green Lantern didn’t feel too dissimilar.

I’d never worked on a movie that required this much imagination. It felt like I was a kid again; everything you’re seeing in this world, you have to imagine.

Granted, we do have amazing people that are working behind the scenes, Grant Major, not the least of which who’s our crack production designer who created a lot of the worlds for Lord of the Rings, would come down with visual references so I had an idea what I was looking at.

I had to imagine what that is, and then express it through my eyes for the audience, and that was a big challenge. I was definitely happy to be able to get up and walk around, even if I had to wear a crash test dummy suit, for the most part.

How did you feel seeing the final product?

For me it was incredible, because I was shooting in basically a box for a good portion of the movie that was blue screen. To see these immensely talented artists, who are world builders, create this universe around me that I’m interacting with in a very real way was mind blowing. I’ve never been a part of anything like that.

It was a feat of engineering unto itself. That was pretty spectacular, that first time. I saw it in 3D as well; I was practically weeping. It was pretty incredible.