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February 10, 2008

Ryan Reynolds is on his way to Hollywood’s "A-List"

He talks about his latest movie "Definitely, Maybe" to Cole Smithey
By Cole Smithey


Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia Ryan Reynolds is best known for his participation in the bawdy comedy "Van Wilder," and for his muscle-bearing performance opposite Wesley Snipes in "Blade: Trinity." Reynolds’ rising star status in Hollywood has him appearing in writer/director Greg Mottola's ("Suberbad") next film "Adventureland," and his current outing in writer/director Adam Brooks’ romantic comedy "Definitely, Maybe" finds the 31-year-old former fiancé of Alanis Morissette hitting his stride.

For a Valentine’s Day romantic comedy "Definitely, Maybe" hits all the right notes of commitment, honesty and maturity that go into a young father’s explanation to his daughter about the women he dated before she was conceived. Reynolds plays Gen X politico-upstart-turned- advertising-executive Will Hayes whose bumbling ‘90s era dating life forms the story’s backbone. Will’s precocious daughter is perfectly played by Abigail Breslin, but it’s Aussie actress Isla Fisher who keeps the romantic tension bubbling.

I met the humorous but sincere actor at Manhattan’s Regency Hotel recently to find out more about "Definitely, Maybe" and about Ryan’s views on romance, improv, and politics.

CS: What drew you to the role of Will Hayes in "Definitely, Maybe"?

RR: One of the things that attracted me to the part was that it felt like a romantic who-done-it. It felt really unusual, actually for a romantic comedy. I wouldn't even necessarily call it a romantic comedy because the comedy, albeit present in the film, felt sort of incidental. It just felt like a great story though. It was an unpredictable story. I had no idea who Will was going to end up with, or in what fashion. I also feel like the movie is a love letter to broken families. It speaks to something that is so pervasive in society, not just in America but all over the world. Divorce is a very difficult thing to deal with.

CS: Did you gain any insights into how people find the right mate?

RR: I think love is a very complicated thing, you know? It's mercurial, it's weird, it's up and down and all around. Who knows? Everyone's different so I do believe there's a mixture of who and when. In the movie it's discussed that it's not who but it's when.

But I think it's both. A lot of people just aren't ready to have a family and settle down and be married at 40. Some people are ready for it when they're 22 or 23, so it just depends. It depends on where you are and where you are in your life.

Hollywood is a funny place because nobody has to grow up ever. Nobody's disappointed if you're on your 14th marriage--they just applaud for some reason. So it's a weird place. But I think in the real world, for everybody, it's a completely different thing. I think most people get to a place in their life where they feel their most authentic self. They feel like they're the most in their own skin. I thing that's the time that they can meet that other person. They're not hiding anything or hiding from anything.

CS: What’s the most romantic thing you've done for a girl?

RR: I need to lie down. Let me think. The 'most romantic thing I've ever done; that's really subjective. For me, I think the most romantic I've ever done was I met a past girlfriend in London for lunch. I happened to be in L.A. at the time. I just got on a plane with nothing and flew right there and managed to make it for lunch.

CS: If you could send a valentine to somebody, anybody, who would it be?

RR: Valentine's Day is so funny to me. It's like a great way to stimulate the economy. My God. If I could send a valentine to anyone?

Faye Dunaway circa "Little Big Man," you know, I'd probably send her a valentine, maybe a singing telegram. I don't know, something nice.

CS: Do you think it's better or worse for your career to be labeled a pretty boy?

RR: Are you asking me if I'm a pretty boy? I shaved for this. I think it's important to be distinguishable between a man and a woman. I'm a firm believer in that. But yeah, I don't know. That's not something I really focus on. A little powder every now and again--sure. But, uh, no -- I don't really...that's not something I really think about.

CS: Director Adam Brooks encouraged his actors to improv during the shoot. How did that work?

RR: Sometimes you're doing scenes and saying the same dialogue over and over again in different ways, and sometimes you need to cause a stir, create a reaction, and allow the same scene to be different in some respect. So, yeah, we added and changed things wherever necessary. But Adam wrote a phenomenal script. A lot of actors, I think, come up and boast about their improv abilities and how much they input. But at the end of the day you have to have a solid script to have a solid movie. You can improv all you want but that's not going to make it float. Definitely, in moments you want to have fun. There's a certain synergy that Isla and I have that we're just able to capitalize on and play with. We'll say things that are just absolutely unholy to one another and that seemed to kind of spark it up for us.

There's no bad times when you have those three co-stars (Isla Fisher, Rachel Weisz and Abigail Breslin). I had a great time everyday. Sometimes I felt like I was in a romance with New York City. That's a huge character in the movie.

So everyday there'd be a different actress that I'd be working with, and because of that, they'd bring out different things in me. It was kind of a pleasure to work with all three of them. I honestly wish I could single out one in particular, but all three are really incredible.

CS: How did you approach working with Abigail as your character’s daughter?

RR: With Abigail I tried to limit the obscenities with her, which is difficult. Most of these child actors--you never know going in right?--I know they're 10, but they're a child actor. Are they going through a eight ball of coke a day? Do they have a hit album? Some of these kids are just all over the place these days, but Abigail was just such a little girl. She's just a normal kid. And then she just unhinges her jaw and releases this incredible talent everyday. That was amazing. So I found that I really learned more from her than anything. I mean she could go with anything. I could throw her a curveball and she would just answer. She's not acting. She's just in the moment.

A lot of young people have that, and lose that. But I don't think she'll lose that because she's such a normal kid.

CS: How does chemistry come into play with the casting process?

RR: They hire the people they want, you know, and then you meet them. You hang out with them, you spend some time with them, you rehearse. You know, you can't manufacture chemistry, so thank God we just had that. It's something you either have or you don't. But I've learned over the years that the way to have chemistry is to not try to make something. It's just let it be what it is.

A great instance is Abigail. She's a beautiful young girl--a sweet, kind young girl. But she's not the girl that runs and jumps in your arms when you see her. I realized early on that that's not going to be our relationship necessarily--I'm just going to treat her like a young woman. I also feel like that's good parenting as well, so it was really something.

After we continued to shoot together, you almost start to feel like you are their parent, you know. You're not allowed to hit them though. I learned that. (laughs) She can hit me any time she wants.

CS: What’s your next movie?

RR: The next movie I have is a movie with Sandra Bullock ("The Proposal"). But I start that in late March. It's a comedy we're shooting in Boston.

CS: Can you talk a little about your film "Fireflies in the Garden" with Julia Roberts?

RR: It's a movie that's opening the Berlin Film Festival. It's a story about a family basically. It's a family that's disrupted by the death of the matriarch.

CS: What is it like working with someone as iconic as Julia Roberts?

RR: It's incredible to work with her because she's such a class act. I think that's the only way you could survive this long and be that well regarded.

CS: So "Fireflies in the Garden" is a drama. Do you find it any easier to do drama than comedy?

RR: Yeah, in a sense doing a drama is easy. It's a little more straightforward. I mean with comedy your brain can kind of lock up at the possibilities of every moment. There's 80 different ways to time a scene. Timing is a very crucial part of comedy. So, with drama, it's a little bit more fluid.

CS: Do you have any social causes that you support?

RR: In terms of causes that I'm passionate about--there's many, politically speaking. I think somebody has to be critically stupid to not be involved in politics these days. I mean, the fate of the world, I think, hangs in the balance.

I have an organization that I work for called FOMO, which is "Friends of the Mulanje Orphans, which is an African organization that I love. You know I went over there in the summer with John August, who wrote and directed a movie I did called "The Nines." We just went together as a pseudo sort of vacation slash just-going-to-check-it-out. We just really wanted to go see it without any kind of ulterior motive. There's this woman Mary Wadsworth who single-handedly saved four thousand orphans herself. So that's a pretty incredible organization there in Mulanje.

CS: If you could work for any political candidate now, who would it be?

RR: Any political candidate now? Ted Kennedy,,,no uh (laughs) let me think. I think I would probably put my hat.....uh, look I think...OK, I think I'll avoid the land mine right now. I would probably work for Barack Obama. I do enjoy him.

CS: Why?

RR: I met him and I liked what he had to say. Unfortunately not everyone gets to meet these guys, but you get a real sense of them in a way that you can't just from the political rhetoric. And they are all guilty of it. They're all like Cathy dolls pulling thier own strings, but they have to in a sense because that's the way the political landscape is set up.

I met Barack Obama. I swooned.

CS: Have you met Bill Clinton?

RR: No, I haven't. But I would also swoon.

CS: Can you vote here in America?

RR: Not at all. I can't vote at all in America, and you know that doesn't dissuade me from getting involved in it. I think the President is also the President of the most powerful country in the entire world. It affects the entire world.

CS: I understand that Abigail beat you in a dance contest.

RR: There was a dance-off and that was the consensus. But you know I didn't whip out any of my "A"-game dance moves.

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