Ryan Reynolds on why he almost had a breakdown during Deadpool

Posted on 2 December 2016
By Khyle Deen
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Ryan Reynolds, who was voted GQ Man of the Year 2016, has spent the last 20 years living like a Mafia don conspiring in the back of a pizza parlour. Reynolds’s career consisted of a couple of decades of small hits and some decent talk-show appearances, then Deadpool came along, which went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time in the United States.

It ended up being an 11-year crusade that spanned multiple regimes at 20th Century Fox that caused Reynolds to have what he described as “a little bit of a nervous breakdown” So why was there such a challenge to get this movie made? GQ spoke to Ryan Reynolds for their Man of the Year issue to find out.

Reynolds spent years trying to get 20th Century Fox to let him portray The Merc With the Mouth, Deadpool. But once the chance finally came around in 2007, the circumstances were less than ideal:

“It was during a writers’ strike, so all my dialogue in X-Men Origins: Wolverine I wrote. I mean, in the stage directions it just said, “Deadpool shows up, talks really fast, and makes a lot of jokes.” At the beginning of that movie, that’s pretty close to Deadpool’s Wade Wilson—we’re in the ballpark with that guy. But it completely departed all canon and reason and he wound up being this abomination of Deadpool that was like Barakapool, with his mouth sewn shut and weird blades that came out of his hands and these strange tattoos and stuff like that. If you watch the movie, I’m actually playing only a small section, and another actor, this gifted stunt performer, is doing the lion’s share of that work. The conversation at the time was “If you want to play Deadpool, this is your chance to introduce him. And if you don’t want to introduce him in this fashion, we’ll have someone else play him.”

While Reynolds had reservations, he wasn’t going to let that happen. And once the film leaked, Reynolds was vindicated:

“That movie leaked online a month and a half before it was supposed to be released, and all these people saw it and were so upset about Deadpool. I was in Mexico with some friends, and I was called by the chief of the studio, who said, ‘You have to get on a plane right now. We need to re-shoot the very end of the movie.” I was such a douche, because I was like, ‘I told you so.’ I still get angry, because I remember saying, ‘You know, there are more Deadpool fans out there than you realize, and they’re not gonna be happy with this.’ I was met with a plausible reason, which was: ‘We don’t have enough time to develop a proper Deadpool suit and make him the fully realized version of the comic, so we’re going with this.’ But I was like, ‘Then don’t do it at all!'”

So they didn’t get the character exactly right in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Reynolds was still looking for a way to play Deadpool properly when he signed on to Green Lantern in 2010:

“I wrote a letter to my executive at Fox saying, ‘I’m gonna take this movie Green Lantern if you guys aren’t gonna make Deadpool. I’m at the altar, about to say ‘I do’ to somebody else, but tell me you want to spend the rest of your life with me, because I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ And they said, ‘Unfortunately, we can’t green-light that movie, and I don’t think it’s ever going to get green-lit.’ So I was like, Okay, I’m gonna go move on with my life, then, I guess.”

In a solid effort to move forward with a Deadpool solo film, Reynolds, along with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, wrote a script 7 years ago, though it wasn’t quite what ended up on-screen in 2016:

“We did every iteration of that script we possibly could come up with to please them and allow them to make the movie that looked vaguely like the movie we wanted to make. And in the end, we got to make the exact movie we wanted to make all along. There were drafts of the script that were sort of masked versions where we thought, Okay, if they let us do this, we’ll actually shoot this, and hopefully they won’t notice. And once the test footage leaked on the Internet, that created kind of a groundswell of support, which was the most invaluable tool we had to get the movie made. And the studio responded to that groundswell by saying, ‘Okay, here’s the absolute bare minimum amount of money that we will consider giving this character. Go make your movie, fuck off, and let us know when it’s done.'”

So Reynolds, Wernick, Reese, and director Tim Miller did indeed fuck off to make the movie. Which was challenging to say the least:

“Making the movie was very, very difficult. It was the most passionate group of individuals I’ve ever worked with in my life. And for whatever reason, that mercurial crazy burgoo of people is what made this thing work so well, not just because I had this vision and I saw it this way and it had to be this way. It worked because we all had that feeling. But there were vaguely scary fights in the post-production process that escalated quickly. Luckily, everybody’s grown up and at the end of the day enjoys and loves each other.”

“I know when I need to exert control, and I know when I need to let go of it. I’m not gonna go and sit with Tim Miller and say, “The visual effects of Deadpool need to be done this way.” The man is a visual-effects wizard. But there are character and tone things that I know really well. And I’ve also been with this thing the longest out of anybody, aside from the guys that wrote the comics. Eleven years I’ve been trying to get this Sisyphus rock up the hill, and it kept rolling back on top of me. So I’m gonna be all the fuck over it from the moment it starts to the moment it finishes.”

When Reynolds, Wernick, Reese, and Miller thought they were done with the film, they soon realised that the project was not yet “finished”:

“It didn’t get any better as the movie was cut together and Fox was showing it. Some people at the studio were still scratching their heads like, What is this? Is this gonna go over like a lead zeppelin or is this gonna fly like the Goodyear blimp? But we had a great shepherd in Emma Watts, who actually went to the high school next to mine in Vancouver and is now one of the people running 20th Century Fox. She came in and saw Deadpool for what it was and what it could be, not just now but in the long term. She really helped us execute the version that we needed to put on the screen. Which is, you know, pretty filthy.”

“Creative differences” are being cited as the reason Miller will not be directing Deadpool 2, though Reynolds remains magnanimous:

“All I can really add is that I’m sad to see him off the film. Tim’s brilliant and nobody worked harder on Deadpool than he did.”

Deadpool 2 is reportedly scheduled for release in March 2018