Ryan Reynolds and Taika Watiti recently broke the Internet and the fourth wall with the promotional video “Deadpool and Korg React.” The parody featured both of the actors’ respective Marvel characters giving their two cents on the “Free Guy” trailer.
However, Reynolds said he initially pitched Disney a much different short film with Deadpool to open in front of “Free Guy.”
“I had pitched them an idea about doing a short film with Deadpool in front of ‘Free Guy,’ where Deadpool’s interrogating the hunter who killed Bambi’s mom. And that was a no,” Reynolds revealed to Variety at the “Free Guy” premiere at AMC Lincoln Square 13.
Reynolds headlines 20th Century Studios’ new action-comedy as Guy, a bank teller who discovers he’s an NPC (non-playable character) living within an open-world video game. The film heavily features Mariah Carey’s 1995 hit song “Fantasy,” which the actor said serves as “the engine of the movie.”
“I am a huge Mariah Carey fan,” Reynolds said. “It really was one of those weird things that happened naturally. I write to music anyway, and I initially put a song in the script by The Outfield called ‘Your Love.’ It’s an old ’80s tune. It’s great, but it just didn’t have that epic scale I was looking for. And then ‘Fantasy’ just came on my playlist and everything clicked in.”
Reynolds did get in touch with Carey about using the song. “I got to speak with Mariah and talked to her a little bit about how much of an engine and an agent of progress that this song had been in terms of our creative process and the scripts,” he said. “She’s just been awesome about it.”
Lil Rel Howery, who stars in the film as Buddy, said “it was surreal” to act alongside the “Deadpool” actor.
“I’m a big Ryan Reynolds fan, and for him to be able to bounce off me the same way, it was perfect,” Howery said. “The first day, I was nervous. I couldn’t even do my lines because I was too busy staring at him doing like Ryan Reynolds stuff.”
The summer blockbuster also features several cameos from popular streaming personalities, including the pro-gaming superstar Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. While “Free Guy” marks the Twitch streamer’s first blockbuster appearance, Ninja revealed that he didn’t have to shift too far out of his comfort zone to prepare for the role.
“It was literally the exact same thing,” Ninja said. “They pulled up my setup, and they were like, ‘hey, here are the lines. Say them however you want, get the gist of it.’ It wasn’t any different from my streams, actually, I just had to be me.”
“Free Guy” started principal photography in May 2019, which writer-director Shawn Levy said feels like “a creative lifetime ago.” The film was pushed back three times due to the ongoing pandemic — now premiering a total of 13 months from its initial release date. The “Stranger Things” producer said that he and Reynolds used the extra time they were granted “to polish the visual spectacle” of the project.
“The whole idea was to make a movie that promised delight, warmth and just fun at the movies,” Levy said. “And maybe now we could use those escapes more than ever.”