Ryan Reynolds is one of the last old school movie stars, an actor and producer not only respected for his talent but also his off-screen persona that only enhances his likability. He’s been a professional actor since the age of 13 and seen his films gross more than $5 billion at the box office. He also co-owns a Welsh football team, has a stake in a gin company and is really, really good at social media, not only to promote his projects but also to solidify his image as a genuinely funny, self-aware personality.
American Cinematheque board chair Rick Nicita declared “Ryan Reynolds is a Renaissance Man 2.0 for our times” when announcing he would be the recipient of this year’s American Cinematheque Award, to be presented at a ceremony Nov. 17 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The ceremony will also honor Blumhouse and its founder and CEO, Jason Blum, with the 2022 Power of Cinema Award.
Asked about receiving the honor, which has been awarded in recent years to the likes of Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Charlize Theron, and Reynolds can’t help but be a little self-effacing.
“Well, I’m starting to accept the notion I’ve been around a while,” he says. “It’s a little startling to be recognized this way. And in this company. To be honest, I’m much better at deflecting attention like this. But I suspect I’ll have to hit this one head on.”
By all appearances, Reynolds got off to a strong start and has been steadily working since his American TV breakthrough in 1998’s “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” and taking on the titular role in the 2003 comedy “Van Wilder.” But there were bumps along the way to superstardom — no one has poked more fun at his first attempt as a superhero lead with 2011’s “Green Lantern” than Reynolds himself. Yet through it all he’s managed to maintain his sense of humor and a strong sense of who he is, something he believes is not uncommon to the industry. “I think people enter this industry with a baseline sense of self. Fame or success or defeat and tragedy don’t necessarily change anything,” he notes.
“I think those aspects amplify one’s sense of self. If you meet somebody famous who seems like they’re a bit of a dick … chances are they were a bit of a dick before they found themselves working in the entertainment industry. That’s just my experience. I’m not saying it’s the rule of law.”
But Hollywood is a tough game and Reynolds openly admits: “I always have moments of considering doing something else.” But it doesn’t stop there. He continues, “So I’m pretty sure I did them. I started a marketing company, a holding company and two diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives along with buying a fifth tier Welsh Football club. Those things seem like they may be very different than showbiz, but it’s all under the umbrella of storytelling. There are so many ways to tell a story. And I feel obscenely lucky to have the room to keep trying stuff.”
Speaking of new things, Reynolds is set to appear in his first-ever musical, “Spirited,” an updated version of the classic Charles Dickens tale “A Christmas Carol” with Reynolds as a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge and Will Ferrell as his Ghost of Christmas Present. The film, which premiered at AFI Fest, hits Apple TV+ on Nov. 18.
“I’d never done a musical before. I was scared. With good reason,” Reynolds says. “But I’d also never worked with Will Ferrell either. And that was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I adore Will. The person as well as the performer. And they’re both distinctly different. It was a bucket list moment for me.”
Reynolds is also set to appear in John Krasinski’s new directorial effort and, of course, a third “Deadpool” film which he himself refers to as “The Deadpool/Wolverine film,” referencing the announcement that Hugh Jackman will reprise his iconic character opposite Reynolds. “Can’t wait,” is all Reynolds will/can say about that team-up.
Asked about what draws him to a project, Reynolds replies, “Sometimes it’s the story. Sometimes it’s the people. When things really work, it’s all of the above. I count ‘Deadpool’ 1 and 2 in that category, along with ‘Free Guy’ and ‘Adam Project.’ When you get to make movies with the people you love, it’s what I imagine cocaine feels like.”
WHAT: The American Cinematheque Awards
WHEN: Nov. 17
WHERE: The Beverly Hilton Hotel