Ryan Reynolds on Definitely, Maybe: The RT Interview

One-half of the guys from the Pizza Place talks about his latest film.

by | February 13, 2008 | Comments

In his latest film,
Definitely, Maybe
Ryan Reynolds plays Will, a father in the midst of a divorce telling his daughter (Abigail Breslin) the story of how he fell in love with her mother. The trick is, this romantic comedy is also a mystery, as neither his daughter nor the audience knows which of his leading ladies ended up being his wife.
Opening February 14, Definitely, Maybe features an all-star cast that
includes Isla Fisher,
Rachel Weisz,
Elizabeth Banks,
and Derek Luke. RT caught up with Reynolds in San Francisco to chat about
child actors, avoiding the paparazzi, and his hunger for U.S. politics.

Definitely, Maybe combines many different genres — romance, comedy, mystery,
drama. When you first read the script, what genre drew you to the film?

Ryan Reynolds: I’ve been calling it a romantic whodunit . That’s what drew it to me. It’s a
romantic comedy of course, but it’s also unpredictable, which is completely unusual. I guess in a sense it defies genre, and the
romantic comedy genre in particular. I would say the best way to describe it is that it feels like a love letter to broken homes… which is also kind of funny.

Like Breslin, you started your career at a very young age and the two of you have a lot of scenes together…

RR: I was just a couple of years older than her when I started — I of course wasn’t nearly as accomplished as she is now — but it was great. I firmly believe that you can’t manufacture chemistry with anyone, let alone a kid. I just spent time with her, we hung out, and we hit it off, and thank God we did. But I was prepared to put whatever our dynamic was onscreen. Even if she hated me, that’s what we’d put onscreen, because you can’t lie about that. Everything that’s out there when you’re watching the film is authentic, it is exactly our dynamic. I love her.

Definitely, Maybe almost seems like a throwback romantic comedy, more like
Annie Hall
27 Dresses
. Was this
[writer-director] Adam Brooks‘s vision from the start?

RR: Yeah, I think he wanted to write the “anti-romantic comedy” in a sense. He wanted to do something different, he was tired of the same old, same old. I think it was a bit of a battle cry for him. He was pretty excited to get this made.

Do you get a lot of scripts like this?

RR: No, I don’t get a lot of romantic comedy scripts. I get comedy scripts, the last two years I’ve gotten all kinds of scripts, it’s great. Typically,
romantic comedies are female driven, not only in its viewership, but also in the actual film. The actors are usually female protagonists. So it was definitely unusual.

Now that you’ve done romantic comedy, horror, raunchy comedies and dramas, do you have a favorite?

RR: I find that drama is the easiest. I really rely on the words more than I do in
comedy. When I do comedy, my brain sort of locks up in the infinite possibilities. That’s where I get sort of lost. I think, “Oh, there are six other jokes that we could say here!” I feel more at home with
drama lately, maybe it’s because it’s easier. I think it’s also because I’m older. When I was younger, I was reticent to be vulnerable on camera and everything I was doing was just a really finely honed defense mechanism from when I was a kid, and I was now using this to make a living on camera. I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve managed to soften a little bit in that regard and feel a little bit more comfortable being vulnerable. Not just in my personal life, but in film as well.

I heard you had quit acting for a while, and ended up in Los Angeles on a bit of a

It wasn’t like I was having a very illustrious career up in Canada. I was doing all of these movie-of-the-weeks with all of these ex-Dynasty stars. It was depressing. I would have rather gone to university or become a teacher, so I did quit, I stopped acting for about a year. At the time, a friend said he was going to L.A. and asked me if I wanted to come. I was doing improv comedy at this point, and thought I would go with him and join The Groundlings. I thought I would just come in and say, “I’m ready”, but of course — they said “F–k off pipsqueak, you have to take the course like everybody else.” I didn’t have the money or the time to do that, since I wasn’t a citizen. I was there for a short time and got an agent who sent me on an audition for a show called Two Guys and a Girl and I got that.

How have you handled your rise to fame?

RR: I wouldn’t say it happened quickly at all. I look at some of these other guys and they do one movie and then they’re on the cover of Vanity Fair. A long time ago, they would really take time and cultivate their movie stars and now it seems to be a much shorter process. I’m pretty happy with how it has gone, because it happened a little more slowly than most. It has been a slower ride for me than it has been for some of these other guys, and it would be scary for me if it had been an overnight thing, because the expectations are just though the roof.

Is it challenging to build a career based on your films, rather than crazy paparazzi attacks?

RR: That’s a really difficult thing to balance, I don’t have the crazy paparazzi attack, but I also don’t court that. I think to some degree, you really have to court that in your life. I think this is much darker thing that just celebrity, for some people it’s a sickness. I think they literally feel invisible unless they have 400 people teaming outside, so I think it’s indicative of something much darker than just celebrity. Also, I don’t want to know anything about actors. I want it to be a mystery, I want to watch them onscreen and have them be a blank canvas. If they save the world onscreen, then that’s fantastic, but I don’t want to know what they eat every night, or who they’re sleeping with, or their religious preferences. I don’t care. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t happen to people who don’t want it. I’m not saying that everybody wants it. But the people who are complaining about it are also the ones who are eating outside at The Ivy. Of course that’s going to happen — you’re eating at the f—ing Ivy!

Your character in Definitely, Maybe works in for the Bill Clinton campaign. How did you prepare for that aspect of the role?

RR: For people that are my age, I think that Clinton was their president. He was their JFK. I don’t think since Trudeau in Canada, had we had such a charismatic celebrity leader. I’ve always been a bit fascinated with U.S.
politics. During my blink-and-you-missed-it career in college, I studied U.S. history and I loved studying U.S.
presidents. It was the most fascinating thing for me. Mostly because it’s so gossipy, their lives are so sordid.

Especially Clinton.

RR: Oh my God, he’s the king of it. So in preparing for the film, I read as much as I could about various U.S.
presidents that influenced Bill Clinton. I read all of the Clinton biographies — it’s like reading US Magazine without the pictures. That’s really the life of politics these days. It was really fun and exciting and created this voracious appetite for politics in me. Especially now, this election has been like the Super Bowl every week for me.

How much of the film was improvised, how much leeway did you have?

RR: We had a bit of leeway, I felt like I had less than usual. This was a great exercise in biting my tongue because my sense of humor tends to go to a similar place that maybe Isla’s maybe would. I feel like that would create a character that was too knowing. I really had to sell a character that was nice, and it was really difficult to sell that naiveté if I were to adlib a lot on play, so I had to be careful with that. It was really tough to kind of stay in that place. But it really pays of, because you really invest in the character and his journey. If he was wisecracking and too knowing, you wouldn’t really empathize and see where he’s coming from, and you wouldn’t understand where he got lost.

Your character goes through a lot of emotions that males typically go through in relationships. Was there aspect of your character that you related to the most?

RR: Oh yeah, to some degree I felt like this film was a mirror image of my life at that time. I had a tremendous amount of ups and downs in my career, personal life, and romantic life. For me, it was hard to find a spot of the film that wasn’t relatable.

With divorce at such a high rate, I think a lot of people will be able to
relate to the Breslin character. How did you react to that when you were filming?

RR: Aside from really exploring it in an adult way, it really showcases that there is hope for healing and moving on. The trick was that Adam took the subject matter and made it kind of funny, which was the genius of it. But it was still hard to read the script without even bawling. So many people have experienced what divorce is like, especially children. I think many children have this notion that no matter what, they just want their parents to stay together — even if they are unhappy — just keep it together. I think it was really wonderful to see that subject handled in a really adult and mature way, basically expressing to this little kid that it’s okay that we’re apart. We find happiness elsewhere.

Tag Cloud

2019 Binge Guide Food Network unscripted independent DirecTV ghosts Bravo Brie Larson finale OneApp sag awards comics jamie lee curtis cats FX chucky Martial Arts universal monsters Trailer werewolf Grammys Nickelodeon Fall TV name the review Spring TV adventure Awards supernatural Video Games Amazon Studios Character Guide GoT romance asian-american Warner Bros. Marvel Studios canceled space Christmas Emmys 2016 Rom-Com Disney+ Disney Plus Disney harry potter Toys diversity Disney Plus PBS Britbox YouTube X-Men canceled TV shows SundanceTV facebook Pixar Hulu Amazon Prime Video directors Oscars Walt Disney Pictures IFC Films LGBT series golden globes screenings breaking bad Tarantino CNN ABC Family cops mission: impossible theme song a nightmare on elm street Comedy MTV 007 adaptation stoner disaster Lucasfilm Paramount Network Sundance Now Paramount FXX Film Festival Tubi Election romantic comedy Nominations Rocketman anime Mystery Trophy Talk TV Land Discovery Channel Tumblr VH1 Heroines Turner Classic Movies Syfy Universal richard e. Grant reboot cults Shudder dragons best Lifetime crime thriller Valentine's Day 20th Century Fox science fiction Pride Month AMC Reality dceu American Society of Cinematographers Amazon Prime strong female leads south america foreign Photos 71st Emmy Awards cinemax elevated horror talk show Marvel Black Mirror RT History crime mutant Apple TV Plus doctor who Funimation Winners dogs Comedy Central 4/20 medical drama Mary poppins criterion ratings TNT Watching Series NYCC Comics on TV GLAAD Summer 2015 joker Reality Competition TBS ITV nature political drama Thanksgiving Mary Poppins Returns YouTube Premium docudrama Academy Awards Awards Tour spain Sundance TV cancelled TV series Shondaland Quiz BBC America justice league technology dark See It Skip It what to watch Superheroes scary movies mockumentary Drama Family DGA halloween Trivia kids Epix MSNBC Musical game of thrones comiccon YA zombie Anna Paquin cancelled Amazon Captain marvel Mudbound latino Sundance christmas movies A&E Star Wars Adult Swim period drama die hard BBC Cartoon Network franchise Black History Month Ellie Kemper Sony Pictures rotten movies we love zombies cancelled TV shows spy thriller Ovation Box Office WGN RT21 CW Seed TV BET Superheroe New York Comic Con teaser History movies USA Vudu The Walking Dead sitcom Horror social media El Rey Comic Book Mary Tyler Moore The Witch slashers spinoff Turner hispanic Disney Channel Hallmark Masterpiece Year in Review APB cars Action Music Classic Film versus Women's History Month 2018 Netflix WarnerMedia CBS All Access Biopics aliens TIFF Pop Spike comic PaleyFest A24 Hear Us Out Sci-Fi Pet Sematary crossover streaming natural history Writers Guild of America child's play psycho Avengers President tv talk television E! Disney streaming service cartoon miniseries renewed TV shows comedies Peacock TCA thriller Logo Musicals Premiere Dates casting Spectrum Originals OWN SDCC Super Bowl Country E3 ABC Animation blockbuster Rock Emmy Nominations based on movie sequel Sneak Peek Hallmark Christmas movies animated Lionsgate cooking true crime Fox News war NBC Stephen King Marathons composers Crunchyroll Western hist Esquire Rocky free movies VICE Arrowverse Fantasy Infographic spider-man spanish language Holidays MCU binge Winter TV Mindy Kaling First Look IFC Apple TV+ Crackle police drama SXSW Best and Worst quibi festivals Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 2020 concert parents Elton John Tomatazos travel Extras sports politics toy story anthology Starz USA Network Cosplay zero dark thirty YouTube Red The CW Freeform TCA 2017 reviews serial killer dc National Geographic Star Trek Polls and Games Interview Cannes Red Carpet San Diego Comic-Con CMT Lifetime Christmas movies DC Universe Ghostbusters psychological thriller Travel Channel Opinion HBO Max biography Apple LGBTQ Calendar Schedule witnail cancelled television First Reviews crime drama Song of Ice and Fire FOX book Pirates Nat Geo robots green book TCA Winter 2020 TV renewals Showtime 21st Century Fox Chernobyl Columbia Pictures award winner 45 Countdown ESPN historical drama blaxploitation stand-up comedy Chilling Adventures of Sabrina screen actors guild Film Teen Television Academy Baby Yoda The Arrangement boxoffice Creative Arts Emmys batman Pop TV Kids & Family TCM CBS movie 24 frames Dark Horse Comics revenge The Purge game show Podcast DC Comics Certified Fresh documentary GIFs Marvel Television DC streaming service TLC vampires 2017 transformers TruTV Netflix Christmas movies Acorn TV dramedy Set visit Endgame discovery children's TV FX on Hulu Holiday video HBO indie singing competition