Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy on time travel and "The Adam Project"
Have you ever wished you could go back in time for a do-over?
In the new Netflix film "The Adam Project," Ryan Reynolds is Adam Reed, a time-traveling fighter pilot from the future who crash-lands back to Earth in 2022, and meets the person he's spent years trying to outgrow: his 12-year-old self.
The 45-year-old Reynolds also produced the film, along with director Shawn Levy. For both, the story was irresistible.
"This idea of, if you could go back and actually meet your inner child, actually meet the self you used to be, what would that be like?" Levy said. "What would that be like for you? What would that be like for that kid?"
In the movie, both versions of Adam get the chance to make peace with their long-lost dad, played by Mark Ruffalo. For the real-life Reynolds, the notion of sorting out emotional baggage with one's father all hits very close to home.
Reynolds is the youngest of four boys from Vancouver, Canada. Their dad was a former cop who ran a very tight ship. "I don't want to paint this picture that it was this, like, horrible place to grow up. But it was very tense," he said.
Correspondent Tracy Smith asked, "Because of your dad?"
"Yeah, my dad was a very tense guy. And, you know, I used to sort of describe him as, like, a skin-covered landmine. I attribute some of why I'm good at my job from that. I'm perceptive. I watch carefully for danger. And, you know, as an adult, that can really come in handy."
Reynolds has been in more than three dozen films, and being a sensitive guy often made him a natural to play the sensitive guy, like in 2009's "The Proposal," opposite Sandra Bullock. But if rom-coms put Reynolds on the Hollywood map, "Deadpool" is what made him a global superstar. The 2016 film, with Reynolds as a disfigured superhero in a mask, was a monster hit, but only after it sat in limbo for years.
Smith asked, "You fought for more than a decade to get that movie made. What'd you tell yourself through those years?"
"You know, it wasn't like I was whippin' out a broadsword and heading up the hill to fight my way through the executives again," he said. "It was, new leadership would come in, and I would go do the song-and-dance."
"But wasn't there a moment where you thought, 'Okay, I'm gonna stop doing the song-and-dance, like, this is just not gonna happen for me'?"
"Yeah. I think it was about a year-and-a-half before we got the green light for the movie."
But before he gave up completely, this test footage of the movie was leaked on the internet:
Fans went crazy, and that helped convince film bosses to give Reynolds the go-ahead to make the real movie. "Deadpool" I and II made more than $1.5 billion at the box office. But Reynolds says that, like his character in the movies, his self-assurance is just an act.
Smith asked, "So, you've talked about struggling with anxiety."
"Uh-huh. Yeah, I've had anxiety my whole life really. And you know, I feel like I have two parts of my personality, that one takes over when that happens.
"When I would go out on, like, 'Letterman,' back in the day, I was nervous. But I remember I'd be standing backstage before the curtain would open, and I would think to myself, 'I'm gonna die. I'm literally gonna die here. The curtain's gonna open and I'm just gonna be, I'm just gonna be a symphony of vomit,' just, like, something horrible's gonna happen! But as soon as that curtain opens – and this happens in my work a lot too – it's like this little guy takes over. And he's like, 'I got this. You're cool.' I feel, like, my heart rate drop, and my breathing calm, and I just sort of go out and I'm this different person. And I leave that interview going, 'God, I'd love to be that guy!'"
"Wow. I'd love to be that guy, that Ryan Reynolds guy?"
"Sure. Yeah. Maybe no one else would!"
Besides his flourishing move career, Reynolds also has stakes in businesses like a cell phone company, a gin maker, and a Welsh soccer team. And his recent film "Free Guy" was a huge hit.
It was his first time working with director Shawn Levy, after a famous buddy insisted they meet.
Smith asked, "Your matchmaker was Hugh Jackman?"
"We met on the dating site, hugh.com," said Reynolds.
Levy said, "He told me, if I ever meet Ryan and if I ever work with Ryan, we'll never stop. And then from the minute we first met on 'Free Guy,' it was gangbusters."
They're actually neighbors in New York, and they have a few other things in common. Reynolds, with his wife, actress Blake Lively, have three daughters; Levy and his wife, Serena, have four.
Smith asked Levy, "You said that you're coincidentally neighbors. You moved across the country, didn't you?"
"He followed me here, yeah," Reynolds interjected.
"Well, I'm never gonna admit that I moved across the country to be closer to him," Levy said.
"My rear view mirror features Shawn Levy!"
"But if I get a few great movies out of it, it's all worth it!"
Reynolds said, "Who travels east, too? Like, you're like the opposite of the Donner Party, you guys, except you all made it."
"Give us time," said Levy.
And while maybe he can't actually time travel, Reynolds has come a long way, too.
Smith asked, "You mentioned that, if your 12-year-old self could see you now, what he would think? Do you give yourself a moment to step back and look at where you are? And, if so, what do you think?"
"Yeah, I think my 12-year-old self would be proud of me," Reynolds replied, "because I do this thing in a way that has some integrity. I like to think that 12-year-old would look at where I'm at and say, 'We're doin' all right,' I think."
To watch a trailer for "The Adam Project" click on the video player below:
For more info:
- "The Adam Project" debuts on Netflix March 11
- Follow Ryan Reynolds on Instagram and Twitter
- Follow Shawn Levy on Instagram and Twitter
Story produced by John D'Amelio. Editor: Lauren Barnello.
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