Have you ever felt like no other actor would really do for a certain character in a film? That’s how I felt about Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool. There could be, and most definitely should be, no other Deadpool but him. It has become arguably his most memorable performance.
There is just something about Reynolds’ long standing flirtation with the comedy genre that makes for an enjoyable big screen experience. Besides, he can clearly handle a gun. The Canadian actor, who received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 2016, became one of the few actors to have featured in both DC and Marvel productions. Despite the controversial response to some of the films he had appeared in, Reynolds has always managed to deliver and rise to the occasion of qualitative, captivating and entertaining acting.
Before taking a closer look at some of his best performances, here is something more about the man behind the red mask.
Ryan Rodney Reynolds, who is of Irish ancestry, was born on the 23rd of October 1976 in Vancouver, Canada. His career in acting began in 1991, when he starred as Billy Sampson in the Canadian-produced soap Hillside, later distributed in the US as Fifteen. He is also known for his portrayal of medical student Michael ‘Berg’ Bergen in the American TV series Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza. One of his most memorable performances include Andrew Paxton in the romantic comedy The Proposal, Chris Brander in Just Friends, and naturally, Wade Wilson in Deadpool.
And, yes, you will hear a lot about Deadpool. Because it rocks. But you probably already know that. And with The Hitman’s Bodyguard hitting UK cinemas this month, you might consider indulging in an all-Reynolds marathon to warm up. In case you are spoilt for choice, we’ve curated some of the Canadian’s finest appearances, which you really need to check out.
It is almost compulsory to begin with this film, since Reynolds himself was heavily involved in the creation and development of Deadpool as a character after playing Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Wanting to bring the character closer to his Marvel Comics origins, there were some serious debates over the renewed image of this most untypical of superheroes and his exact status in the superhero universe. Everybody who has watched it knows that the nature of this status is as conflicted as Wilson’s internal monologues. And the superhero label, and indeed the very definition of heroism, is called into reconsideration. The film offered a hilariously reformed depiction of justice, love, friendship and purpose within the concept of crude, almost too exaggerated, stomach ache-inducing fun. And Reynolds fit the mould perfectly. He delivers a witty, deliciously twisted and overwhelmingly authentic performance. He is funny almost to the point of offending, but never ceases to engage with and charm his audience.
Predictably, it was a huge box-office and commercial success, scoring the biggest worldwide opening in 2016 of $264,9 million. If for some reason you have not seen it yet, it’s high time you prioritised your film bucket list. Especially since Deadpool 2 is expected to arrive on June 1st, 2018.
The Proposal and Just Friends
If there is a genre in which Reynolds performs exceedingly well, it has to be the romantic comedy. Teasing humour and a quest for romance seem to be his speciality, and viewers have absolutely loved it. The Proposal, where Reynolds starred alongside Sandra Bullock, was released in 2009. Although it got mixed reviews and received criticism for its script, the chemistry between the two leading actors on set was praised. Bullock and Reynolds really manage to pull the narrative along in a really natural and harmonious manner, which makes for a really engaging film. Even though humour played a far more subtle role in this tale of an unlikely romance, it makes a substantial contribution to the overall interaction and emotion between the characters and reflects the peculiar nature of their relationship. At its core, The Proposal is a good old-fashioned romantic comedy, a combination of attraction and industry-proof emotional complexity. It was an instant classic and a box-office success with $317 million worldwide. This different take on love and romance is definitive evidence that Reynolds has, and will always have, a place in the world of romantic comedies.
Speaking of different takes on love, it is hard to overlook the appeal of Just Friends. Perhaps reviving the stale concept of young romance or foretelling what would become a troubling aspect of millennial culture, the 2005 romantic comedy follows the story of arguably one of the most brutally friend-zoned people in cinema history, Chris Brander, as played by Ryan Reynolds. As a narrative, it is actually quite saddening. To an extent, in exactly that rather sorrowful and almost cruel way of thinking about blooming teenage romance, lays the originality and quality of the film. In a different interpretation, it could be said that the pain of rejection actually empowers and can trigger remarkable personal change. By engaging with the complexity of human relationships and a rejuvenated concept of young first love, Just Friends creates a talking point about the reality of adolescence. Also, if you have ever wondered how Reynolds would look with a few extra pounds on, now’s your chance.
The Change-Up and R.I.P.D.
Unfortunately, the quality of the acting does not always guarantee the commercial success of a film. And that is exactly what happened with these two representatives of Reynolds’ supernatural and fantasy comedy portfolio.
Reynolds’ performance in the 2011 fantasy comedy The Change-Up was overall praised, but the film was criticised for its unappealingly crude humour and controversial script. Along with co-star Jason Bateman, Reynolds was set on a film which employed various depictions of humour in the exploration of the ups and downs of a person’s adult life. The concept of satisfaction is central, as it positions the narrative in the fantasy world. Admittedly at times the characteristically uncensored humour comes across as a little too aggressive, but there is more to the film than meets the eye. It represents a journey through which every adult has to go at one point in their life; the journey of learning to love and appreciate what you have. And in that respect alone, the film is exquisitely crafted. What is lacking, and what certainly lacked in some reviews, is moderation.
And if reviews were not particularly flattering to The Change-Up, the response to this film was downright savage. On the financial part, R.I.P.D. was nothing less than a box-office bomb. It scored $78 million on a budget of $130 million. Critics were distinctly unimpressed with the plot, calling out the flatness of the narrative and its predictability. Again, it was all lacking moderation. Yes, the 2013 supernatural action comedy was not a roaring success, but it was an ambitious and overall entertaining attempt at the genre. Reynolds did not fail to deliver, and together with co-star Jeff Bridges makes for a really entertaining, if occasionally confusing, piece of cinema.
The Change-Up and R.I.P.D. might not have scored impressively high on the financial scale, nor have they been a spectacular success with the public, but they are both the result of excellent and professional acting. And on those grounds alone, they deserve a second chance.
Ryan Reynolds’ devotion to the art of acting and staunch professionalism make him a truly valuable talent. It goes beyond Deadpool. It will go beyond The Hitman’s Bodyguard too. But let’s see what they’ll make out of that.