After bursting onto the scene (well, sort of) with the throwback to 80’s comedies Van Wilder as the title character, Ryan Reynolds starting showing up in more and more stuff. His turn in Blade: Trinity as the wise-cracking Hannibal King was certainly the highlight of the film, so needless to say it was a bit odd when he was announced for the lead in The Amityville Horror remake.
Our man Sean sat in on the press junket with Reynolds for Amityville and found out just why he’d choose something so opposite to what the public was just beginning to expect of him.
Question: One of the things we keep hearing from all of the filmmakers is, “Man we are casting this guy and he just doesn’t belong in this movie.”
Ryan Reynolds: That’s what I want to hear afterwards (laughs). And they still feel that way (laughs).
Q: And the clincher was that was the attraction — playing against type and so forth. How did you feel about that?
RR: That which he resists persists, I imagine. You know I look at it like any other acting job. It’s as hard if not harder in a way if it were a comedy. It’s just something I had never done; it wasn’t something in my particular wheelhouse either. I was really into it though, and I think that’s half the battle, when you find somebody else who is an actor that is really, really intrigued by it and into it and is aggressively pursuing it. I think filmmakers take notice, particularly if it’s an unorthodox choice.
Q: What is your opinion about what allegedly went on in the house?
RR: I don’t know if my opinion is neither here nor there. I just wanted to tell the story as best I could according to the script. It’s not a biography of George Lutz so I never met George. I never got into what he’s like as a man and a person. I know that something awful happened in that house. We know that six murders happened in that house. We know a family moved in there a year later and lasted twenty-eight days; we know that. My job was just to bring that character to life in the script.
Q: What does your house tell you to do?
RR: My house? It tells me keep building shithead, you’re just going to keep pissing money away (laughs). I’ve been renovating my house for a long time. It started off as a little tiny floor and now it’s a disaster. So that’s what my house does. It sounds oddly like the contractor too that works on the house (laughs).
Q: Is that a house here in Los Angeles?
Q: Have you watched the original film or read the book?
RR: I read the book when I was sixteen, and it scared the shit out of me, only because of the true story stuff. When you’re sixteen you know you’re really into it, but now it’d probably still scare me. The movie I saw years ago, and I felt like this was a worthy adaptation. It’s not something that really has aged particularly well. I think for its day it was great, but it’s one of the few movies that they are remaking that I thought, “Wow, this is interesting.” You want to tell this story with the technology that is available now to these filmmakers.
Q: Was it intimidating to play a character that is so much darker than anything you have ever played before?
RR: Yeah, it’s a little intimidating, but once you get into it it’s better. Like when I used to do this sitcom, I would always want to throw up before every episode and we did ninety of them. It’s always that first moment, you’ve got to get that first moment out of the way and then you’re fine; that first laugh or first whatever. For me the first day as George Lutz I just had to get it out of the way.
Q: What was the scene?
RR: The first scene I shot was a wood chopping scene with the kid, which was strange for me because I had never worked with rage before on film. This guy is so full of rage. I never played the horror aspect, I played the psychological aspect because I can’t tell you what it is like to be possessed so I had to find something concrete and tangible that I could play. I let Andrew Douglas shoot the horror movie, and I shot the drama of George Lutz. We kind of went into it with that agreement. Those scenes were hard with the kid. Particularly when I was doing scenes that involve rage with George Lutz I just didn’t know what was going to happen. In one take I slapped him, not hard but hard enough that I sat back going, “Whoa, this is a strange and new experience for me, and are you okay?”
Q: When I was watching the film there were women on both sides of me, and I have to know — is there a minimum amount of time you have to take off your shirt in a film?
RR: It is contractual (laughs). In the next movie it’s just pants and black socks. I don’t know why. It’s a nice visual. I had just done Blade: Trinity and I put on more weight for Blade and I thought I might as well use it, so I kept it and added a little more. I wanted him to be a big bear. I wanted him to look like if he was out of control, he could really hurt someone. I wanted him to be as intimidating as possible. As far as taking off my shirt…I mean if it sells tickets that just is fine all the same. It’s funny because you shoot one day with your shirt off in the movie and it seems like it’s thirty minutes woth of film. I don’t know how it ended up that much, but it’s one day.
Q: Is that aspect of it embarrassing?
RR: Yeah, sure some of it is. Some of it is a little cringe-worthy. I recognize certain elements of it that I choose not to speak of necessarily all the time. Sometimes you have to add that element.
Q: It’s the humble Canadian in you.
RR: It’s actually the passive/aggressive Canadian in me.
Q: Was it harder to put that extra bit of weight on?
RR: It wasn’t that hard. They kind of taught me so well with all these nutritionists and what not that New Line gave me for Blade that I kind of knew exactly the science of it all. I just ate more and lowered certain things.
Q: Did playing a father, albeit a crazy one, give you any inclinations to being a real father?
RR: I’m not going to win father of the year award for this movie any time soon. Yeah, I love kids. Working with them I certainly didn’t get very close to the kids because it wouldn’t help my performance at all to get to love those kids. I don’t know if looking at child actors is the best gauge for children (laughs). I remember a few years ago I worked with this one where the director said, “We’ve got to cut your hair for this scene.” He looked up at the director and said, “I’ll fucking sue you!” (Laughs) Wow! Why put your kid in a movie? Just give him a crack pipe. Here’s a lighter, there you go. It’s just not a good gauge to see if you want to have kids hanging out with child actors.
Q: What’s the latest on The Flash?
RR: The Flash is something David Goyer is writing right now, and when he’s done a draft hopefully Warner Brothers will green light it. The story he has for it is unbelievable. It’s just such a mind boggling story. I’m excited so if all goes well I’ll be playing it.
Q: Anything happening with Dead Pool?
RR: Fox just was interested in picking up the rights to it, but Avi Arad and I had a meeting about it the other day. and it’s just such a hard thing to adapt because the guy is horribly scarred. It’s a murk with a mouth and I feel like I’d love to take a crack at that guy. It would be such a fun character to play.
Q: Why is the Flash script so mind blowing? Is it more than just an origin?
RR: There’s just so much I didn’t realize about the laws of physics and relativity you can get into with the Flash; the fact that he is basically doing things like arriving before he’s left. To me this stuff is really interesting to capture on film.
Q: Do you have an agreement in place that if they green light it you will get the part?
RR: No, no not at all. There is nothing contractual at all. David Goyer and I both always said we would like to do it together and Warner Brothers seems to approve of that, and I’ve been known to wear red unitards at various parties around town (laughs). So I’m in.
Q: Having done two genre pictures back to back would you like to do more?
RR: I liked it. I love doing other genres too. I just love breaking the mold a bit. It actually buys you a lot of credibility in comedy because the more you continuously stay unpredictable in your choices, the more people sort of get sucked in and you can hit them over the head with some sort of dick joke or something (laughs). I love doing any kind of genre. It’s just always the character.
Q: Are you a fan of the genre?
RR: Not really. I mean I don’t seek out horror movies typically, usually if it has a very linear story. I feel that at least in our movie I love that in George Lutz you see this progression of this guy go from one end of spectrum to the other. I felt like movies like The Others really captured that, just this beautiful progression of these people. Yeah, I like those. I don’t know if I like really gory stuff. That was never my bag. .
Q: What do you do to prepare to play such a dark character?
RR: I look at it like this; everyone has these wounds they acquired in childhood, not to be too Jungian or anything on it. I just look at that stuff when I was young and the things that affected me most. The things that I hung on to, stuff that you’re usually covering up when you’re doing movies like comedies. It was fun for me. Everybody has rage within them and their own unique set of wounds and an ability to go off the deep end. It’s just a journey to sort of find that, and once you do it’s kind of fun to explore and or exploit.
Q: Is it a matter of technique?
RR: I’ve never studied acting so I don’t know. I mean I’ve studied it in the sense that when I’m doing it I feel like I’m studying, but I have never formally studied it like “Oh, I’m going to implement the Misner method here.” I’ve never done that. That’s something that doesn’t work for me.
Q: What was the most physically challenging aspect of the role?
RR: Although it seems very physical, it wasn’t as physical as it looked. I think some of the third act like going up on the roof and some of that stuff was pretty hard. Any time you are working in rain and mud and all that crap is a nightmare for everyone. Shooting all night in it is a mess. The whole thing is just a mess, and you just have to sort of surrender to it.
Q: They gave you an Apocalypse Now moment though.
RR: Yeah, there were a couple of them with the mud and all that stuff and my little red eyes poking out of my face.
Q: Those were contacts correct?
RR: Yes, they are actually clear dinner plates (laughs). They basically had to peal my skull back to get them in. Half of the time they weren’t even in I would just rub menthol in my eyes. I’m serious actually because we couldn’t get them in. We were shooting all night and they just couldn’t pull my eye open enough to get the big disc in.
Q: So you would just irritate your eyes.
Q: Did anything weird happen to you during filming?
RR: Nothing weird happened to me. I know that some people on the crew experienced some stuff. I know that it was disconcerting to find out that Kathy Lutz passed away in the middle of the movie, which was pretty odd, and we took a moment to pause for her. They did fish a body out of the lake the first week we were there. That’s awfully strange. I mean what do you say to that except some inappropriate joke. That was definitely something a little bit strange for everyone, the crew included, just a weird way to start a movie.
Q: Did it make you start believing in ghosts or anything?
RR: No not necessarily. I believe in dark energies. I believe that when a family moves into a house where six murders took place, there’s going to be some bad juju in that house. But then again, what the hell is wrong with you to be moving in that house to begin with?
Q: Especially that the kids slept in the same beds.
RR: Yes. Any good father of the year would make sure of that. The kids are right in and don’t even wipe the stain up. I recognize in the movie the rationale for them buying the house; I mean the house was a steal for what they were getting it for and this guy George Lutz had a lot of pressure on him to make good. He had inherited this family and had all of these kids all of a sudden and he wanted to provide for them.
Q: He could have at least bought new beds.
RR: I don’t know if those were the same beds.
Q: Yeah they were literally and physically the same beds.
RR: Really? I should have read the press notes (laughs). I’m glad I’m finding that out now.
Big thanks to MGM for letting us sit in on the junket and to Reynolds for taking the time to chat with us! The Amityville Horror hits theaters on April 15th; make sure you check out its official site right here!
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