When I sat down to interview actor Ryan Reynolds for CBC National, I wonder: is there something about him that I don’t know yet. Anything that hasn’t been written yet.
Just look at the last few weeks. From hidden appearances in Super Bowl commercials, to promoting new Netflix movies Adam Project, for him and his wife Blake Lively matching donations of up to $1 million for Ukrainian refugees, many people are watching and talking about the actor/entrepreneur/philanthropist.
But for a man whose Twitter account is @vancityreynolds, it turns out that asking about his relationship with his hometown reveals some surprises.
VIEW | Interview with actor Ryan Reynolds Sunday March 6 at National at 9 p.m. ET on the CBC News Network and 10 p.m. local time on your CBC television station. You can also catch National active online CBC Gems.
I know teenager Ryan Reynolds works in a Vancouver supermarket, and not just any supermarket. It’s actually my neighborhood store, and I shop there so often that I might walk past it while it’s filling the shelves.
But what I didn’t know, until we chatted, she had a moment of seeing her own celebrity there.
Before I get into that, Reynolds told me that he “loves” working at the supermarket—usually the night shift—and that some of his coworkers are, “the funniest people on Earth. Some of the biggest impressions on me, actually, are like a player, are the people, the people I work with at night.”
Sometimes she works at the cash register, and that’s where the lives of two Vancouver stars meet.
“I used to bring Sarah McLachlan’s groceries, and I always noted that she was very kind to everyone she met in the store. Not necessarily. Nobody knew it was her, half the time she had a toque pulled down. But yeah, it was him. He’s amazing.”
He doesn’t make comparisons, but it’s not lost on me. Two pretty big Vancouver stars, famous for being very kind to fans.
VIEW | Actor Ryan Reynolds recalls working the night shift at a local grocery store in Vancouver as a teenager:
How a city traffic overpass saved his life (creative)
If you’ve done a lot of driving in downtown Vancouver, you’ve probably crossed the Georgia Viaduct, an overpass flanked by home arenas for the Vancouver Canucks and BC Place Stadium.
In 2015, closed for two weeks for filming Dead pool, an unusual kind of superhero movie. Reynolds’ Dead pool funny and vulgar and very appealing to the audience.
But apparently the studio lacks confidence.
Reynolds says Dead pool was a “first dive into production”, and it came with huge challenges. The budget was tight, “we had to turn every dollar into what felt like a hundred dollars.”
The result, Reynolds said, changed his approach to filmmaking.
“That Georgia Viaduct saved our lives. It really worked. Because we needed to cut all these big action sequences and replace spectacle with character.”
VIEW | What actor Ryan Reynolds learned on the Georgia Viaduct in Vancouver:
And what he learned made Dead pool has had an impact on his other projects, including the advertising company he created and later sold, Maximum Effort.
“Later in my life [it] “became a huge lesson in marketing, and in every other business I would pursue, that ‘must be the mother of invention’ is the greatest creative tool you will ever have,” Reynolds said.
“A lot of the lessons were forged in 2015 as I sat on that Georgia Viaduct, trying to figure out how I was going to get through this film with the amount of money they gave us to shoot it.”
Dead pool and Deadpool 2 is the second and third highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. I wonder how Reynolds feels about being so high up on that list?
Smiling, he said it tasted pretty good.
“I’m not pointing my finger at anyone, but for 10 years they’ve been saying ‘no, it’s never going to work, and this is why it’s never going to work.’ There’s some, you know, justification.”
The little one who is responsible for his success
I asked Reynolds about his time in high school in Vancouver, and he said it was a struggle. He is an introvert and is “afraid” of going to school sometimes.
It seems unbelievable, seeing how relaxed and confident she appears in the interview. But she did tell a story about how anxious she was backstage on David Letterman’s show, wondering if she was really going to fall or throw up. (That didn’t happen.)
I’ve heard introverts talk about their transformation in front of the camera or on stage, but never like this. Reynold said, “I have noted that a little man like this is taking over. And this little man is confident, and [he] can make jokes here and there, and all that. And then I realized that these were the same people who were in charge of my career, responsible for a lot of the things I had to do. He wasn’t necessarily the real me, but he kept me safe and protected me.
“So the guy’s been around since high school. And I turn him on and off a lot better as I get older.”
VIEW | The ‘little one’ who helped Ryan Reynolds overcome stage fright:
There was one other thing I learned about Reynolds. We only spent half an hour together, but he really seemed, in person, to the man seen in the video. Listens to questions, generous with answers, and funny.
Full disclosure, though. He’s the only person I’ve spoken to who said he was going to tear down the camera in a rage the moment he left the room. Don’t worry — as seen in our interview on CBC National airing March 6, it’s a Ryan Reynolds classic. The “little man” helped him find the right line to end.
VIEW | After CBC’s Ian Hanomansing commented on how level-headed the actor was, Reynolds joked about how he could explode at any moment:
Watch the full episode of The National on CBC GemsCBC streaming service.
“Coffee aficionado nerd. Troublemaker. General communicator. Gamer. Analyst. Creator. Total brew ninja.”