“As a kid, I think I wanted to be the on-set dresser for ‘Charlie’s Angels. My goals weren’t lofty. No. I just wanted to someday quit my newspaper route and that was about it.”
It’s been six years since Ryan Reynolds was named “Sexiest Man Alive.” But, apart from his clean-cut steamy demeanor, not much else has stayed the same for the brown-eyed, dreamy actor. He remarried, became a father, and starred in Deadpool, a movie he’s had in the works for more than 10 years. “I’ve never done a job where I had given my last drop of blood but, this was that,” he says. “I really felt great about how it was received. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Just to have the long game pay off that way, sticking with this thing for over a decade and seeing that we weren’t crazy and there was something here.”
Growing up in Vancouver, Canada, Reynolds describes himself as a “nervous kid.” He says he found comfort in acting and performing, where he was able to put his angst to work. “I was extremely sensitive,” he says. “Incredibly perceptive… I was so aware of everything around me.” He started with a few school productions, and then quickly broke into television when he was a teen. He landed his first role in the Canadian-produced teen soap Hillside, known in the States as Nickelodeon’s Fifteen, which earned him a Young Artist Award nomination. A few years later, he acted in the TV-movie Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
After graduating from high school, while balancing his acting career, he enrolled in Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver. While searching for acting gigs, Reynolds worked odd jobs, even a late-shift at a local supermarket. In the late 90’s he moved to Los Angeles and landed a role as a medical student in the ABC sitcom Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. “If you can get big numbers, that’s great,” he says. “But ultimately the only goal is to be proud of each week’s show. And I think we are here.”
But, Reynolds still longed for a role that would put him center stage and his role in 2002’s Van Wilder did just that as he played a super-senior college student turned party planner nicknamed “the frat guy’s Jesus Christ.” Many credit Reynolds’ party boy role as his first major comedic breakthrough, steering his career toward stardom. In the years that followed, Reynolds appeared in a slew of different roles, from romantic comedies to action flicks. He played a vampire hunter in 2004’s Blade: Trinity and a year later, he appeared in the 1979 remake of The Amityville Horror.
In 2009, after marrying actress Scarlett Johansson, Reynolds’ career soared as he was cast as Deadpool in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He quickly switched gears when he acted in the romantic comedy The Proposal and, a few months later, he starred in an independent drama named Buried, in which he played an American who gets buried alive in Iraq.
But, 2010 was an even bigger year for Reynolds. He was cast in the superhero movie The Green Lantern. “I screen-tested twice for it” he says. “I fought for the role. And I’m glad I did, because I felt like I earned it.” That same year, Reynolds was named People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ and he jokes, “The most difficult part is going to be organically working this title into a conversation with random strangers.” About a month later, Reynolds and Johansson announced their split, putting the newly titled ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ back on the market.
Reynolds didn’t stay single for long. It was rumored that he and Green Lantern co-star Blake Lively were a couple and in 2012, they tied the knot and welcomed their first child together, daughter James Reynolds in 2015. “I’m just excited about having a buddy,” he says. “For a lot of new dads, you tend to dwell on the mistakes you don’t want to make. I’m at that stage still where I’m focused primarily on being open and understanding and leaving a lot of room for error.”
As Reynolds transitioned through roles, relationships, and milestone moments, one constant remained: Deadpool. The actor spent 11 years trying to get the comic-book spin-off movie made and after secret footage was leaked to the press, he was finally given approval. “I was excited, because you can look back at an email chain from all of us,” he says. “The core group involved in Deadpool, saying, we should have leaked this like three years ago. Saying, “Hey, if this thing is going to stagnate, one of us should just say ‘Whoops, I slipped it online by accident.” And nobody seemed to want to nut up and do that, myself included. Someone did it for us, years later, when we all completely assumed it was dead in the water.” The action-comedy film, released this past February, is said to be one of the most successful superhero flicks made and a sequel is slated for 2017. “I think one of the reasons that Deadpool has gained a lot of momentum isn’t just that it’s funny or that it’s rated R,” he says. “The meta aspect is very important. So I think Deadpool’s coming along at the right time, because it’s also speaking to that generation and that group of people that have seen them all, seen all these comic-book films and enjoyed them all to varying degrees of success. But I think it’s speaking to them as though the guy in that red suit is one of them, to some degree.”
Reynolds is more than an on-screen superhero. He will appear in British-American thriller Criminal, releasing in April, and in the animated flick The Croods 2, set to release in 2017.
Movies aside, nowadays Reynolds considers himself more of a father than a mega star. He lives in a quiet neighborhood north of New York City, where he, Blake, and James spend most of their free time. “I have no problem waking up five times in the middle of the night and changing diapers,” he says. “And as exhausted as you get, I have this stupid grin on my face all the time. And that’s not because I have a nanny or something like that. It’s just us right now, and I love it.” The actor says he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I don’t have to prepare to be wrapped around my daughter’s finger,” he says. “I have been wrapped around her little finger since the day she popped out into this world.”