Respecting Ryan Reynolds

I have never truly loved any of Ryan Reynolds’ movies, or for that matter, even been vaguely interested in following his career. This is not his fault. On the contrary, I’ve always thought he had talent, but unfortunately his filmography leaves little to be desired. Yes, Van Wilder was funny, Two Guys and a Girl was great, and there are a few giddy girls who enjoyed The Proposal, but check out this list:- X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Definitely Maybe, Blade Trinity, The Amityville Horror, Just Friends.

When I first heard that Reynolds was to be one of the lead actors in ‘Safe House’, a new Universal Pictures action movie that i was going to be working on, my response was less than enthusiastic. Why? Simply because, when I looked at the list of other candidates for the role, he was the person I least cared to meet and observe at work.

The other runners up were Shia LaBeouf, my self appointed look-a-like; Sam Worthington of Avatar (highest grossing movie of all time) fame; Taylor Kitch who played Tim Riggins in one of TV’s best shows Friday Night Lights; Chris Hemsworth of Marvel’s Thor; Chris Pine, the new Captain Kirk; Jake Gyllenhaal and Zac Efron (queue BIG LAUGH).

Zac Efron aside, any one of the other choices worked better for me. Note: this opinion had nothing to do with who I thought deserved the role, it was purely from a ‘fan’ perspective. Slowly, but surely however, Ryan Reynolds shifted from being a very random film personality and Sexiest Man Alive 2010 into someone I have much respect for and someone who’s career I will now watch with great interest.

Sorry girls, but the fact that he is a really good looking guy isn’t on my list, but feel free to keep it on yours and just add all of mine on top of it.

Firstly, he is a genuinely nice guy. He is down to earth, friendly and approachable. It has been disappointing to work with actors who you once loved, only to find that they are the most arrogant, stuck up, sometimes racist person you have ever come across. This is not Reynolds. When he was not working he would often hang around on set having the odd chat with anyone; he showed no preference. He did not sit in his trailer all day, with everyone out of his way, waiting for the entire set to be ready so he could grace us with his presence.

Unlike other Hollywood personalities with entourages as long as cinema queues for The Phantom Menace, Ryan has one assistant, that’s it. He can take care of himself and doesn’t need his own make-up artist, his own hairstylist, and his own costumer… He’s comfortable to be made up and dressed by the same people who dress the other actors too.

When getting him a drink on set, he asked me to please call him Ryan and not Mr. Reynolds, which sounds small, but believe me, sometimes getting a response from an A List actor is a feat worthy of respect. Lastly, with regards to his ‘nice guy’ persona, if he comes into contact with you, he will ask your name once, and remember it for the rest of the shoot.

Secondly, Ryan Reynolds is funny. He is constantly laughing with people on set and making wisecracks in between takes. He is a guy who takes his work seriously, but not himself.

Finally, he is an absolute trooper. After seeing him at work for three months, I was astounded at his dedication to the film and his craft. He is tough and takes a beating. He jumps into every scene and activity with energy and puts himself on the line. Often, we think every Hollywood actor is like this, but on the same film I witnessed other actors complain, argue, and in one instance, make a scene over a small squib that went off miles from their face.

Reynolds does most of his own stunts and partakes fully in all the fight scenes, often leaving his stunt double, James, to watch from the sidelines, talking to the likes of me.

I was also very impressed by the amount of driving he also did. There were three stand out moments when it came to this. The first was seeing him weaving a BMW, one handed, through traffic and around the Adderley circle while doing a dialogue scene with his cellphone in his other hand.

The second was during a night sequence we shot in the Langa township. Reynolds reversed a massive stunt Land Cruiser at full speed through a windy pathway made up of shacks. He did several takes perfectly before ploughing several of them down! Before anyone has a heart attack, these shacks were fake and were put up by our art department. No one was hurt.

Ryan Reynolds on the set of 'Safe House' in Cape Town

Finally, later in the sequence, Ryan was called to drive the vehicle forwards, through a collapsing shack and catch up with another character. I was standing at the end position where his car would ultimately come to a halt. ‘Action’ was called and I heard the vehicle screeching, driving, smashing through the shack and continue up to its end position by my spot. As it pulled in, I noticed the windscreen completely shattered and Ryan, with eyes closed covered in glass. All he said was ‘Could someone call a medic!’. The shack had collapsed too early, and one of the planks hit the windscreen. Medics arrived quickly, blew the glass out his eyelashes and cleaned him up. Sure enough, five minutes later, he was doing take two…

For all these reasons listed, I cannot help but have the utmost respect for Ryan Reynolds, and will, without a doubt follow his career from here on. You should too.

Oh, and Denzel Washington was also in this movie.

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