WonderCon Interview: Ryan Reynolds On ‘Green Lantern’

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Ryan Reynolds Hal Jordan Green Lantern 570x3801 WonderCon Interview: Ryan Reynolds On Green Lantern

Warner Bros. revealed nine minutes of footage from the first ever live-action film depiction of the popular DC character Green Lantern at WonderCon this weekend. You can take a look at the excerpt of the footage – as well as a detailed breakdown of the panel HERE.

Ryan Reynolds, who stars as the title character, and his co-star Blake Lively spoke at select press interviews immediately following the event. We were in attendance for the interview and have provided a transcription of the exchange below.

Reynolds spoke about his attachment to the Green Lantern franchise as a fan, his take on the Hal Jordan character, finding the proper balance for the comedic and slightly more weighty elements of the role, and of course, the suit.

Look for our coverage of the Blake Lively interview in the coming days.

You said you weren’t too familiar with the character of Green Lantern going in. As you got familiar with Hal Jordan, what was it about him that made him stand out to you as opposed to Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne?

“Never heard of those other guys! [laughs] But for me, it was that transformation. It was having this guy who is arrogant, cocky and reckless and could be given a higher calling and really rise to that purpose and, in that process, find it humbling. I thought that was really, really interesting. That transformation that happens early on in the film is really great. This guy that really has to make the effort. He has to do something with his life in a huge way and, in turn, saves countless other people’s lives.”

The film relies heavily on CGI. How much pressure does that add on-set, not knowing exactly what everything is going to look like?

“Well, it’s never good to get in a plane unless you know that you’ve got a good pilot. Part of that challenge is just having Martin Campbell. Look, I’ve got enough miles under me to be savvy about those things. To say, “Who did Warner Brothers hire? Who did they hire to do the production design? Who did they hire to do the costumes? Who did they hire to shoot the movie?” Those are all really important questions that you don’t think about when you’re starting your career. We’re in good hands. They’re spending the money on the right people to do this the right way. At some point, you’ve just got to surrender. You say, “I’m going to take care of my end of the bargain and they’re going to take care of theirs.” Then you see the end result. Or the 90% finished result, as I saw today, and you go, “Okay. They’re doing it. They’re creating that world.” It’s exciting. You hear he audience roar with applause – you realize that this is what we do this for. People bitch and whine and moan on-set because it’s 180 degrees and you’re wearing a lycra costume that you’d much rather just light on fire and never see again, but you’re here. You’re seeing it in front of its core audience. It’s pretty exciting.”

Have you seen anything in the film that has really blown you away with what they’ve done in post?

“I’ve been in South Africa for the past two-and-a-half months. In “Green Lantern” months, that’s like 30 years in terms of post-production. Things happen in leaps and bounds in that amount of time. I saw that a day and half ago and I just now got rid of my drool cup. The footage was just incredible. But nothing as far along as what we just saw now.”

So it’s sort of like seeing the film for the first time?

“It’s all seeing it for the first time. It’s amazing. You go from a soundstage that’s four walls and a blue screen and you’re in a totally different world.”

This isn’t your first time playing a superhero on the big screen. Did those past works help you prepare for this one?

“Not really. I never really played a superhero before. I was Deadpool in ‘Wolverine,’ but I wouldn’t really classify that guy as a superhero. Years and years and years ago, I was in ‘Blade,’ but that was as a human being as well. This is all kind of new for me. None of it really informed me. Most of it was just finding the character’s voice early on. That was always a trick. You approach it like every other film.”

deadpool movie concerns liefeld WonderCon Interview: Ryan Reynolds On Green Lantern

Does it make much of a difference how thoroughly everything is scrutinized on a film like this?

“Oh, it’s huge. I mean, I’m also a fan. I want it to be good just primarily from that level. It’s a huge weight. It buoys you in a really big way. It’s a totally different experience, seeing it with an audience that it’s designed for. Seeing it with that group of people out there was just electrifying. If it had gone the other way, it would have been a huge disaster. So it’s really great to see that they’re getting it right.”

How hard is it to weather that? When the Entertainment Weekly cover came out, people were very mixed in their reactions to the costume.

“Well, it’s two-fold. I mean, I’m already two movies away from ‘Green Lantern,’ so I forget some of those little things. But I also expect all that. I didn’t think that an average audience would know that the suit, in the mythology of the film, is made of energy. It’s not made of spandex or luge-wear. So it’s a whole different kind of approach that we have to have to it. I always knew it was going to be CGI from the first time I met the entire gang. I think you just have to remind the audience that this is what it is. This is what’s actually happening. But part of that is that the audience wants to see themselves in that role. So when you have a suit that’s made of energy, it’s not something that they can go pick up at Target. It’s a different thing. It requires a little bit of time.”

You mentioned in the panel that Hal Jordan isn’t really a funny guy. Did you find that you had to suppress a big part of yourself?

“Well, you hope so. If I’m not suppressing myself in any movie I did, things could go horribly wrong.”

You made a Han Solo meets Chuck Yeager reference in terms of the balance of your interpretation of Hal. Is there a ratio there?

“Well, I don’t know. This is a reference that’s mostly for me. I’m only sharing it with you guys because I’m being grilled about my process. I don’t know what the ratio is. It’s not a cake I’m baking. But any guy who wakes on a planet called Oa, you’re going to have a moment of apoplectic disbelief. You’re going to have that moment. And however it comes about or however it manifests itself organically is how it happens. So I don’t know. If you put Chuck Yeager in that situation, what would he do? Maybe the same thing. I don’t know.”

Can you talk about the balance of comedy with the more serious elements?

“In terms of the overall film, I would say that Hal is far more aggressive in the movie than he is funny. Once we get into the middle of that second act, everything is pretty serious. It’s just tough, when you’re dealing with so much exposition of an origin story, to service an audience with it in a very analytical way. It’s sort of dangerous. You have to find a way to make that entertaining and palatable. They did such a great job with doing that and allowing the movie to start in the first act instead of it starting in the third act like it does in a lot of origin stories. That will often times leave an audience unsatisfied. But that’s all in there. You feel this guy’s rage and purpose halfway through the second act. That’s what drew me to the movie to begin with.”

How dark is it?

“It never goes super dark or anything like that. But it has its moments. I would say that it sort of walks that tight-rope in terms of maybe ‘The Dark Knight’ tones and some of the other recent iterations of stories from the comic book world. Tony Stark and those kind of things. It sort of walks that tight-rope somewhere in the middle of those things. There’s a lot of talk of CGI as a hindrance, but it’s interesting that it’s the story of a guy whose world is built out of willpower and imagination and the film literally does just that.”

the dark knight WonderCon Interview: Ryan Reynolds On Green Lantern

Did having to imagine this world help you click into that mindset?

“Yeah. I mean, some actors just can’t do it. They need to have that world in front of them in order to do it. But I would have felt like an asshole asking them to build a life-size version of Oa with an 18-story power battery in the middle of it. And there’s the budget. So you really have to embrace the make-believe and pretend. It’s really like being a kid again – and actually having that power manifest itself is really pretty exciting and would be for anybody. We get to experience that through Hal. Working with a green-screen stage for six months, you’re literally in the world of make-believe and pretend. In a typical drama movie, where you have all these elements right in front of you, all you’re doing is believing. In this, you’re having to do both. You’re having to believe and you’re having to pretend. It’s like a muscle that has atrophied and once it’s back, it’s there and it’s exciting and fun. You invent things. When you invent things — when I turn my head and look at something – Martin [Campbell] doesn’t question what I’m doing. When I watch the film, suddenly the character Bzzt is cruising by. It’s so great to see that.”

If the film spawns sequels, is there anything specific from the mythology that you’d like to see? Would you want to explore the dark side of Hal?

“Yeah, I’m game for that. If we were to do a second film, I know where that’s going. But a third, I have no idea. That would be very exciting. I’d love to maybe hand it over to one of the others. Guy Gardner or John Stewart or something.”

What does Martin Campbell bring to the filmmaking process?

“He brings an immense range of talent. He’s done serious dramas and action films and even some lighthearted stuff. He was also a shooter. He started out as a shooter, or cinematographer. You couple that with the power of Dion Beebe, who’s one of the best in the business, and you’ve really got something. But he knows what it’s like to put a knife fight in a phone booth on the screen. He’s not even here and when he’s done with the movie, he’s going to sleep for 200 years. He lives in a little dungeon and I’m sure his family is incredibly angry at him since they haven’t seen him in years.”

Can you talk about working with Peter Sarsgaard?

“Peter’s great. One thing about working with Hector Hammond is that he created a sympathetic character out of what could, ostensibly, just be a villain. So we actually feel empathy for this guy who is wreaking havoc in Hal’s life. And they’re childhood friends as well, so you sort of feel a sense of loyalty for Hal and for Hector and you hope that these guys don’t come to blows. But Peter’s amazing and to see some of the work that he’s done throughout his career and onstage with us was really a privilege.”

green lantern trailer106 WonderCon Interview: Ryan Reynolds On Green Lantern

This is your first 3D film. Have you seen any of the footage in 3D yet?

“I haven’t seen anything in 3D yet, but I think that a movie like this really lends itself to being a 3D film. The constructions and the alien worlds and all the stuff on Oa really lends itself to the format.”

Do you know what’s going to be happened with R.I.P.D.? Is that going to be your next project?

“I don’t know. I hope so. I always think that you’re not really doing a movie until you break for lunch on the fifth day. But it would be fantastic. We’re still trying to work it out with cast and crew. We’ll see.”

Since you never wore the suit on-set, does it only now feel like it’s paying off all the work you did, getting to see yourself on-screen?

“Yeah, but what’s weird is that when I found out how they were doing the suit, I said, ‘So why do I have to be in shape? You’re putting the thing over my damned body! What am I doing, killing myself every morning?’ But then I found out that they body scan you every two weeks. They laser-scan you. Which is something. You think, ‘I look pretty good!’ and then you see the three-dimensional views and go, ‘I have work to do.’ So it was kind of a weird experience to see that. But yeah, I was kind of wondering if, for the next movie, they could just use the old scans. Then I could eat human food instead of, you know, dog kibble.”

How does Oa and Earth balance out in the film?

“You’re after ratios? I’d say 50/50. 50 on Earth, 50 on Oa. 50 on other stuff. My math’s terrible. I’m an actor.”

Green Lantern opens in theaters on June 17th, 2011.

Follow me on Twitter  @jrothc and Screen Rant @screenrant

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  1. It’s funny how he compares it to the two best recent comic book movies, Iron Man and TDK. granted the new Wondercon trailer looked extremely promising but to compare it to arguably the two best comic book films of our time before it has even hit the box office is a little over ambitious

    • He compared it in tone. There is nothing wrong with that.

    • Arguably is the right word. The Dark Knight isnt even the best Batman film!

  2. That would be up for discussion.

  3. I like the Green Lantern suit – for all the flaming it is taking it is one of the elements that actually drew my interest. :)

  4. There is an improvement… a big one. Green Lantern is my favorite DC hero and when I watched the first trailer I told my gf that they were gonna kill GL. Now that I seen more I am looking forward to it but I DO NOT LIKE AT ALL the green on the legs… it sooooo wrong it doesnt look right… at all. Over the knee…. just put white where it should go, just put the white where it goes! Dont be changing it so much! This to me would be like taking all the yellow color out of Superman… is not the main two colors but still looks funny it you take it out of the emblem, the cape and the belt. Is looking good but not great… the costume I mean.

    • I always thought the white gloves seemed out of place on the costume. So I don’t mind that they got rid of them. Everything else created by the ring is green with black so it seems logical to me that the suit would be also.

  5. Is it me or is this movie flying relatively low under the radar as compared to Thor and Captain America?

    • @longshanks
      I agree it almost seems like WB/DC is content letting Marvel tell everyone how great they are and WB/DC wants to let the product speak for itself. Its really interesting watching the two different approaches. Who knows maybe they’ll turn on the hype machine after Thor has been released.

      • It seems like they’re kind of hoping for a semi-sleeper hit…like IronMan. When I first heard of that project, I thought “Wow, it’s the next GhostRider..” but, then it was (in my opinion) obviously much, much better. Conversely, IM2…high expectations led to disappointment.
        I think they’re trying to generate buzz, but not overly hype this movie…for now. You may be right and the marketing machine will go into overdrive after Thor is released.
        I don’t watch much tv in the evenings, is Thor getting a lot of exposure? I only see things on the net, b/c I seek them out… I haven’t seen Thor toys at Mcdonalds or pictures on soda bottles yet. Are any of these movies going for that level of marketing (besides probably TF3, Pirates, & Potter)?

        • I work nights so I don’t really watch tv other than mu shows on the internet. With Thor it seems to be getting some pretty good exposure here in L.A. there are a good amount of advertisements and not. But it seems that the days of a fast food place putting out a toy for every movie has passed. I haven’t seen any Thor stuff in that capacity. (There very well could/will be) with that said I’ve seen really no hint here that GL is coming out this year. Normallu they have billboards up months upon months in advance.
          There is always the chance they were so concerned with the initial fan reaction that they decided to pull back a bit, work on the things that needed it, and then present it to the devoted GL fans to develop a good word of mouth before putting a ton of money into marketing. This is all speculation on my part obviously.

  6. Ever since I saw this panel at SDCC 2010 (I sat right next to Rob Keyes that day acutally – we chatted a bit about Green Lantern before the panel, iirc) I have been gunning to see this. I think it’s going to be good. I can’t wait! :)

  7. I don’t think Reynolds is the best choice for GL but thing I like about him is that he gives a dang about fanboys and wants them to be happy. I just like his attitude and I hope he does well in this movie…

  8. Reynolds has said all the right things, the rest of the cast seem to fit their characters pretty well, the effects look outstanding (anyone complaining about them must be totally blind), this will be brilliant.

    Unlike say The Dark Knight or Iron Man, they had to develop this world from the ground up, even if half of it is set on Earth, then the rest is on Oa, a totally alien world. Comic book movies have never been like this before, they have played it safe, this is a hugely ambitious project. Its the one I’m looking forward to the most this summer.

  9. Gotta give Ryan Reynolds serious props for these answers. He really answered them like somebody who thought and cared a lot about the movie. Something tells me that he is going to surprise us all by doing a very good job.

    And if the “darker side” of Hal Jordan is gonna be explored in the second movie, it would be interesting if they turned that movie in a semi-disaster movie. Not many superheroes have had their home cities destroyed after all – GL is one of them.