Ryan Reynolds is enjoying what he describes as the “most rewarding” time in his life. Happily married to fellow actor Blake Lively, with two young daughters (Ines, one, and James, three), the Canadian heartthrob has found the kind of happiness that was frustratingly elusive in his 20s.
At 41, Ryan resurrected a floundering career with his smash box-office success Deadpool, the highest grossing R-rated film of all time (Deadpool 2 opened in Australia last month). He personally lobbied 20th Century Fox for more than a decade to make the film and when the slick, self-mocking action comedy finally saw the light of day in 2016, it went on to earn almost $800 million at the worldwide box office. The trash-talking, foul-mouthed, angst-ridden comic-book outsider was a hit with audiences and far surpassed industry expectations and those of Reynolds himself.
You’ve said in the past that you’re glad this kind of success has come later in your career. Can you explain?
What I think is that if Green Lantern had been a massive success and earned $6 billion, maybe I would have got trapped for life playing in superhero movies. I think I’ve benefited in life from having gone through those peaks and valleys and also made a lot of other films that have been important to me.
Does having children also make for a big change in your perspective on everything?
Having a family means that you stop worrying about a lot of stupid things and you start focusing on the present.
I remember how I used to get bored when people would show their baby pictures, and I wanted to jump out of the window after parents would show me baby photos on their phone displays.
Since I’ve become a father, though, I can’t stop taking my own children’s photos and showing them to my friends. And when other people show me photos of their children, I’m very open to that and I’ll start asking questions about how they get their kids to go to sleep and different things about parenting.
Have you already started thinking about the kind of life education you would like to give to your daughters?
I want them to grow up feeling loved and protected and without feeling like they’re part of a celebrity family. They deserve to have as normal a life as possible and I would also like them to grow up in the outdoors, the way I and my brothers grew up.
Even though you’re a very outgoing type of individual, you’ve been very protective of your family’s privacy.
I’m concerned with protecting my children’s privacy. Your children deserve to grow up without being made self-conscious of who their parents are and why photographers are following your family. They never get to make a choice, so I want to shield them as much as I can from the kind of public exposure that Blake and I deal with because of our work.
You went to college but then you decided to quit and move to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time.
I was getting bored in college and one day I just thought I should drive down in my Jeep to LA and see what would happen. I spent a lot of time auditioning and expecting that everyone would be ready to hire me.
I found out pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to be like that and that I was competing against a lot of very talented people who had exactly the same ambitions as I had.
What made you stay the course?
You’ve got to be willing to tough it out but I thought acting was a lot more interesting than driving a forklift or any of the other odd jobs I had done up to that point.
Now that you’ve hit your 40s, do you have any different perspective on life?
You have this feeling that life is passing you by much faster, suddenly. You begin to feel your mortality.
ESTROGEN \ I’m just fine being surrounded by estrogen. I grew up in a house full of testosterone: I’m the youngest of four boys, and my dad was a cop, and that’s intense. I love having [two] girls because I remember what it was like in my house growing up where us guys would destroy the house when our parents were out.
BLAKE LIVELY’S SENSE OF HUMOUR \ My wife is the real deal. I mean she is a mercenary. At one point in the middle of the delivery (of daughter James), the doctor’s cell phone went off and she said, ‘Oh, no. Go ahead; take a personal call. Feel free.’ She was cracking jokes in the delivery room.
ANXIETY \ I’ve dealt with anxiety for most of my life. I have three older brothers, (and) our father was tough. I think the anxiety might have started there. By the time we were in [post-production with Deadpool], we’d been to Comic-Con and people went crazy for it. The expectations were eating me alive. I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown. I went to go see a doctor because I felt like I was suffering from a neurological problem or something. And every doctor I saw said, ‘you have anxiety.’ I’m just lucky that I had Blake to help me keep it together and keep me sane.
TATTOOS \ I hate them all [Reynolds’ body is speckled with tattoos he had put on as a teenager]. It takes three hours in makeup to mask them. I’d get them all lasered off if it wasn’t hours and hours of brutal pain. But my wife says I should keep them, keep a record of the choices I’ve made.
- Deadpool 2 is showing in cinemas nationally.