In a career that's already spanned over twenty years, Ryan Reynolds has been a sitcom star (Two Girls, a Guy and a Pizza Place) and a movie star, in films like Van Wilder, The Amityville Horror, Waiting..., Just Friends, Smokin' Aces, Definitely, Maybe, Adventureland, The Proposal, Paper Man, and Buried. He broke into the superhero biz by playing Hannibal King in 2004's Blade: Trinity, then took on the anti-heroic Wade Wilson (a.k.a. Deadpool) in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine; he is scheduled to reprise that role in the 2014 reboot Deadpool. Best known as Serena Van Der Woodsen on the CW hit Gossip Girl, Blake Lively also made a strong impression on the big screen as Bridget Vreeland in 2005's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and its 2008 sequel; other films include Accepted and New York, I Love You. Her career shifted gears last year when she took on a challenging role opposite Ben Affleck in his film The Town. Now Reynolds and Lively are anchoring a comic-book-movie franchise by playing Hal Jordan (a.k.a. Green Lantern) and Carol Ferris in the big-budget superhero fantasy Green Lantern, coming out June 17. The pair met the press and the public at San Francisco's Moscone Center during the 2011 WonderCon, where the conversation inevitably turned to their knowledge of the DC comics on which the film is based.
Ryan Reynolds: No, I didn't know much about him. Admittedly so. Yeah, I knew the logline. I knew, you know, "Guy's given a ring by a dying alien, becomes superhero." That's all I knew. So, yeah, it was a pretty accelerated education with these guys. And Geoff Johns was great to have around, because he was kind of like the mythology police on the set. He made sure everything was up to snuff. When you have an executive producer that's also a fanboy, if you're a studio, that's probably scary as shit...
Blake Lively: There was no debate: Carol Ferris is a brunette. And I'm blonde: I couldn't— (laughs). Yeah, it's not me; it's her. I had to make the fans proud. And I actually—there was this bodyguard that I work with on Gossip Girl, and he never says more than two words; I've worked with him for four years. He's very serious and stoic. And you would never pin him as somebody who's ever read a comic in his life. And as soon as it came out that I was cast for Carol Ferris, he pulled me aside and said, "Tell me what's happening!" and "What are the costumes?" and "Who's playing this?" and "You have to make sure—" and just, like, grilling me on Green Lantern. And he goes, "Your hair has to be brown." And I said, "Okay, yeah, I want it brown." And he goes, "You don't understand. It has to be brown. Not only for me," he goes, "but for your own security. Your life is in danger if you don't make your hair brown." So, you know, I said to Warner, "This is a matter of national security, so my hair must be brown..."
Groucho: I'd like you to talk a little bit about developing your character, or finding your way in to the character. And were the comics useful to you in doing that and anything in particular from the stories, or the images, you found to help you with your character?
Ryan Reynolds: Ma'am?
Blake Lively: Wow. You know, we were very lucky because we had Geoff with us on set often, so we had the current God of Green Lantern there. So we had this well of knowledge and resource. So, you know, we had somebody on set that, if we stepped out of line and weren't doing something right, we had the voice of all of you guys with us. And, you know, obviously we looked at the comics, too. One of my—my wrap gift from them was the very first comic that Star Sapphire appeared in. And I was so excited, I wanted to open it, but it was framed. They're like "No, no, no, no, you can't—you probably shouldn't touch that or soil it. You know, so I haven't actually seen the original one of that. But anyway, so Geoff was my greatest resource.
Ryan Reynolds: For me, it was—it's easy enough to sort of say, "Oh, he's the guy that can, you know, tell a joke, throw a punch, and kiss the girl: that kind of Han Solo type. But really it was—it's an origin story, in essence, and what I loved about the script is it didn't start—the movie didn't really start in the third act, like a lot of origin stories can do. It starts when it starts, right at the beginning, and that was something that was fantastic for me. But finding a character that is, at the beginning, quite cocky and arrogant—y'know, he's a guy who's really reckless, and he's given this unbelievable, extraordinary gift. And in receiving this gift, he actually finds a kind of humility and real purpose. And that was something that I thought was pretty, pretty cool...
Groucho: In looking at the cast list, it seems there's a conspicuous fathers theme going on.
G: There's a lot of fathers. And, of course, Hal has multiple mentors.
G: Can you talk a little bit about the dynamic between Hal and his father and those mentors, and also your dynamic with the actors who play them?
RR: Okay, yeah. Yeah, there's a lot of daddy issues in the movie. (Laughs.) I have some daddy issues, so we'll keep some tissue nearby. Yeah, he needs mentors. I mean, this is a guy that's out of control at the beginning of our film. And he's out of control I think in a more realistic way. He's not like, in the band Poison, and falling asleep on an oven, which is turned on. He's out of control in kind of a real-world sort of way. He's a kind of rudderless guy, who's reckless, and he's arrogant, he's misguided, and doesn't really know where he's going. And this ring chooses him, and it's an extraordinary gift, and it's humbling for him, and I think it gives him purpose in his life. And it draws him from rest to effort. And in doing so, he's shepherded by these guys. I mean, you have Mark Strong, who is such an immense talent and an immense presence, and no better person for that role than Mark Strong. He serves as a bit of a mentor as well. You have Kilowog, who's a mentor certainly in trying to figure out how to use this ring. And then you have Tomar-Re, who's inducting Hal and really showing him what this world is. Without those guys, it's also hard to explain the story to the audience, so it really allows us to just dispense with some of those conventions at the beginning of the film that are necessary evils, as well, in an interesting way.
G: In looping, do you get to meet the actors who are doing the voices, like Geoffrey Rush?
RR: Yeah, I haven't met Geoffrey, no. I've been in Capetown up until a day and a half ago, so I may start drooling. In the middle of this interview. I had a drool cup, but they told me I couldn't be photographed with it. So, yeah...
G: What about prepping for the Chuck Yeager side?
G: Did you meet some real test pilots?
RR: Yeah, we had them all over the set! I mean, I was down at an Air Force base, as well, in Louisiana. I spent a lot of time there with some of the reservists and hanging out with them and their planes and just seeing what that culture was like. And it was pretty interesting. I come from a family of cops, so they’re not unlike that, not unlike any kind of brother or sisterhood. There’s an unspoken code there that’s going on, and these guys definitely had it...
G: Are you privy to the sequel treatment, or do you have any thoughts as to where you'd like to see the story go?
RR: I already know where the story's gonna go. I think when people see the movie, they're going to know, as well. If we're all lucky enough to be a part of that, yeah, that would be great. But yeah, that's set-in-stone, pretty much, I think, where it's going to go...
G: So, Blake, could you talk first of all about the physical training that you did for the film? I read that you worked with Cirque du Soleil and all these different—
Blake Lively: I wish! That's not true! I wish half of these things on the internet were true. My life would be so much more exciting. No, I didn't work with anybody from Cirque du Soleil: they made our harnesses. That was—somebody misunderstood. But, you know, my training was nowhere near as life-changing as Ryan's was. I had very few stunts to do in this film, but they required a looot of core strength. So I trained for months for probably three seconds that you'll see on the film. Because you know I was on the thing called the Matrix rig, which is a rig they invented for The Matrix. And it's a forty-foot-long arm, and it's about thirty feet in the air, and it's a gyroscopic waist belt that you have. And the first time they put you up in it, they say, "Hey, go crazy." And I filmed it for my nieces and nephews. And you do these flips and turns and cartwheels in the air, and you can turn every which way, and you then you regret it with every ounce of nausea that you have.
G: And you feel it the next day.
BL: Oh my gosh, that's the best workout in the world. You see your body the next day, and you're like "What?!" You were ripped out of nowhere because you're using muscles that you don't normally use. But you had to have that sort of core strength in order to not get hurt at all. And also, I was shooting in New Orleans, which has just some of the greatest food on the planet. And I had two kitchens, and I love to cook and I love to eat. So training became something that was really good that I had to do it, because if not I might have looked like Violet Beauregard instead of Carol Ferris...
G: Did you meet any Air Force role models? Ryan was talking about—
BL: Goose. (Laughs.)
G: No, just getting into the Air Force culture. I'm just wondering what you picked up.
BL: I don't really—I think that we're not supposed to talk about that. (Laughs.) Yeeah. Well, we got some extra help that we shouldn't, y'know...we shouldn't have had. I mean, I feel like this is a matter of national security. I studied a lot: we watched a lot of footage on people inside the fighter planes; the outside, Ryan watched a lot of things about people ejecting, which is really a scary, scary, scary thing. But so incredible. This is not something that's a fantasy; this is real life. So, to me, in a lot of ways, this was more remarkable than the stuff that the Green Lantern does in space because people do this all the time. These are people's lives. So we spent a lot of time: we went in a flight simulator—for hours, we'd be flying planes. We really studied up. The part that was not so fun was the compression suit. Our costume designer said, "I could give you some babe version of the outfit, where it's tight around your waist, and you're wearing a wife-beater. They put Ryan in that version of it, thank goodness. But, y'know, she said, "This has to be real. He's late, and she's waiting for him. She would be ready to go into the air. So here I am in this baggy suit, and then they put a compression suit on top of it, a suit filled with air. There's nothing less flattering than that: a suit filled with air on top of another suit. And you start to walk like a GI Joe 'cause you can't move in it. And after the first take Martin came to me and he said, "You know, I understand that she's militant, but can you just walk a little—like tone that down?" And I was like, "That wasn't a character choice. I cannot move without walking like a character from Toy Story. But yeah, that was really—that was probably the most fun part of playing Carol...