SAN FRANCISCO — In a bar transformed to mimic the Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Girls watering hole in “Deadpool” (opening Friday), Ryan Reynolds and co-star T.J. Miller shared thoughts about the 11-year journey to give the Marvel character his own feature film.
As noted by “Deadpool” screenwriter Rhett Reese, “A lot of comic book movies almost feel like you could watch them without sound and still get what’s going on.” Reynolds clearly agreed. “Deadpool is ‘the Merc with the mouth.’ I’m not surprised if people will see this film more than once, because it’s easy to miss stuff. So many lines are so fast, it’s easy to miss a joke, especially if people are laughing at the last line.
“The jokes keep coming. But I think it’s important that it’s all balanced with great action. There’s obviously some pretty intense violence in the film, but that’s also always undercut with the humor and comedy. That’s what makes ‘Deadpool’ ‘Deadpool,’ and we were so amazed the studio let us make a real ‘Deadpool’ movie, and even now I can’t believe it.”
Asked if Wade Wilson/Deadpool’s humor in movie matches Reynolds’ real-life wit, Miller nodded vigorously. “It’s so Ryan Reynolds,” said Miller (as Reynolds winked and nodded but said, “No, not at all!”)
A Chicago veteran of Second City, Annoyance Theatre and iO Theatre, Miller “had heard Ryan was an improviser. But once we got on the set, I realized he’s one of the best improvisers I’ve come across in the business — including those Chicago improv theaters who have turned out so many great comedians.”
Miller said that he believes the reason “things seem so spontaneous or organic in the movie is because Ryan was coming up with a lot of it while we were filming. We had a great script from Rob [Liefeld] and Rhett, but a lot of Ryan’s improvisation elevated the movie to what you saw in the final cut.”
Ryan quickly inserted, “I have a Ouija board with a direct line to [the late famed comedic actor and improvisation genius] Jonathan Winters. That’s why I work so well in this industry.”
As Vancouver native Reynolds realized he was sitting down with two Chicago veterans, he turned the tables and asked a question himself.
“Why is that all the people I know from Chicago are so funny — including both performers and writers. Chicagoans are almost more funny that the people we have in Canada.”
Miller didn’t hesitate. “It’s because it’s so cold in Chicago! You have to be laughing or otherwise the tragedy of the weather would drive you crazy!”
Since “Deadpool” is jam-packed with some pretty amazing stunts, Reynolds knew he ran the risk of suffering an injury — despite the “movie magic” of talented stunt performers doing the really dangerous moves.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” said Reynolds. “I’m 39 years old, and hitting cement isn’t as hilarious as it used to be. So I trained to not get hurt. I spent five months before shooting to get in shape so I wouldn’t get hurt so that it would stop production once we began filming.”
That said, the actor admitted he ended up in front of the camera a lot more than he originally had thought he would.
“My thinking was like this: ‘OK, I’m wearing a suit and a mask that covers my face, so I can let the stunt guy take over and I can go home a lot of the time.’
“The problem with that concept was so much of the fighting in the film is character work. So much of it is funny and physical in a certain way. They needed me to be delivering my lines right through that mask, while all the action was taking place.”
That combination of witty zingers amidst all the fighting and fast-paced action, he explained, was inspired by “one of my real heroes. Muhammad Ali is a big inspiration for me for ‘Deadpool,’ because of the way he constantly talked while he boxed. Like Deadpool cracking jokes while fighting the bad guys. I was constantly thinking of Ali’s line: ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.’ “