Ryan Reynolds explains the surprise ‘Free Guy’ cameos — like the one that took only 7 minutes
‘Cameos are part of the showbiz ecosystem,’ the star says, and his new movie has some doozies.
Spoiler alert! The following article discusses important plot points and details from “Free Guy.”
Ryan Reynolds’ new action comedy “Free Guy” introduces an original video-game world, though there are plenty of high-profile cameos and a couple fun Disney Easter eggs.
The film centers on a background video-game character, Guy (Reynolds), turning from mild-mannered bank teller to a heroic phenomenon in a crazy “Grand Theft Auto”-style online landscape when he meets the uber-cool Molotov Girl, an avatar for game programmer Millie (Jodie Comer).
The digital world of Free City is threatened by a greedy software mogul Antwan (Taika Waititi) and his upcoming “Free City 2” sequel, which will erase Guy and all his video-game friends.
When Guy’s exploits in the game prove popular in the real world, he even gets to be a “Jeopardy!” clue: “This colorful character in the video game ‘Free City’ has been turning heads by being the good guy.” In a cameo, the late Alex Trebek hints to Guy’s relative mystery for the general populace with the line, “Who is he or she indeed.”
Reynolds has been on the real “Jeopardy!”show a few times, including an appearance in Trebek’s last round of episodes before his death last November, and the actor wanted Trebek in “Free Guy.”
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a friend of the show, but I’m friendly to the show,” Reynolds says. “And then weirdly in this moment, it was me asking Alex for a favor. He’s as gentlemanly and integrity-filled and as stalwart as you would imagine him to be in real life. He said yes right away, so we came in and grabbed our little cameo and I was super grateful for him for taking the time to do that.”
Trebek and Reynolds talked frequently, and shortly before his death, the host called Reynolds about a charity function he was doing. “The man was quite beautiful as far as human beings go, that’s for sure,” Reynolds says.
Many of Reynolds’ fellow A-list friendshave roles to play in “Free Guy.” Channing Tatum steps up as Revenjamin Buttons, a dance-happy avatar with moves like the “Shaky Man” and “Thanos’ Glove,” while others have small voice-only parts: Dwayne Johnson plays a masked bank robber, Tina Fey is a vacuuming mom, John Krasinski is a silhouetted gamer, and Reynolds’ old pal Hugh Jackman is a masked mystery manin an alley quickly disposed of by Molotov Girl.
“I genuinely love Hugh for all of our silly rivalries and that sort of stuff. He’s one of my closest friends. I’m really lucky to be able to call him that,” Reynolds says. “Cameos are part of the showbiz ecosystem. I feel like when somebody asks you to do a cameo, unless you’re geographically unavailable, I’m pretty much always going to say yes.”
Although Reynolds is well known for his maskedquip-meisterDeadpool, he gets to borrow from another Marvel Comics character during the climactic “Free Guy” fight: As the whole world watches online, Guy tussles with Dude (also Reynolds), Antwan’s ultra-muscular, dimwittedupgrade of Guy. Just as Dude unleashes his “Deathblow” maneuver in theirvideo-game brawl, Guy suddenly blocks it out of nowhere with Captain America’s shield. And in one of the movie’s funniest gags, the scene cuts to Chris Evans (a.k.a. movie Cap) in a coffee shop watching on his phone who then shouts, “What the (expletive)?!”
Evans was also in Boston when “Free Guy” was filming there, and Reynolds texted his friend to come by and do a scene. “He was incredibly kind and gracious,” Reynolds says. “I told him exactly what was happening and we were 100% ready for him before he ever even got close to set. He was in and out in about seven minutes.”
However, Reynolds confirms that it wasn’t one of Evans’ actual movie shields: He didn’t even know if Disney (which purchased 20th Century Fox in 2019 when “Free Guy” was in pre-production) “would say 100% yes until after we shot it. So we were leaving room to make that shield something else if we had to.” The Mouse House was also cool with the bit where Guy whips out a lightsaber on Dude and the “Star Wars” theme kicks in.
“It’s a pretty special feeling to be in a theater seeing that happen,” Reynolds says. “For all of our concerns and worries, (Disney) ended up being the most supportive partner you could ever imagine. They were pretty gung-ho about making an original blockbuster film in the summertime.”
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