Ryan Reynolds is not one to shy away from a balanced mix of humour and action in his movies and The Hitman’s Bodyguard is jam-packed with it.
The 40-year-old is a hot shot bodyguard who finds himself protecting a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice.
In a Q&A about the action comedy film, Ryan sheds light on working with acting legend Samuel L Jackson, his badass fight scenes and making a possible sequel of the film.
Can you tell us about your character Michael Bryce?
Michael Bryce is a sort of top tier executive protection agent. He is a guy that would be assigned to foreign dignitaries, and assigned to people who are at the top of the criminal underground. Basically anybody who is at risk of losing their life to a bullet of some kind.
So, he’s a guy who kind of suffers from a lot of hubris and he has this idealised image and romanticised image of himself in his mind, that he is a triple-A rated sort of best of the best kind of guy, which becomes startlingly untrue to him as we move forward through the film.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard was on the prestigious blacklist (the annual list of popular unproduced scripts). Did you know about it then or did somebody bring it to you?
Yeah, I read it years ago when it was at Paramount and then it kicked around for awhile and came back to me again. It’s always weird when you read something from one point in your life and then you read it again many years later. I said yeah, let’s do the movie! And then I read the script and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really serious.’
The original draft was great, (screenwriter) Tom Connor wrote it, but just before we were set to start shooting, we jumped in there and gave it this really light pass, particularly with Sam’s voice, giving it a lot more boisterous attitude and giving Bryce a bit more as the disgruntled sort of straight man, to Kinkaid’s (Samuel L Jackson) kind of wild, anti-hero.
To be able to go in and workshop this film to the version we see on the screen, is that something you learned from working on Deadpool or was it something you cultivated over the years?
Kind of a little of both. Everything that I learned from Deadpool I threw out or took to mean it as a hard lesson learned because I worked on Deadpool for nearly 11 years and didn’t get it made, so I thought it must be me. But you need to workshop things in certain ways and it just depends on the film. And sometimes you will work with a filmmaker who is very attached to the material as written and you have to respect that when you sign on. This was not that situation. We had Patrick Hughes, who also jumped in late in the game as well and he replaced the previous director. But he was up for anything, he just wanted to see a big, fun action movie with some spectacle and some laughs and that is what we all kind of huddled up to give him.
When you work with someone like Samuel L Jackson did you have to spend a little time to generate the chemistry on screen or did you work with him before?
You are hard pressed to not have met Sam Jackson at some point in your Hollywood sojourn, just because he is ubiquitous, the guy is everywhere. He’s probably one of the hardest working men in show business, I would put him up there with The Rock and Kevin Hart, these guys that never put it down, they just go, go, go, and I don’t know where he finds the energy.
Sam and I had only worked on an animated film before so we knew each other from that, doing the press rounds on that. But we had never shot a film together. So this is our first time, and I think there was a natural chemistry there that was inherent right from the get-go.
A lot of your scenes are in a small confined space with Samuel L Jackson, what does one learn when you are in a small space with the actor?
There’s one thing that you can always count on with Sam, is that he is going to be professional. I don’t think guys exist in this industry as long as Sam has existed if they are not professional and do not carry a fundamental sense of gratitude for their position and their ability to do what they love. And that is a lesson that you can’t learn enough. So you are always going to get that.
You are going to get grumpy Sam some days too. By the way, grumpy Sam is a lot of fun. I almost prefer grumpy Sam, because it creates a weird mercurial element in the room and on set and it’s fun.
Do you sit back and let grumpy Sam go?
Oh yes. You do not bridle the merriment. You let grumpy Sam go and you let grumpy Sam be a muckraker to a certain degree and that is fun. And it creates a weird tension on set.
Grumpy Sam is one of the most entertaining people that you will ever meet in your life. So I would go on record saying I love grumpy Sam, but for the most part he is nothing but hospitable and charming and damn funny.
You have some really amazing, long fight sequences in the film. What was it like filming them?
The long fight sequences, yeah! That was really exciting to shoot, I really loved that. And again, largely improvised on the day. We have tools in this kind of do-it-yourself shop and we go in like a dance, it was a lot of fun. But that was Patrick Hughes, he was kind of the mastermind and stitched those shots together to look like one shot.
What was it like to work with director Patrick Hughes?
I love Patrick because he’s a guy that wants to enjoy himself and really wants to see a movie that is entertaining. He really understood that the basic ideology everyone was going for with this film was just to entertain an audience and have a lot of fun and have an action spectacle that is not just adrenalized, but also funny.
You got to work with Elodie Yung, what was she like on this film?
Yeah, she is great. She is one of the lead Interpol agents on the case and a past relationship of Bryce’s, someone that he has never been able to kind of let go of and he is sort of obsessed with. And so through his journey with Sam’s character and all the trials and tribulations they go through, there is a weird kind of relationship there that happens.
In every movie there is a love story and in this case, the real love story is between Bryce and Kinkaid, my character and Sam’s character. But as a sort of a B plot, there’s another love story between Elodie’s role Amelia and Bryce. They have this sort of long lost unrequited love that they need to sort out. And they do and it’s fun.
Salma Hayek very happily said that she would love to work on another Hitman’s Bodyguard if there were to be a sequel, would you be game to come back to another round?
I have my hands full in another Deadpool universe right now, so I am not sure yet, we would have to see. The experience was super fun and I loved it and anytime you are creating a new I.P for an audience, it’s fun.
WATCH THE TRAILER OF THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD HERE:
The Hitman’s Bodyguard opens in SA cinemas on Friday, 18 August.
(This interview was exclusively supplied to Channel24 Movies in South Africa. Photos: Lionsgate, Millennium Media)