Ryan Reynolds on being Pikachu, combatting anxiety and Canadian melodramas



You know, I've seen "movie stars", with giant air quotes that it's really one of the more devastating things that's ever happened to them. When you think of an actor to play Pikachu be honest, you also think of a 188cm Canadian named Ryan, right? Well someone certainly did which is why Ryan Reynolds is playing Detective Pikachu in the brand new movie 'Detective Pikachu'. Which explains why I'm here, the natural birthplace of all Pokemon. To find out how the hell that happened. – Ryan Reynolds
– Hello, sir! – It's nice to meet you in Tokyo.
– We made it. We did, right? Before we get into your broader career just, Pikachu right? Can you just put me in the room where someone is going, "I see you as a one foot tall fuzzy thing. How do you feel about playing that role? 'Cause I feel like that meeting would be amazing. It would be an amazing meeting and I feel like I was robbed of the opportunity. Because, I didn't know this, but basically they take the Pikachu character, they render it and then they animate it to probably 50 other actors voices. Just culling lines from other movies. Somehow they got to mine, I assume they didn't use 'Deadpool'. Actually, it was 'Deadpool', yeah they used 'Deadpool' but none of the naughty words. It's the greatest casting process on Earth because there's no anxiety for any of the actors. You don't know you're auditioning. When Justice is out there filming, at least for some of it, you are feeding him your performance in an earpiece. You have a background in improv, is that to keep some of the energy? It's to understand the chemistry, it's also because I like to phone things in. I'm just on the other side like "Is that how you're gonna do it?" Your background in improv goes way, way, waaay back to the beginning. That was something you started as a kid? Yeah, that was kind of my escape as a kid. I did that in Vancouver, British Columbia. Then when I moved to Los Angeles I had no aspirations to be sitting down here talking to you as someone who's working in films, I wanted to join the Groundlings. A famed improv comedy group in Los Angeles. I just love that you skipped over the 'Hillside' years. There's like whole YouTube channels dedicated to this show that you did in Canada. 'Hillside', my God, there's an oldie but a goldie. The story goes that a big reason why you got the role over all these other kids is because of the improv skills. Yeah, 'cause they didn't use scripts. We we given a scenario, we would got in and make it up. I was like, that's easy. You didn't even have to be funny. I can value add here, I can do the lines and I can be funny. Yeah, exactly, so I kinda just got to goof around. They didn't want funny. That show was like desperately melodramatic. It was so melodramatic that I felt like I was itching the funny bone. I was like, this is so dramatic that it's hilarious. Then super stoned college kids kept it on the air for the remainder of its run. – And they've been uploading it to YouTube ever since.
– 100% Why move to Hollywood in the first place, what made you want to pick up and move? Well, it was harder to acquire a drug addition in Canada. Have you tried, though, I mean did you really give it a go? You gotta commit to these things. No, no. Hollywood, my experience would differ from a lot of other peoples, but I found it to be a struggle. It's a struggle moving to any city, I didn't have a lot of friends or anything like that. I immediately tried to immerse myself in the improv community in Los Angeles. – I think it's the best acting school on Earth.
– Why? What's good about it? Well, it really focuses on listening. You really have to listen. And so much of acting is putting yourself in other people's position. It's weirdly empathetic. You're constantly forced to ask yourself what would someone like that say or do or feel in that moment? You're always listening to your partner, you're not suppose to ever say no in a scene. In improv you're suppose to say yes and. It was great, the best training I've ever had. A big part of the appeal of that early experience is being able to feed off a live audience. So when you're on set where there's this big apparatus around you. How are you still getting that feedback? How are you knowing that jokes are landing and stuff like that? I've never had a scene in my life where I've walked away and I'm like, "nailed it". – Really?!
– Never once. Why is that do you think? I don't know, I mean, I've done this for 26 years. You start to become your own worst critic. So, most of the time I'm being really hard on myself. So, I've never had that. I would love that. I know actors that are like, "It's perfect." I'm like, oh that must feel so great. You must sleep like a baby at night. You've talked a little bit about anxiety and how it feeds into your life. One of the things I read about is that when you were doing 'Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place" that you chose to do the warm up. Was that about building up the relationship with the audience to get rid of the anxiety, was that what was going on there? Oh 100%, I mean back then I had no support system like I do now. I had no outlet for that. So to deal with this inner hurricane that was happening I would jump up into the audience and do the warm up. It was just a great way to expel that super anxious energy into something productive. Do actors get too much attention? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It's weird to ask in the context of an interview, I'v just realised. No, no actors do get too much attention, you know, good and bad. They're both kind of toxic. It's a little different now because I feel like the movie star system is fading away. As opposed to, oh so-and-so is in this movie, I'll go see anything they do. The audience nowadays are a little more discerning about that and I think it's healthy. Why do you think it's healthy? From a layperson's standpoint and for the purposes of this I am layperson It would benefit you to have this system in perpetuity. – You're a beautiful lay.
– Thank you. – I certainly try to be.
– Right? – The night is young.
– It's like morning, but it is young. – It is.
– There's plenty of day in front of us. I don't know, I just see a lot of attention, good and bad, is probably not great for anybody. Some people thrive on it, some people handle it very well and integrate it into who they are in a way that works incredibly well. Then there are people who don't. I've seen movie stars with giant air quotes where it's really one of the more devastating things that has ever happened to them. One of the last things I wanted to do before I leave you. You did something really incredible a few years ago where you ran the New York marathon. To raise money for the Michael J. Fox foundation for research for Parkinson's. – Got it out in one breath.
– Nailed it. Why was that important for you to do that? My father had Parkinson's, he died a couple years ago. But he struggled with Parkinson's his whole life. My father was a very proud man. I think he said the word Parkinson's to me maybe twice. In the 25 years that he had the disease. So, not unlike how I deal with some issues surrounding anxiety, I think the more people talk about it, the more I see guys like my father, Who was the archetypal, strong man, the kinda guy like don't talk about your feelings, cram them down. Sort of robbed of their physicality. You know, he was strong, he was an ex-boxer, a cop. I think part of his identity was that he was a very strong man. So it kind of forced him to reassess all those things. Which in a way is a good thing. But, in the end, some of the side effects – Lewy dementia, Lewy body dementia – these things the effected Robin Williams and a lot of other people can be really devastating. That loss of self, not quite knowing where you stand at any given moment is pretty tough. I wonder if some of those underlying ideas or reasons we do get sick or sicker is because we're not expressing ourselves or letting those things out. Ryan, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it.

16 comments

  1. You can always confess your feelings to God. That’s how I get it out. I love how down to Earth he is ❤️

  2. Great interview from both sides. Nice to see some real questions and real answers too. Enjoyed the real ness, thanks guys x

  3. This was a really great interview and the interviewer is really smart. He asked deep meaningful questions but he was funny and lighthearted at the same time so Ryan could answer honestly bc he didn't feel the pressure. Well done!

  4. Heartbreaking his father had Lewy body dementia. That is so much worse than just Parkinson’s.

  5. They did the same thing with Tom Hanks for toy story. They took lines from Turner and Hooch put it on an early woody animation and sent it to Hanks or Hanks' agent

  6. Much love for Ryan Reynolds, but it sucked that Pikachu talked at all. This should have been an Ash Ketchum origin story, not detective whatever.

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