10 Questions with Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds is the star of the wild new comedy, National Lampoon's Van Wilder, which takes the baton from National Lampoon's Animal House as the modern gross-out college comedy.

Ryan grew up in Canada as the youngest of four children. His father, Jim, was a Vancouver food wholesaler, and his mother, Tammy, was a saleswoman.

His acting career began in 1991, on the show Fifteen, a "cheesy" Nickleodeon series taped in Florida. "Stoned college kids kept it on the air for two years," he says. "It was a real victory for pot, everywhere."

After that series mercifully ended, Ryan returned to Vancouver, but landed roles in Glenn Close's Serving In Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story and CBS's update of In Cold Blood.

But after a series of forgettable TV movies, Ryan actually decided to quit acting. Then one night, he ran into fellow Vancouver actor & native Chris Martin. Martin found Ryan rather despondent, and told him to pack everything -- they were going to head to Hollywood! The two stayed in a cheap L.A. motel. On the first night of their stay, Reynold's jeep was rolled down hill and stripped. For the next four months, Ryan drove it without doors.

In 1997, he landed the role in "Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place." Initially the show was reviled by critics and seemed shaky for any type of ratings success. But it was renewed for a second season, but with a provision for a makeover by former "Roseanne" writer Abbott. The show became a minor success and has led to additional film roles.

He had roles in Dick, Coming Soon, and The Alarmist. Next he'll star opposite Ron Livingston, Bridgette Wilson and Jerry O'Connell in the Destination Films' comedy Buying the Cow, and in the independent feature Finder's Fee, a thriller written and directed by Jeff Probst (Survivor).

SportsHollywood sat down with Ryan at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills to talk about college, Canada, and comedy.

REYNOLDS: Wait! You don't sound "international"!!!

(Okay, we snuck into the "Foreign Press" room.)

SportsHollywood: How does this film compare to your college career?

REYNOLDS: It doesn't at all. I went to college briefly in Canada. I left three years and seven months early, to pursue... other things. I went to a school called Kwantlan University in British Columbia. Our Spring Break was just a blur of figure skating and singing "Kumbaya."

SportsHollywood: Was there a Van Wilder at your school?

REYNOLDS: No, and I certainly wasn't there long enough to find or become one. I was an introvert at school and an extrovert at home. I wish I had explored that.

SportsHollywood: How did you get this part?

REYNOLDS: I did a movie with (Van Wilder director) Walt Becker called Buying the Cow, which is ironically coming out after this movie, and the people from Artisan saw the movie and said, "That's our Van Wilder." The argument, of course, was "Where's his box office?" I mean, I did a movie four years ago that... my mom went to see, so that doesn't really count -- the eight bucks there doesn't really sell foreign. But they took a chance on me. And they let me do a comedy my way -- I've always wanted to do that. I had a meeting where I duped them, basically, into giving me this role. I came into that meeting loaded...

SportsHollywood: Loaded?

REYNOLDS: Hammered. I made a stop at the mini-bar. Worked the Magic Eight-Ball. It said "Go for it." No, I had a speech prepared for how I wanted to do this and how I would present this character. It's a larger-than-life character, and it's my responsibility to create that. If it happens or doesn't happen, it's my fault and no one will ever know what it could have been compared to what it is -- if we're going into it deep enough here -- I knew what I had to do. I knew how I wanted to make it. I knew what I had to do to create that character. Most Lampoon characters are already invented, but this is one that wasn't at all. It's a new creation.

SportsHollywood: How did you feel about doing a National Lampoon movie?

REYNOLDS: I was scared, actually. It was a legacy that I grew up with. It's the proverbial teet from which I was weened. That was dramatic...

(Grabbing the recorder)

Rewind! Rewind!

(Releases recorder and sits back... and that recorder -- is she ever disappointed.)

I loved Animal House, though it was before my time, and all the Vacation movies... but we don't ever have to talk about Loaded Weapon. Baaaad movie. Anyway, I was worried right up until last week when I snuck into a screening of the movie and saw 600 kids reacting to something that I did. I'd never seen that before. They were rolling with laughter. It was the most incredible thing I've ever experienced.

SportsHollywood: Were you ever concerned about the sexual or off-color material?

REYNOLDS: (Laughing.) The nudity I'm fine with -- I'm lucky, I wear pants. But I'm not going to make an argument over "gross-out humor" being a valid element to contemporary comedy because... I don't care. This movie is 90% character-driven. The plot is advanced through Van's character. That was my argument at the beginning of the shoot: Two days into shooting I was produced by some of the producers, saying, "Look, don't you want to step things up a bit?" I said, "Yeah, I do -- and I will, it's just you have this character, Van Wilder, who is going to be in every scene of this movie. Let me pick my battles -- let me reel it in right now, and earn the bigger, broader moments later." Two or three weeks into it, we all realized what we were doing. It's driven by character.

SportsHollywood: Did you base you interpretation on anybody in particular?

REYNOLDS: No, not really. I kind of just based it on ... It's the same process as writing -- you have to shape the character. I just did as much of that as I could -- brought out parts of my personality in the love story. We're not making National Lampoon's The Piano here.

SportsHollywood: What was it like working with Tara Reid?

REYNOLDS: It was great! I had no idea that she was the pop-culture icon that she is. I went to the Super Bowl together, and I almost punched out about five angry, drunk, pathetic people after they tried to grab her in every way, shape and form -- she had to have bodyguards and all sorts of stuff -- I had no idea. You could seen her turn Bourbon Street ninety degrees in one direction. It was unbelievable to see that.

But working with her was just like working with any other person -- we had nice chemistry, we worked well together, I enjoyed her as a person.

SportsHollywood: You went to the Super Bowl together?

REYNOLDS: That was part of the ad capaign. NO, IT WASN'T A DATE!!!

You had Mardi Gras and Super Bowl going on at once. That was wild. There must be dialysis machines working overtime in New Orleans right now.

SportsHollywood: What was the tougher scene to film? The seamstress or the old lady?

REYNOLDS: A lot of people don't see this answer coming but, uh, she did it for me. Like a fine wine or most of Napa. It worked quite well for me -- there's nothing like a mature, yet arting, tongue. She took her tooth out and said, "Would this be better?" And then, if you could ever have a real musical sting fire off in your head -- "Boom-Boom, Boomboom!!! Wait, what was that the theme from?

SportsHollywood: That was The Price is Right, wasn't it?

REYNOLDS: Right! The "international" press wouldn't have got that...

Interview by Jeff Hause

Ryan Reynolds
Van Wilder (2002), Buying the Cow (2001), Finder's Fee (2000), We All Fall Down (2000), Dick (1999), Coming Soon (1999), Big Monster on Campus (1998), Tourist Trap (1998/I), "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" (1998), Life During Wartime (1997), When Friendship Kills (1996), In Cold Blood (1996), Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1996), Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story (1995), My Name Is Kate (1994), Ordinary Magic (1993), "The Odyssey" (1992), "Fifteen" (1991)

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