Ryan Reynolds is known for being able to handle virtually any situation with grace and wit, but in a few months, he'll have some extra help from a piece of jewelry and a squadron of intergalactic policemen. Green Lantern is the actor's first big superhero role, and in the film he plays the title character, a cocky pilot who inherits a mantle of responsibility from a dying alien. Facing down a capacity crowd at San Francisco's Wondercon, the actor seemed no more daunted than his character might, especially with the terrific footage Warner Brothers screened in conjunction with his appearance. Immediately afterward, Boxoffice joined a small group of journalists to discuss the challenges of filling out that super suit, and finding the right collaborators in order to bring Green Lantern to life.
In the panel you said you initially weren't too familiar with the character of Green Lantern. As you got familiar with Hal Jordan, what was it about him that made him stand out to you as opposed to Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne?
I've never heard of those other guys (laughs). But for me, it was that transformation. It was having this guy who is arrogant, cocky and reckless and could be given a higher calling and really rise to that purpose and, in that process, find it humbling. I thought that was really, really interesting. That transformation that happens early on in the film is really great. This guy that really has to make the effort. He has to do something with his life in a huge way and, in turn, saves countless other people's lives.
The film relies heavily on CGI. How much pressure does that add on-set, not knowing exactly what everything is going to look like?
Well, it's never good to get in a plane unless you know that you've got a good pilot. Part of that challenge is just having Martin Campbell. Look, I've got enough miles under me to be savvy about those things. To say, "Who did Warner Brothers hire? Who did they hire to do the production design? Who did they hire to do the costumes? Who did they hire to shoot the movie?" Those are all really important questions that you don't think about when you're starting your career. We're in good hands. They're spending the money on the right people to do this the right way. At some point, you've just got to surrender. You say, "I'm going to take care of my end of the bargain and they're going to take care of theirs." Then you see the end result. Or the 90% finished result, as I saw today, and you go, "Okay. They're doing it. They're creating that world." It's exciting. You hear he audience roar with applause you realize that this is what we do this for. People bitch and whine and moan on-set because it's 180 degrees and you're wearing a lycra costume that you'd much rather just light on fire and never see again, but you're here. You're seeing it in front of its core audience. It's pretty exciting.
There's a lot of talk of CGI as a hindrance, but it's interesting that it's the story of a guy whose world is built out of willpower and imagination and the film literally does just that. Did having to imagine this world help you click into that mindset?
Yeah. I mean, some actors just can't do it. They need to have that world in front of them in order to do it. But I would have felt like an ***hole asking them to build a lifesize version of Oa with an 18-story power battery in the middle of it. And there's the budget. So you really have to embrace the make-believe and pretend. It's really like being a kid again and actually having that power manifest itself is really pretty exciting and would be for anybody. We get to experience that through Hal. Working with a greenscreen stage for six months, you're literally in the world of make-believe and pretend. In a typical drama movie where you have all this elements right in front of you, all you're doing is believing. In this, you're having to do both. You're having to believe and you're having to pretend. It's like a muscle that has atrophied and once it's back, it's there and it's exciting and fun. You invent things. When you invent things -- when I turn my head and look at something - Martin [Campbell] doesn't question what I'm doing. When I watch the film, suddenly the character Bzzt is cruising by. It's so great to see that.
What does Martin Campbell bring to the filmmaking process?
He brings an immense range of talent. He's done serious dramas and action films and even some lighthearted stuff. He was also a shooter. He started out as a shooter, or cinematographer. You couple that with the power of Dion Beebe, who's one of the best in the business, and you've really got something. But he knows what it's like to put a knife fight in a phone booth on the screen. He's not even here and when he's done with the movie, he's going to sleep for 200 years. He lives in a little dungeon and I'm sure his family is incredibly angry at him since they haven't seen him in years.
Have you seen anything in the film that has really blown you away with what they've done in post?
I've been in South Africa for the past two-and-a-half months. In Green Lantern months, that's like 30 years in terms of post-production. Things happen in leaps and bounds in that amount of time. I saw that a day and half ago and I just now got rid of my drool cup. The footage has just incredible. But nothing as far along as what we just saw now.
So it's sort of like seeing the film for the first time?
It's all seeing it for the first time. It's amazing. You go from a soundstage that's four walls and a blue screen and you're in a totally different world.
Have you seen any of the footage in 3D yet?
I haven't seen anything in 3D yet, but I think that a movie like this really lends itself to being a 3D film. The constructions and the alien worlds and all the stuff on Oa really lends itself to the format.
Since you never wore the suit on-set, does it only now feel like it's paying off all the work you did, getting to see yourself on-screen?
Yeah, but what's weird is that when I found out how they were doing the suit, I said, "So why do I have to be in shape? You're putting the thing over my damned body! What am I doing, killing myself every morning?" But then I found out that they bodyscan you every two weeks. They laser-scan you. Which is something. You think, "I look pretty good!" and then you see the three-dimensional views and go, "I have work to do." So it was kind of a weird experience to see that. But yeah, I was kind of wondering if, for the next movie, they could just use the old scans. Then I could eat human food instead of, you know, dog kibble.
If the film spawns sequels, is there anything specific from the mythology that you'd like to see? Would you want to explore the dark side of Hal?
Yeah, I'm game for that. If we were to do a second film, I know where that's going. But a third, I have no idea. That would be very exciting. I'd love to maybe hand it over to one of the others. Guy Gardner or John Stewart or something.
Do you know what's going to be happened with R.I.P.D.? Is that going to be your next project?
I don't know. I hope so. I always think that you're not really doing a movie until you break for lunch on the fifth day. But it would be fantastic. We're still trying to work it out with cast and crew. We'll see.