With his new film The Voices hitting cinemas, we spoke to Ryan Reynolds about everything from serial killers to singing.
Your new film, The Voices, sees you play a serial killer who takes advice from talking pets. Was it a big jump from your other roles?
A big jump – he’s certainly not the most stable of people – but only in as much as [I was] working with an incredible filmmaker on material we all felt hadn’t been tackled before. Film premises get recycled, so it was nice to read a script that was so original. Pair that with [director] Marjane Satrapi, it was something I begged for.
Your character Jerry is haunted by demons. Did you research into mental health?
No. It feels sort of irresponsible to not say, “Oh yeah, I did a ton of research,” but Jerry is not meant to reflect real-life issues. I didn’t even want to rehearse it. Marjane suggested rehearsing, even though she hates rehearsing, so we got together and spent 10 minutes doing that, then I watched her smoke about 600 cigarettes and we abandoned the idea.
You also voice Jerry’s pets Bosco the dog and Mr Whiskers the cat. Did it get confusing?
It occurred to me the voices Jerry’s hearing are aspects of his fractured psyche, therefore he should be the voice – or, rather, I should be the voice – but masked, or filtered through whatever point of view this character has. I took my phone, grabbed a scene in the script that had all three of them in, recorded a conversation and emailed it to Marjane and the producers. Within an hour, I was doing six roles in the movie – they also gave me the deer, then the sock, and a few other things…
Mr Whiskers has a convincing Scottish accent. Was he based on anyone in particular?
I knew this Scottish gentleman who had a mercenary sensibility and does business with lead-pipe cruelty, and that was the cat to me. With the dog, I kept picturing Billy Bob Thornton, or a real Southern gentleman. Just a guy who has a black-and-white take on the world.
You star alongside Gemma Arterton – did she teach you any British traits or traditions?
[Laughs] Well, I’m Canadian. Isn’t Canada, by virtue of where we’re from, a British tradition? I mean, Queen Elizabeth is on our money….
As a man who often tops ‘best dressed’ lists, was it tough sporting a pink boiler suit?
Most of the outfits I wear in that movie are horrendous, right down to the tighty whities with the cell phone attached. But I loved it. The bathtub factory where Jerry works is an idealised representation of Jerry’s vision. So when Jerry is on his medicine, the world looks as it actually is; less cheery. But the terrible outfits Jerry wears, I will take credit for those.
The Voices is being pitched as your big return – does this feel like an important film for you?
I don’t know – you always think they’re important. I’m definitely having the most creatively satisfying year I’ve ever had. I’ve got this, Mississippi Grind, which premiered at Sundance [in January], and Woman In Gold. I don’t know if it’s so much me as it is my choices – trying to stay close to brilliant filmmakers.
There are epic moves during the credits. Are you a good dancer?
I can’t follow choreography. It’s like I have a significant head injury when people start trying to tell me where to step or how to do it. But the singing terrified me the most. My co-stars happen to be Anna Kendrick, Gemma Arterton and Ella Smith – all fully trained singers. I was just doing a really bad Michael McDonald impression.
How did you beat your nerves?
Marjane would laugh [at me] with her weird expression, saying I looked like “cold yoghurt” as I walked in to record my part. I had a flop sweat, I was desperately pale – it looked like I was going in for a very aggressive prostate exam.
Jerry’s vice is he wants to feel truly alive. When was the last time you felt like that?
I was going to say sugar cereal makes me feel truly alive. But, actually, I would say having a baby – that’ll do it. Well, I didn’t have it, my wife did. It would have been very hard on my penis if I’d had it.
What’s the most surprising thing about fatherhood?
That you can go almost a full week without sleeping more than 10 consecutive minutes and still be in a good mood. I’ve said before it’s like cocaine, but without the dark alleys of shame.
You asked on Twitter last year if there was a way of making your tweets appear normal. Have you figured it out yet?
I’m not a prolific Twitterer, but I’m trying. I feel a bit like the new kid at school, with no idea how this thing works, and everyone else knows. Maybe it’s more like being the new kid at a foreign-exchange school – that’s more apt.
Finally, after 11 years in the making, Deadpool is getting a cinema release next year. Are you relieved?
I’m incredibly happy about it - we’ve got a director that understands that world, and writers with a slavish devotion to the canon of that character. That’s the most important aspect: it’s made in a way the most critical of fanboys could embrace. Well, that’s the hope.
The Voices is at cinemas nationwide from 20 March