Ryan Reynolds Interview For Daniel Espinosa’s Gritty Thriller ‘Safe House’
Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds co-star in the action-thriller ‘Safe House.’ Washington plays the CIA’s most dangerous traitor, who stuns the intelligence community when he surfaces in South Africa. When the safe house to which he’s remanded is attacked by brutal mercenaries, a rookie (Reynolds) is forced to help him escape. As the masterful manipulator toys with his reluctant protégé, the young operative finds his morality tested and idealism shaken. Now, they must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead. Directed by Daniel Espinosa, ’Safe House’ co-stars Nora Arnezeder, Vera Farmiga, Ruben Blades, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Cunningham, Tim McGraw, Robert Patrick, and Sam Shepard. The film is due to hit cinemas February 10th in the US, and Febuary 24th in the UK.
What was it that attracted you to this script? Also, your character is very much an ideologue to begin with, that slowly breaks down over the course of the film….
Ryan Reynolds: I wanted the chance to work with who I think is the greatest actor working in Hollywood today, Denzel, and that was a huge impetus, but I just love the idea of this guy slowly being disillusioned by everything he believes in. It’s the slow disintegration of God and Country for him, and that’s what means everything to this guy. Watching that be peeled away slowly, measure by measure by Tobin Frost, just kind of feeling that. These days it’s about what we don’t know that’s more terrifying, and I liked investigating that kind of world.
I feel like that line can blur between jingoism and idealism, a little bit. I think we start out, my character, as a God and country guy, he’s a patriot, he has that kind of mentality. But then layers of that are slowly pealed away, he has to deal with a lot of disillusionment. He sees that this job he signed up for is incredibly murderous and corrupt in a lot of ways. And then he’s seeing this sort of weird perverting mirror image of himself in this guy who’s much older and who’s been doing it a lot longer. I know for a fact, spending time with these guys that have been in the CIA for 30 or so years, that when you talk to them they started out with a real, ultra patriotic, idealism that really gets replaced by a kind of cynicism later. But part of that is because they’ve spent their entire life as a lie. They have to lie to their wife and children, for 20 or 30 years….I spoke to one guy who just revealed to his wife and children what he does for a living after 25 years, 25 years! That is amazing, I just asked, “What was the reaction like?” I was fascinated, and he replied, “Not good,” (laughs). It’s tough, because when you go to bed….all those details, it makes her wonder, “What was true? What was wasn’t?”
Denzel Washington is so good at playing charming yet at the same time fierce – which is ideal in playing a sociopath. How was it working with him?
Ryan Reynolds: It was fascinating. He’s just a really interesting guy to work with, so good at what he does. It was wild to see someone who’s been doing this so well for so long. He’s just a real classy and disciplined actor, and I think that’s what makes him….the success is irrelevant to him, what makes him such a good actor is that he really cares about what he does and he’s passionate. As a younger actor I look at that and it really hits me, that’s amazing, you can go this long in this industry and be that prolific, be that passionate.
How was it preparing for the physical fights? In this film there‘s something very primal about it, in particular the final fight sequence you’re involved in.
Ryan Reynolds: It was a lot of choreography, you don’t have to choreograph pretty fights as much. It’s the ugly, messy, knife fights in a phone booth that you really need to work on. Because they’re the ones people can get hurt. It was a couple months of choreography, especially that last fight sequence I’m in – that was shot over two days. We spanned every room in the house with that fight. We’re falling out of windows….it felt very old fashioned in a way. There was no real trickery. By the end of it we were covered in scrapes cuts and bruises. We were happy when it was over, definitely (laughs). There’s nothing polished about it. When we are in these intense fight sequences, you’re seeing veins popping out of peoples necks, it’s ugly and nasty. It’s kill or be killed? There is definitely something raw, primal, and deeply screwed up about it. I think it’s much more interesting to watch a guy who’s forced to fight when he doesn’t want to, than it is to watch someone who’s very well versed in those sort of activities.
I think this is one of those film that you’ll really have an opportunity to see a variety of different things. I mean, I think it appeals to people who are pure adrenaline/action junkies, then at the same time it’s a character piece. As actors, I don’t think there’s many of us who are particularly attracted to shooting a movie that is purely an action film because they’re hard (laughs), you get your ass kicked. I remember 10 years ago, falling on cement was hilarious, now? It hurts (laughs). When you get those two components right, when you have an action film that is also deeply rooted in character, you get something really rewarding from it, from both sides.
How were the driving sequences?
Ryan Reynolds: What’s odd about the sequences driving the car is that when I’m driving the car it’s actually much less terrifying for me than when we have a pilot guy that’s on top of the car for some of those scenes and he’d have that car on two wheels and Daniel, our director, who’s sitting in the wheel well beside me giggling like a little schoolgirl while the car goes up on two wheels and just yelling, “Faster! Faster!” He can’t see anything and I find out later that Daniel’s never driven a car before in his life. Being in that position was crazy because we would head headlong for a brick wall and I would hit the break and the guy up top would hit the gas, so that was a very strange feeling. I’ve never been in a situation like that. I’ve never seen a rig like that for a car. And this is a professional driver up top and he just knows the weight of the car. At least that’s what you’d like to believe when he’s doing it (laughs).
What was it like working with Daniel Espinosa? His sort of kinetic approach to film-making.
Ryan Reynolds: If you spend time with Daniel you kinda see where he’s coming from. He’s unlike anyone I’ve ever worked with or met before. He’s like this incredibly wise, intellectual, intuitive, thug….which is sort of a weird combination for a person (laughs). It gives him this incredible street sense and feeling that he’s a guy who can very easily be in a bar fight, but at the same time you could name any book and there’s a good chance that he’s read it before you. He’s just a truly incredibly gifted filmmaker and so insightful, he’s seen every film that you can imagine and he’s learned from the best, and that’s applied everyday to what he does. It really is a craft for him. Daniel’s a guy you want to buy stock in.
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