In Definitely, Maybe, Ryan Reynolds plays the father of a little girl (Abigail Breslin) who wants to know how he and her mother ended up together. To keep his daughter (and the audience) guessing, he tells the story in such a way that she doesn’t know exactly who her mother is in the story and has to figure it out, like a mystery. We see the story in flashback as Reynolds character arrives in New York and has a series of complex relationships with three different women, including a long-distance girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks), a platonic soul-mate (Isla Fisher), and a passionate love-affair (Rachel Weisz). The film offers audiences some unique twists and turns, and will keep the audience guessing about who his daughter’s mother is, and who he might wind up with in the end.
Reynolds recently sat down to chat with us exclusively about the movie, his career, and several upcoming projects.
ComingSoon.net: So we’re here in New York where the movie takes place. How much of it was actually shot here?
Ryan Reynolds: Oh, every shred of it, I think. There was some B-unit in Washington DC, but I wasn’t even there for that.
CS: This is definitely a movie New York. It’s a very antiseptic, romanticized view of the city. The other day I was walking on 33rd street and saw a man mumbling to himself and pulling a mini-fridge along the sidewalk by the power cord. We usually don’t see that side of Manhattan in movies, do we?
Reynolds: No, I guess not, but we’re seeing it through the eyes of a guy that’s absolutely romanced by the city. It’s also a recollection. That’s the heart’s memory’s job, it eliminates the bad and magnifies the good. It’s about a guy recalling New York City the first time he sees it, the heart’s memory creates that artifice. There’s no other way he sees it, the salad days of his youth. He’s not gonna tell his daughter, “Yeah, so I saw this guy injecting heroin into a totally infected wound down in Battery Park.”
CS: (laughs) There’s definitely a balance you have to keep in a light romantic comedy. What are some other pitfalls of the genre, things that would throw a romantic comedy out of whack?
Reynolds: I dunno, I don’t feel this movie contains the conventions that typical romantic comedies do. It’s more like a romantic whodunit. You don’t look at the poster and go, “Oh, he ends up with her.” You just don’t. That’s the reason for me to do it. I don’t know what the pitfalls are of a romantic comedy a big musical montage about a girl trying 35 different dresses on, I dunno.
CS: I think there’s a movie coming out just like that.
Reynolds: Maybe, yeah. (laughs)
CS: Speaking of the poster, “Definitely, Maybe” is being advertised not on the basis of specific filmmakers but the production company itself, Working Title. It says “From the Makers of Notting Hill and Love Actually”. Tim Bevin and Eric Fellner have had gangbusters success with this genre, what do you think their secret is?
Reynolds: The biggest weapon they have in their weapons boutique is they know what they want. That’s invaluable, particularly in moviemaking. When you find somebody that’s decisive they’re immediately a leader. These guys have always known what they wanted and that’s what makes them so great at what they do. They know how to pick projects from their genesis, from merely a pitch level, and nurture them to the stage of actually being shot and marketed.
CS: There isn’t a gauntlet of committees the project has to run through.
Reynolds: No, they’re not a huge studio. It’s Tim, Eric, and Liza Chasin over there and they know how to do this, it’s their specialty, this is something they’ve been very successful doing and because of that you really have a belief in them.
CS: Who are some of your comedic influences?
Reynolds: At a young age I was given a box set called “Just For Laughs” and I used to listen to it over and over and over again. It was all old Abbot and Costello routines and the Jack Benny stuff, the radio plays. “The World’s Cheapest Man.”
CS: “Your money or your life.”
Reynolds: Yeah! “Your money or your life.” “I’m thinking it over ” It’s those things that I remember for the first time, mimicking those guys and making my mom laugh, seeing there was a power to that, and using that and snowballing or parlaying that into high school where I was able to deflect a lot of high school is like this emotionally treacherous place that no one in their right mind should have to go to, but it served me very well. I was able to get by using that weapon in my arsenal. Those guys definitely, and all the SNL stuff in the ’80s. My brother used to tape them and I would watch them ’cause I couldn’t stay up that late. All those guys, the Bill Murrays too.
CS: You had some experience as a child actor, right?
Reynolds: Little bit, yeah. I started at 13.
CS: Was it “The John Larroquette Show”?
Reynolds: No that was later, I was about 20 when I did that. I think I was the kiss of death on that show, I did one episode and they cancelled it. I worked for Nickelodeon, I did this really terrible children’s soap opera that stayed on the air because of stoned college kids. It was called “Fifteen.”
CS: So what did you think of being in the reverse situation with Abigail Breslin on this movie?
Reynolds: It’s a tough gig with these kids in this industry. They come in wholesome and whole and leave broken. You look at a girl like Abigail and her mom and her family and right off the bat you see the healthy dynamic and that’s pretty unusual. I don’t feel like she was being exploited for anything. She has a genuine love for what she does. She’d be doing it anyway if she wasn’t in films. She’d be in plays at school or theater sports after school or whatever. She’s just a genuine go-getter and a delightful kid. Hollywood is definitely made up of broken glass and bubblegum, it’s a scary place, but she seems to be handling it pretty well. I don’t know many 11-year-old Oscar nominees who are complete sh*ts, so she’s pretty great.
CS: You were under consideration for “The Flash,” correct?
Reynolds: Uh huh.
CS: Are there any other superheroes you’d be interested in playing?
Reynolds: Basically for me there are two superheroes that I could play. One would be Deadpool, the other would be The Flash. There are no imminent plans to do either just now.
CS: Why Deadpool?
Reynolds: He’s just the “merc with a mouth”. For me I guess it’s a no-brainer.
CS: The industry is starting to become very centered around comic properties and who gets these roles. At the press conference this afternoon someone even asked Abigail if she wanted to play a superhero!
Reynolds: (laughs) Yeah, I’m sure they did.
CS: There are some other movies you’ve done recently. There’s Marcos Siega’s “Chaos Theory”. Is that held up?
Reynolds: No. That movie had a really long post but I wouldn’t say it’s held up. It just doesn’t have a release date yet, hopefully soon.
CS: And you’re doing “Adventureland”.
Reynolds: Just finished.
CS: Is that a supporting role?
Reynolds: Yeah, I guess it’s a supporting role. The cast is an ensemble, it’s in the whole Apatow wheelhouse, and it’s Greg Mottola on his own, he wrote it and he’s directing it.
CS: There was a whole brouhaha where a lot of people in the press were upset that Judd Apatow got much of the credit for “Superbad” even though Mottola was the director.
Reynolds: He certainly gets a lot of the accolades, and I think he deserves some of them to a certain degree. The majority of the filmgoing population feels that Apatow directed “Superbad,” and that can be difficult, but if you talk to Greg he’s the first to tell you he’s happy that’s how it went down. This is a very key marketing tool for those guys.
CS: But this is a more personal film for Greg, right?
Reynolds: This will be him and only him. Judd Apatow has nothing to do with it.
CS: Exactly. Can you tell us about “Adventureland”?
Reynolds: Sure. It’s set in 1986, it’s actually about Greg Mottola’s experience working at Adventureland which is a theme park in Long Island for the summer and what that was like for him. I play the guy that runs the maintenance of the park, he’s this legendary character who’s been there too long. He’s stuck ’cause his girlfriend had a baby, and he had to get married pretty young and he’s trapped in this hole.
Definitely, Maybe will be released on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.