A bodyguard and an assassin are thrown together
BEFORE he returns as foul-mouthed hero Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds is teaming up with Samuel L Jackson in the action film The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, the world’s top bodyguard who must protect a hit man about to testify at a trial at the International Court of Justice.
In this Q&A he talks about the trials of movie making and finally working with Samuel L Jackson.
Q: Can you tell us about your character Michael Bryce?
A: Michael Bryce is a sort of top-tier executive protection agent. He is a guy that would be basically assigned to foreign dignitaries, and assigned to people who are at the top of the criminal underground. So he’s a guy who kind of suffers from a lot of hubris and he has this idealised image and romanticised image of himself in his mind, that he is a triple-A rated sort of best of the best of the best kind of guy, which becomes startlingly untrue to him as we move forward through the film. But Michael Bryce, when we first meet him, he is at the top of his game and shortly after that, he is at the bottom of his game.
Q: The Hitman’s Bodyguard was on the prestigious blacklist (the annual list of popular unproduced scripts) for a bit. Did you know about it then?
A: Yeah, I read it years ago when it was at Paramount and then it kicked around for awhile and came back to me again. It’s always weird when you read something from one point in your life and then you read it again many years later and I said yeah, let’s do the movie! And then I read the script and it was like, oh my gosh, this is really serious. The original draft was great, (screenwriter) Tom Connor wrote it, but just before we were set to start shooting, we jumped in there and gave it this really light pass, particularly with Sam’s voice, giving it a lot more boisterous attitude and giving Bryce a bit more as the disgruntled sort of straight man to Kinkaid’s (Samuel L Jackson) kind of wild, anti-hero.
Q: To be able to go in and workshop this film to the version we see on the screen, is that something that you learned from working on Deadpool?
A: Everything that I learned from Deadpool I threw out or took
to mean it as a hard lesson learned because I worked on Deadpool for nearly 11 years and didn’t get it made, so I thought it must be me. I was in the worst relationship I was ever in, on again, off again (laughs). But in retrospect I look back and I go yeah, I started as an improv comedian, and that was 24 years ago. But you always need to do that and workshop things in certain specific ways and it just depends on the film. And sometimes you will work with a filmmaker who is very attached to the material as written and you have to respect that when you sign on. This was not that situation. We had Patrick Hughes, who also jumped in late in the game as well and he replaced the previous director. But he was up for anything, he just wanted to see a big, fun action movie with some spectacle and some laughs and that is what we all kind of huddled up to give him.
Q: Did you and Sam have to spend a little time to generate the chemistry on screen?
A: You are hard pressed to not have met Sam Jackson at some point in your Hollywood sojourn, just because he is ubiquitous, the guy is everywhere. He’s probably one of the hardest-working men in show business, I would put him up there with The Rock and Kevin Hart, these guys that never put it down, they just go, go, go, and I don’t know where he finds the energy. Sam and I had only worked on an animated film before so we knew each other from doing the press rounds on that. But we had never shot a film together. So this is our first time, and there was a natural chemistry there that was inherent right from the get-go.
◗ Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds in a scene from The Hitman’s Bodyguard. SLIDING DOOR: Ryan Reynolds had decided to quit acting when he ran into fellow Canadian Chris William Martin. They packed up and headed to LA.