As I said when I posted the 5 movie clips
the other day, there is no way for me to talk about the plot for ďThe NinesĒ and not give away some of its secrets. So rather than try, hereís a different approach.
I saw ďThe NinesĒ for the first time at Sundance and walked out of the theater not knowing exactly what I felt. I knew I was blown away by the film and the story, but I wasnít sure if it was due to the no sleep and the surprises the film unexpectedly threw at me. So I decided before attending the junket that I ought to see the movie again and take it for a second spin. Thankfully, the film was even better the second time as I was able to catch a lot of little things that I missed during the initial viewing.
But while I bought into the film hook, line and sinker, I did speak to some friends and they were less than impressed by John Augustís feature debut. And this doesnít surprise me. I really think John has made a film that will polarize the audience. Some of you are going to be like me and LOVE this movie. And some of you are not.
But thatís also whatís so great about this film, the ability to be so different to so many people. Itís not like this is a huge budget Hollywood spectacle and it needs to appeal to all four quadrants. ďThe NinesĒ is a small budget indie that needs to just find a small passionate group that get it. And Iím happy that Iím one of them.
Anyway, posted below is the transcript of the roundtable interview that I got to participate in with Ryan Reynolds Ė the star of the film. During our long discussion we cover everything you might want to know about - from this film to what is coming up, plus we even discuss Sundance and Comic-Con. If youíre a fan of Ryanís youíll love this interview.
And before getting to the interview, I think you do need to know that the film unfolds in three parts, featuring the same actors in different (and in some ways overlapping) incarnations. Hereís a summary of the partsÖ
Part 1 - Gary
(Ryan Reynolds) - a TV actor who finds himself under house arrest after one too many benders. He is tended to by an impossibly chipper publicist (Meliisa McCarthy) and a sexually tempting new mother next door (Hope Davis).
Part 2 - Gavin
(Reynolds), a show-runner who is the subject of a reality TV show about the thorny process of creating a network series (not dissimilar to John August himself). His show stars his (and August's) best friend, the actress Melissa McCarthy, much to the chagrin of the network's development executive (Davis). He also happens to own the house where Gary is imprisoned (John August's actual home).
Part 3 - Gabriel
(Reynolds) - a successful video game designer who runs into car trouble with his wife (McCarthy) and daughter (Fanning) in the woods and then into even greater trouble when he seeks help from an attractive hitchhiker (Davis).
As always, you can either read the transcript or download the audio as an MP3 here. But be warned, Iíve edited the transcript and taken out a MAJOR spoiler from the movie so if you listen to the audio you will still hear it. Youíve been warned.
ďThe NinesĒ opens today in limited release.
Question: Whatís the beard for?
Ryan Reynolds: Lethargy. Itís my salute to lethargy. Yeah, I have a couple months off so Iím enjoying it by not shaving.
Q: So how did you come to the project? Did you read the script or John made you an offer or how did that come together?
Ryan: Well, I have a team of interpretive dancers that acted it out for me. No, I read the script immediately as soon as it came to me. It was something that my agent I guess was very, very excited about so I read it right away and fell in love with it and tried to get a meeting with John as soon as I could and we had lunch and I think half of the casting process these days is a matter of finding somebody as excited about a project as you are so, I think John could see my enthusiasm and how into this thing I was and I think he felt maybe I had a similar idea as to what it was all about. We had similar notions on it. The next thing I knew I was shooting a movie.
He said the main reason you got cast was the physical resemblances.
Oh, between he and I? Yes, of course. Itís like looking in a mirror often. In fact, Iím John. Heís over there doing the other interview. Yeah, John became a really fast friend as well which is I think no coincidence to me getting cast. I mean, we really just hit it off right off the bat. Heís a good guy. Even when weíre doing these press days they can be a little stressful particularly when youíre as jet lagged as I am. I just got back from Europe last night in the middle of the night. You know I see his face and go oh good everythingís all right. Iíve got my buddy hereóa comrade. So, heís an excellent human being.
So your agent was excited about this project then? Thatís interesting for an agent because itís kind of risky, like a small film.
Yeah, definitely. I think for him itís a calculated risk. I mean itís a movie that deals with subject matter that I think is exciting to him and anyone else who would have read it. I mean, anytime you can find something that you can get behind that unorthodox and hasnít really been seen before but youíre still really able to stretch yourself and dive into wholeheartedly I think thatís kind of unusual these days. So many projects you read are cast up already or itís really is difficultÖgood problems to have, but itís difficult to find a script and a director in particular that can really pull something really fantastic off. I particularly believe that actors are as good as their director and itís their medium. Theatre might be our medium but this oneís theirs through and through.
When you do a project like this, do you in the back of your mind think that well, it may not be a box office success but it will be a good calling card role for future projects?
Yeah, I donít have a lot of like $150 million box office gross movies in my wake so itís not like itís the first thing I think about. I also donít think thatís anyway to survive in this industry. There are certainly guys out there that are those 20/20 guys, you know. $20 million 20% gross guys that like have a way of a science to this thing that theyíre in and I ever really think that way, I just love the material and it was something I felt that I could do something with. It was one of those really tough movies because itís 3 distinct characters and to find a way to do 3 distinct characters that doesnít feel really indulgent was the trick. In fact, it wasnít finding the differences in the characters that was hard it was finding the similarities that I was looking for. I felt like not to be so esoteric about it but this is a story about the puppet and the puppeteer being one in the same.
Your films are almost always different from each other and itís hard to categorize you. What attracts you to a project?
You know, itís always a tough question. I donít know. I mean, usually if itís something that I feel is challenging I feel like itís very difficult to choose movies way in advance because if I shoot oneósometimes I have the good fortune to have 2 movies lined up in a row and Iíll inevitably drop out of the 2nd one because once you finish the 1st one everythingís different. You have different ideas of where you want to go next or what you want to do and as soon as you realize youíre kind of pegged into this thing you have to do in a month from now, I sort of blister a little bit and so yeah, as far as choosing roles go itís just hard to find the stuff that presents something different or is a challenge. I like doing the mainstream, right down the pike broad comedies as much as I like doing the kind of unorthodox different stuff.
How did you approach playing John, or a character based on John?
With kid gloves. John, yeah, I think thatís more of a challenge for him than it is for me because Iím not portraying him in the sweetest light. I mean, youíve met him and heís an excellent human being but heís really showing his ambition and his hubris in that piece. Iíd have a really tough time watching that if that were me being played on the screen. I had a tough time doing it because usually I always find that the most rewarding things in life are somewhat kind of counter-intuitive and what was counter-intuitive about that to me was that I was presenting myself as John but presenting myself in a way that is not appealing and not like pre-packaged to make people think Iím this guy or like this really funny charismatic charming fellow or somebody that is likeable. It was this really kind of ugly side to this person and doing it felt disgusting then walking away you kind of look at the movie now and thatís my favorite part. I love that section. I mean thatís the warts and all section and thatís what itís all about. I loved it but it was definitely strange, you know, capturing Johnís little things that John does.
What about playing the actor? From the first part, how much of your own experience as an actor or your friendís experience in Hollywood having attention or having a break down that you drew on for that?
Anyone with access to outside information knows that you canít even get into any acting union without smoking crack, crashing your car, wearing an ankle bracelet. Yeah, it is a little strange playing an actor, but that character Garyís a bitóhe walks that line between kind of vacuous and emotional and thereís a lot of actors out there like that. Thereís a lot of actors I think that appear so much more together as the characters they portray as opposed to the actual people, so I know Iíve said this before Hollywoodís not a place where youíre rewarded for growing up. Youíre in fact rewarded for fucking up and you know that can cause a strain. That can cause a strange dynamic. This arrested development that you see in so many young celebrities, you know crashing cars and doing whatever the hell theyíre doing. But yeah, it was fun in a weird round-about way of poking fun at Hollywood, how like emotionally irresponsible so many people can be and in Garyís case physically as well. Yeah, it was fun definitely. I was into that one. All 3 of them I love. Theyíre all aspects of myself as well. You canít jump into a role unless youíre finding things that mirror your own condition.
Who would you want to play you if you saw yourself in a role? Is there a particular actor you would want to see play yourself in a bio pic or anything like that?
Whoopi Goldberg. Sheíd be doing me and really capturingÖno, I donít know what theyíd be toÖI hope Iím never in a place where people know so much about my life that I could be portrayed in a movie, Jesus. Thatís just my worst nightmare. I think we know too much about actors as it is and their personal lives and itís this information age where weíre stimulated constantly by the celebrity buzz effect or whatever it is, these web sites and blogs and different things.
Youíve done a good job of staying out of that. How did you manage that?
You know I think in some degree you can court that. If you court it, itís going to find you, but yeah, to some degree you canít completely control it. Thereís a very real possibility in this industry of going out and leading your life and then going home and being a voyeur of your own life. You can literally go watch yourselfówhere you went last night, what you did, what the things that people presuppose about you. Itís kind of crazy. That stuff is a real turnoff for me so I donít reallyÖI donít know. I donít have an answer to why I donít have all that going on, I donít really go out. Maybe thatís just sad.
So you can handle house arrest just fine.
Yeah, absolutely man. Yeah, the ankle bracelet in my case comes off every once in a while but I love it. Itís terry cloth and washable, soft.
Joe Carnahan said thereís going to be prequel to Smokiní Aces.
Yeah, there is. Yeah, yeah.
You were great in that.
Oh, thanks. I love to do an action movie. Thereís some out there but Ö
You got buff for your role in Blade Trinity which I liked, but you never followed up with more action. Was that something that youÖ?
Well, I mean I canít do the movies where Iím just intermittingly clenching my jaw muscles and shooting people. Thereís got to be somethingÖ if itís funny, then thatís kind of cool or if itís very real and it taps into something for me thatís great too but I donít think I want to go see those movies let alone be in them. Yeah, like I said itís just finding those.
You have a few projects coming up later this year. Can you talk about your roles in these things?
Yeah, I have a movie called Definitely,Maybe which has a great cast. Itís got Kevin Kline and Rachel Weisz and Abigail Breslin and Isla Fisher, Derek Luke. Itís just a big cast and that is about I kind of liken that to a love letter to broken families. Itís about a guy whoís explaining his impending divorce to his daughter and she asks how I met her mom. I say come on what do you think Iím going to tell you to story of how I met mom and Iím going to fall back in love with her. It doesnít work that way, Iím sorry. And she says I need to know. I say ok, Iíll tell you what. I had 3 great loves in my life. Iím going to tell you the story of these 3 great loves but Iím going the change all the names and you have to guess which one is your mom. So we go all the way back to í92, thatís when the story begins and it goes to 2008 and itís sort of really sweet, sort of comedy but more romance and several romantic who-done-it kind of thing. Then I have another movie called Fireflies in the Garden which I love. Itís a story about a family broken apart by the death of the matriarchóher mother whoís played by Julia Roberts. That kind of echoes some stuff with my own childhood and growing up. I mean, who doesnít have a fucked up family. So, I think thatís probably a little bit more broadly appealing than I like to believe but Iím really excited about that one as well. Then I have this little thing called The Nines. Yeah, called The Nines.
Continued on the next page --------->
You mentioned that you were taking a few months off right now which is the reason for the beard. So, do you have some things that youíre thinking about because thereís a lot of rumors about a strike happening next June. Iím sure thereís a lot of movies out there that areÖ
Itís probably not the best time to be taking off, huh?
Actually, it might be the best time to be taking off, then when something gears up in January you might be free.
Thatís true. Actually itís weird because I know the climate right now is that everyone is sort of grabbing up everything because thereís this impending strike coming. Who knows if thereís going to be a strike coming but I donít want to grab something to grab it. I mean, Iím not starving. Iíll be fine.
Is there a sense of panic out there because of that or do you think itís going to happen?
I honestly havenít opened my union mail since í91 so I donít know. I honestly donít know. Itís not even my union, itís the writers unions and Iím the least qualified human being on the planet Earth to even discuss that. I just know that itís supposedly going to happen or maybe itís going to happen. I donít know.
I guess what I was trying to get at was are you purposely not working or are you just waiting for the right script to take the next role?
Oh, I always just waiting for the right script. Iím never not working intentionally. Itís just a matter of finding the right thing. Itís difficult. I donít want to work just to work. Lots of people can do that. Iíve done that before and deeply regretted it.
You donít want to mention the film do you?
I donít want to mention the film.
Do you have anything that youíre planning on doing during your time between movies?
Yeah, Iíve just been traveling. I was just in Africa which was really cool and saw Maloui which is an interesting place. Iím always writing and tooling around that way.
How was Europe?
Europe was incredibly European. I was all over. I was having a littleÖI used to backpack when I was younger and loved it.
Would you do that again?
Backback? I think I can actually safely say I canít do the hostel thing anymore. Iím a little too spoiled but I could definitely backpack it around Europe.
I was going to say, can you go through Europe and be anonymous or do you get noticed?
I get noticed. It depends on where I am. Like Spain, no problem, I can wander all around there and no one gives a shit. But there are other places, yeah. The Germanís. That Van Wilder is a party animal.
You mentioned youíre writing. What type of material are you writing?
Iíve always written stuff. Itís never like script format. I did some stuff for the Post for awhile and just little shit-agrams.
So youíre a member of the blogosphere?
I guess so. What qualifies it as a blog? I donít what is the criteria?
No one else reads it.
I think thatís exactly it, right. If no one is reading it then itís a blog. Wow, oh thatís great. So actually Iím inner monologueing thatís what Iím really doing. Yeah, Iíve always just kind of written little things. Iíve been a part of writers circle for a long time so Iím on that but thatís not really for public consumption.
You donít care about the writerís strike thatís coming up?
Well, no. Itís not how my bread and butter is issued. But I imagine it is for them so John (August) would probably be a much better person to talk to about that. I believe he opens his mail.
Was there anything in The Nines that you were nervous about doing or apprehencious about doing before you did it?
No, the biggest thing for me was being really careful about Part 2. Just John and when I started I baby stepped it and checked it out and heís ok if Iím going this far with it and he was not just ok, he was very happy with it. It was really liberating but it was the one Iíd given the least amount of thought to as well because I was so overwhelmed. It was the last one we were shooting, the last piece and it was like one of those nightmares that I just kept putting in the back of my mind like I have no idea how Iím going to do this. Thereís very little script for it. Itís all kind of improvised reality television kind of feel so it really speaksÖyou try different processes every time I do a movie. The research is insane. Itís so overkill. I have no life beforehand and I donít think you see it on the screen as much as I would like to believe. Like Iíd feel like sometimes you can just shoot from the hip and itís great. Thereís something to be said about just surrendering to something instead of just trying to shape it into something. I really learned a lot doing that one. I just really just dove in and I let go and I surrendered and just let myself be it as opposed to trying to figure it out, have some sort of logical equation as to how to play John, you know, just listen to him and do it.
Have you done that level of improv on film before?
In comedies, yeah, but itís usually just designed to offend as much as possible. Itís unusual to say oh, you can use this power for good. This is neat. No, Iíd never done it like that before. That was just all out.
You and Melissa had great chemistry on the screen.
Yeah, I love her.
More so than you and I forget the other womanís name?
Oh, Hope Davis. Sheís no small fry either though, Hope Davis.
How did you two develop such a good chemistry?
I just love Melissa you know what I mean? I think chemistry is something you can never force and if you try to you see it but if you have it itís great. Just from the moment I met Melissa, sheís just like a Öyou guys have already met her Iím sureÖsheís hilarious. The woman is justÖ
How do you describe this film to your friends who havenít seen it?
God, I donít. I donít. I say itís a charming story about a boy and his dog. I donít know what to tell them. Itís really a difficult movie to log line. Most people want to kind of grab onto like what they think is a hook which is oh, you play 3 different people in one movie and itís not really a hook itís actually part of the story. Itís not done in this indulgent vain kind of way. So most people kind of grab onto that. My parentsóoh, thatís the one where you play 3 different people. Oh, I canít wait to see that. My motherís Marge Simpson. Itís a difficult thing to explain, I usually say itís 3 separate stories that interlock in mysterious ways.
Well, itís partly a musical when Hope starts singing.
It is. It has a little bit of that as well. It was definitely strange. I canít say that I fully understood what was happening in that moment, but when you see it you do but at least I do but yeah, it was definitely odd though. It was a great song, though.
Yeah, and I was expecting more like musical numbers and it was like thatís it?
I donít think it would so well in part 3óthe musical number in the woods there with Hope.
What was your experience like at Sundance? You went didnít you?
Yeah, I did--the Hollywood ski trip. To be honest I have very little patience for all that stuff, itís like you just want to get in and out of there as fast as possible. Iím surprised Girls Gone Wild isnít showing there. Itís pretty crazy. I mean itís like oh, why donít you come in and go to the Prada tent or the Adidas tent and youíre like this is like the free shoes for the rich program. I donít understand. Why are all these people lining up and you made $20 million last year and youíre like oh, this is crazy? So Sundance, I went 10 years ago for the 1st movie I ever did in L.A. and it was pretty commercial then and thereís nothing wrong with things being commercial but itís just called the Sundance you know the independent film festivalóitís like one of the biggest ones and itís always kind of strange. But itís just weird seeing all these people that youíre used to seeing driving around in their Bentleyís and Porcheís suddenly everyoneís in parkas and windbreakers. Itís just bizarre.
Do you not like it because it is too commercial or because thereís too many people?
No I donít like it because itís sensory overload. Thereís no peace to it. Itís absolutely crazy. You land and you do 500 interviews, you go to some completely crazy party and you go screen the film and itís like the 5th thing on the listóthe film that youíre promoting.
You might want to stay away from Comic-Con.
Yeah. Iíve been to Comic-Con but Iím charmed by Comic-ConóI donít know why. I find it really kind of charming.
But thereís no Prada tents.
Yeah. Thereís no Prada tents. Thereís none of that stuff. These are just people that are really like into this and you wander around and you see all these guys in their Stormtrooper outfits and you just like wonder what that is like to wear. What does that smell like? My God. Itís just awesome. I could wander around and people watch all day. Itís great.
Do you pick up comics when youíre there or do you just kind of watch it?
I donít actually go. Iíve been just for a movie before but Iíve never gone as a participant or anything like that but when I did go I went to a couple of different ones and they were pretty cool. It was like wandering around like from pavilion to pavilion and stuff. I read comics every once in a while but not religiously.
Continued on the next page --------->
What do you do when youíre locked in your house? Do you play games or any of that stuff?
No, I donít know if Iím actually locked in my house but I live in Vancouver as well so Iím there a lot. My family is there and Iím usually doing a circle between New York, L.A. and Vancouver.
Do you still ever get approached by fans based on your role as Billy on 15?
My God, you donít say anything the whole time and this is like the one thing you know?
No, I donít. There were no fans of that, come on. Really super baked college kids got that on the air for 3 years. No, that was the first job I ever did. No, I donít think anyone ever recognizes me other than you for that.
Well, youíve got a whole litany of fans out there that are saying ask about 15.
Oh my God, wow. Oh boy, I should watch that sometime. I donít think Iíve ever even seen those shows.
Not even when you were younger?
I lived in Canada and it was only shown in the States. They were so cheap they didnít ever send us like video cassettes of it. I mean we were literally like paid in laughter. I still havenít really cashed in on it. Your fee for this project will be humiliation.
What would you say to some other kid in Canada or in some small town in the U.S. who looks at you and says he went from this little teeny show to this big career?
I wouldnít say Iím not different from a lot of people, I mean, you know a lot of guys started in like Jordache commercials and stuff. People break into it in many, many different ways. Most people donít walk in and their first film is Schindlerís List. Iíd just say to do it. Most people that ask what is the best way to break into the industry, I just say like if you love it then do it. Do it in your town, do it in a bigger city, go to another place. Thatís how you kind of find it and it finds you.
Was there one thing you told them not to do?
Crack. Itís important. It doesnít actually get you into the union like I tell people. But yeah, no I think the important thing to not do is to lose faith in yourself and your abilities if itís something that you really love and your chances are youíre going to be good at it.
I noticed the 9 on your tattoo. Is that coincidental?
No. Thatís the 9:00 gun. Itís a cannon in my hometown that goes off every night at 9:00.
Is that a real tattoo or is that just for show?
Itís Wal-Mart. This will just rub right off.
Is that a reminder to stay true to your roots?
I donít know what it is. Itís really a reminder to not get tattoos when youíre young, I think thatís pretty much it. Usually itís covered up.
On a movie doesnít it cost money to cover that up.
No, not quite, no. Not quite. Probably in time it mightótime is money itís probably somewhere around there but tattoos are like the Wal-Mart of rebellion these days. I donít know if thereís much point to it.
Are you the type of person who can enjoy watching yourself on-screen when youíre at like a premiere or do you just bail out the minute it starts?
I fuckiní hate it. Itís so hard to watch myself. If I can get away from it long enough, Iím ok. I just watched The Nines again when I was away and I hadnít seen it in a long time and it was actually great to watch it because I watched it with a few other people and I kind of saw it how they saw it. It was great. I really fell in love with it. I was like oh, great. If I can get away from myself enough, if Iím far enough away from it that I forget what the options were in that particular sceneówasnít it done angrily at one point or wasnít thereÖI sort of do this Rubix cube process in my mind and itís really frustrating. If I can get away from it and forget it and then see it again, I can relate to it. Itís an honest test, sometimes Iíve seenÖI have other movies that Iíve been away from a long time and not liked and thatís usually the biggest indicator of whether I like it or not. Itís just enough time between it.
How long of a shoot was it?
I think it was like 3 weeks. It was 3 weeks.
Wow, thatís like a 30 minute piece a week.
Yeah, 3 weeks and it was in L.A. and New York. I mean it was pretty incredible what you can do for no money and just nothing but dedication.
You said something about filming the 2nd sequence was like 1 camera, 1 sound guy almost no one there.
We had a crew of 5.
So did you have a lot of people watching or you just blended right in?
I kind of blended in. We occasionally had a little glitch but for the most part everything we did was so fast. We hit Ďem so fast. The extras were just people on the street so by the time they could figure out who I was or what we were doing it was already over. It was like reality television when we were shooting it. One take and weíre moving on.
There was even one shot when you guys were on the street where you might have moved where the camera wasnít expecting and got behind someone? It seemedÖ
Yeah, that was at the end I think, right? Towards the end of part 2 I think Iím just trying to get away from the camera. Yeah, Iím just trying to get away from the camera. My show is over, their show should be over too and now this camera is still following me around and I was just trying to move out of its way and get past it and obviously the guy kept staying with me.
Was that like a planned shot or was it a lot of improv?
Oh, it was all improv. It was just you know, weíre in a little alcove where no one can see us and weíre going to walk down that way and thatís kind of the plan.
Have you explored television opportunities or would you be interested in going on TV?
No, TVís great but I just feel like the mediums I would have most fun in be it like a live audience type stuff would probably be the thing Iíd have most fun in. I think that medium is a little bit corpse-like at the moment, so probably not. If I donít have to I wouldnít. Yeah, why would you want to play the same character for 6 years unless it kept evolving? Who knows? Never say never.
Thereís a lot of really good quality stuff going on with television these days.
Yeah, I know. I mean, So You Think You Can Dance? I mean itís a real reality driven industry.
What about an HBO show that was a 6 or a 12 episode sort of thing?
Oh, that stuff I love. Oh yeah for sure. I mean, HBO does great television and so does some of the other outlets like Showtime and all these other guys like FX and stuff. Iíve seen some shows on that station that are great. I donít know. I donít have a wife and kids and I donít need to be anchored anywhere so I can see why it might be appealing though somewhere down the road.