With Green Lantern hitting theaters this week, Ryan Reynolds is the latest actor taking on a superhero for the big screen. As the gifted and cocky test pilot Hal Jordan, Reynolds is charming, witty and likeable, taking audiences on an adventure, as the first human chosen for the Green Lantern Corps. Warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him the ability to create anything his mind can imagine. Unfortunately for Hal, he doesn’t get much time to enjoy his recruitment before he learns that a terrible enemy called Parallax is threatening to destroy the balance of power in the Universe. With the fate of Earth in his hands, and encouragement from fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), Hal must quickly master his new powers and find the courage to save all of mankind.
During a press conference at the film’s press day, co-stars Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong (who plays Sinestro) and Peter Sarsgaard (who plays Hector Hammond) talked about bringing this story to life, having a strong leading lady, getting to portray the journey of Sinestro, the prosthetics required to create the look for Hector Hammond, and how they were all honored to be a part of such a special project. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: Ryan, as you delved into the really expansive mythology that the comic books have built for Green Lantern, what were the discoveries you made that helped you in developing the character? How did you want to make this superhero different from the batch of superheroes currently on the big screen?
RYAN REYNOLDS: A lot of the current iterations of superheroes are a little bit darker and a little bit more serious in tone. The thing I distilled from diving into that mythology and that universe is that there’s a tone that’s a little bit different. It’s a bit of a throwback, in that sense. There’s a lot of fun with the character. He’s not a character that’s overly funny, but he’s witty. I always say he’s that guy who can throw a punch, tell a joke, and kiss a girl. There’s something really iconic and fun about that guy because anything’s possible with him. For me, there wasn’t any particular narrative or storyline because we were telling an origin story in this film. It was mostly just tone, finding out who Hal Jordan was, and also distilling what it is that the fanboys love about this character and making sure that that could be found up on screen. If they love it, there’s a good chance that a broader audience, who’s being introduced to this character for the first time, is also going to love it.
Did you ever have any doubt about playing this particular superhero?
REYNOLDS: Of course, I have trepidation playing any role. You don’t get into a plane unless you have a great pilot. Martin Campbell was attached, and the opportunity to work with him was huge for me, but also you look at who Martin hires as well. There were all of these incredible talents that were involved, so it was impossible to not want to play this guy. Also, I just wanted to learn. I wanted to see what it was like to do a film like this. I had never, ever done anything that involved this much post-production, so I was excited to see how that would all pan out.
Blake, what was the appeal of portraying a character in a superhero movie? What are your thoughts on tackling a strong female character, like Carol Ferris?
BLAKE LIVELY: I think Carol is very unique, in this genre. She’s an incredibly powerful woman, and she’s also a fighter pilot, along with running her father’s aviation company. It’s rare to see such strong women existing as equals amongst men in film, especially in this genre. And, I love that, if this franchise continues, she does become a villain. That was also a very, very appealing element to this.
You play a more realistic leading lady, who is honest and straightforward. Was that you bringing your own energy to it, or was the character written that way?
LIVELY: It was definitely written that way. That was what was so appealing about Carol. In a lot of ways, this film was much more straightforward and honest. In the scene where Carol first sees Hal as the Green Lantern, in every single superhero film, you wonder, “How on Earth do they not see that this is the person they’ve known their whole life and that they’ve been intimate with? You don’t recognize him because he has a four-inch mask on his face?” This movie tackled those things, and it’s a really refreshing take, on such a big film full of fantasy, to have those moments where you actually acknowledge what every other comic film doesn’t. That bled through to each of our characters. Hal is a superhero, but he’s also very, very human and he’s flawed, and he doesn’t know if he wants to be a superhero. That’s incredibly unique, and that’s why this story is so special. You can really connect with the people, at the heart of this story.
It’s always interesting to see villains before they’re villains. Mark, knowing where Sinestro goes, what kind of discussions and thought process did you have, when it came to how the character was going to be portrayed, in this particular story?
MARK STRONG: If you know the comics, you know the direction that Sinestro goes in. It’s great to play him before he goes there. Usually villains are just villains in these things. They’re very straightforward. So, it’s nice to have him as a hero, in this one. I couldn’t really imbue him with anything to do with where he goes after this movie, but I tried to give him characteristics that would lend themselves to being believable, should he decide to go to the dark, or yellow side. I couldn’t think about where the stories go. The source material is so vast. There’s plenty to draw from, but I had to really just stick to the script, as it was. If we do go somewhere else with it, the hope is that he’s a believable character who would go that way.
Ryan, the last movie people saw you in was Buried, where you were in a box the whole time. How did you go from playing that role, to playing this over-the-top superhero? What is the difference between doing a small, independent movie and this big-budget Hollywood film?
REYNOLDS: The two movies are more similar than not, actually, in the sense that Buried involved a lot of imagination. The people that I was talking to on the phone, the entire time, were not on the phone with me. Going from a small, wooden box to a large, blue box for Green Lantern didn’t feel too dissimilar either. I’d never worked on a movie that required this much imagination. It felt like I was a kid again. Everything you’re seeing in this world, you have to imagine. Granted, we do have amazing people that are working behind the scenes, not the least of which is our production designer, Grant Major, who created a lot of the worlds for The Lord of the Rings. He would come down with visual references, so I had an idea what I was looking at, but I would have to imagine what that was, and then express it through my eyes for the audience. That was a big challenge. And, I was definitely happy to be able to get up and walk around, even if I had to wear a crash test dummy suit, for the most part.
Having played Deadpool and now Green Lantern, what’s your background with comics? How many of the DC and Marvel characters do you want to play?
REYNOLDS: By 2014, I’m going to do Wonder Woman, but after that, I think I’m gonna hang up the lasso and the short, short shorts. Growing up, I read a bit of X-Men stuff, and I loved Deadpool. My brother introduced me to Deadpool. Beyond that, I didn’t know that much about comics. Those are the ones I stuck to. Deadpool is a character that I love and I got a great opportunity to play him, in more of an ancillary sense, in a film, which was great, because it allowed me to jump in and play him, but then not be committed to too much beyond that. I do have that film that’s in development, and we’ll see what happens with that, but for the most part, Green Lantern is the first real iconic superhero role that I’ve ever had the great opportunity to play, and I’m pretty damn grateful for that.
What did you guys do to pass the time, while you were shooting in Louisiana?
REYNOLDS: New Orleans is one of the most exciting, incredible communities in the world. There’s such a rich culture and history, and there are innumerable things to do. It was actually the exact worst place you want to bring a bunch of ne’er-do-well actors to shoot a big-budget movie. Thankfully, everybody reeled it in and kept it contained. But, any time you step outside of your house in New Orleans, you’re going to see something incredible. You’re going to hear some of the best jazz music, eat some of the best food, and see some of the best entertainment in the world. That’s a city that keeps getting knocked down, but they just keep getting back up. There’s a real spirit there that amazes me, to this day.
LIVELY: I agree. You could spend your life trying to uncover all the treasures in New Orleans and not even scratch the surface. It’s such an amazing place. We were working a lot, but I still managed to bake an unbelievable amount of treats, and eat my way through New Orleans.
Mark and Peter, what was it like to have to put on the prosthetics for your characters?
STRONG: Well, Peter had a much heavier burden than me. Suffice it to say, they take a long time to put on, but they’re incredibly effective.
PETER SARSGAARD: We shared the same glue. When I finished with the film, Mark was starting, and my passing comment to him was, “You’re going to find that you have this thing about the glue.” You dream about the glue. You want the glue again. It’s the smell. I still think about it sometimes. And, it was impossible to get off. A couple of days later, you’d find a long strand of glue on your face. It was a challenge, but for me, as an actor, there were these different stages, and none of them looked like me. Even the beginning doesn’t look like me. It was a gift. I could tell where I was, in the movie. A lot of times, you’re in a movie and you’re like, “Right, we’re in the part where what happens?” But, I had clear stages that told me where I was in the movie, which is nice.
Ryan, how did you use your will to overcome your fear of flying, in terms of doing the wire work?
REYNOLDS: On the third day, they basically fired me 200 feet in the air, at 60 feet per second, and that got me over it right quick. Without an adult diaper or anything, I just did it the regular way. That helped. After awhile, you’re playing on these wires and they’re so articulate. The technology for that is amazing now. You’re moving left and right, and up and down, and all that stuff, and I was actually getting a little cocky with it, by the end. I was wondering if we could actually find some way to transport me back to my hotel, each day, on the wires. I loved it, after awhile. The best way to get over it is just to do it. The fear of flying in a plane is a whole separate issue. I’m being told to get on a commercial airliner and trust a drunk pilot, and I don’t like that. I can’t see what’s in front of me, and there’s maybe some control issues there, mixed with a few daddy issues.
Mark, how did you prepare for this role?
STRONG: I couldn’t do any research on aliens. I don’t know any aliens, so I didn’t know what kind of a guy he was. All I could do was use human characteristics, and it was very obvious to me that he’s a military commander type of figure, who is very wary of this new Lantern. He feels like his priority is the Corps, and if this guy’s going to be the weak link in the Corps, then he’s going to have to do something about it. The way he’s drawn, it’s a muscular drawing, so you have to try to bring an element of that to the way you play him. That’s what I tried to do.
Was part of the deal that the role would get bigger in sequels?
STRONG: As far as where we go from this film, it was never discussed. It’s there in the source material, but this was the movie we were making.
When did you shoot the tag that’s after the credits?
STRONG: I think that was shot speculatively. There was the thought that there would be an introduction of the idea that the yellow ring corrupts him. Perhaps it was felt that the body of the film just wasn’t the right time to introduce it. The thing to do was to introduce everybody to the mythology and the story, and then give them that little taste. Certainly, the fanboys who know about it will be excited, and anybody else will get the opportunity of understanding where it could go from here.
How did you guys feel, seeing the final product?
REYNOLDS: For me, it was incredible because I was basically shooting in a box for a good portion of the movie with the blue screen. To see these immensely talented artists, who are world builders, create this universe around me, that I’m interacting with in a very real way, was mind-blowing. I’ve never been a part of anything like that. It was a feat of engineering, unto itself. That was pretty spectacular, that first time. I saw it in 3D as well, and I was practically weeping. It was pretty incredible.
STRONG: Usually, in a movie, you’ll go to see it and you’ll have forgotten what everyone else is doing in the movie. You’ll remember your parts because you shot them. But, on this, you actually get to see the bits that you’re in that you’d forgotten about because there’s nothing around you while you’re shooting. You’re in a big blue room, and every object is covered in blue or green. So, it was amazing to see the environment that you were in, what you were imagining, and seeing it realized. They’ve done such an amazing job. It’s mind-blowing.
LIVELY: It was a very special experience for me because I got to watch this film, almost as an audience member. I grew up always being a fan of these comic book films, and I would come out of them wanting to fly and kick someone’s butt. Never have I seen a film that I’m in where I’m able to watch it somewhat objectively. I was surprised throughout the film, and cheering. It was a really cool experience to be on screen and see the way that it came together. We saw all of the visual effects, all of the artwork, and all of the design, but it was such a big undertaking that it seemed impossible that this movie would actually come out. We’ve been living with this movie for a year and a half now, so I can’t believe that it’s actually here. I’m so excited to share it with everyone because I think it is very special.
Peter, what did you think the first time you saw what your character would look like?
SARSGAARD: I’m glad I’m married because I’m not going to get any dates from this movie. The thing that impresses me the most is, when it comes right down to it, it all has to be in Martin’s head somehow. There are a lot of people doing different jobs, and it’s incredibly collaborative. There were people doing CG here and scores there, but there’s a guy that has to make sure that all of those things come together and turn out great. I’m just extraordinarily impressed that he managed to contain this in his mind, in some way.
Blake, coming from a TV show with a mainly female audience, like Gossip Girl has, and moving into a comic book movie, which tends to be more male-leaning, what should be done to attract more of a female audience, and why should women watch this movie?
LIVELY: I’m always attracted to strong women, and I think Carol is a character I wish was portrayed more on film. It’s so nice to see a woman fighter pilot up there, flying a plane, and I think women will appreciate that. Somebody said to me, “This is a very modern film because now women are strong,” and I said, “Women have always been strong, it’s just a new idea to see it more on film.” I think women will appreciate that. I think anybody that goes to a theater wants to sit down and be transported to another world for two hours, and this movie is appealing to everybody. It’s full of heart, humor, action, and the fact that it takes place, not just on planet Earth, but it’s also in the entire galaxy, with tons of alien species and different planets, and I don’t care who you are, your going to have your imagination blown open. Also, Ryan is half-naked for a good part of the film.
If you were superheroes, what evil would you try to stop in our world?
REYNOLDS: I’m a pretty ardent environmentalist, so for me, it’s all those issues that go along with that, under that umbrella of global warming, foreign oil and oil in general. I would try to correct that.
LIVELY: We were in New Orleans during the oil spill, so we got to see, firsthand, the effects of that. I think we would use our will, which is something that’s undermined often. The power of the human will, when people come together, can make change. I think it’s very easy for people to say, “I’m not going to make that big of a difference by myself, so I’m just going to live my life how I’m going to live it because that’s easier.” But, it’s amazing what people can do, and it’s amazing what one person can accomplish. I wish we could all unify our wills more and make a change because we have messed up our planet a lot. We can fix it, but we have to do it.
Is that something close to your heart, in particular?
LIVELY: The more I travel, the more I see these incredible animals that we’re killing off. Even when we did reshoots of Green Lantern in South Africa, I went cage diving with these great white sharks, who I was always terrified of, and I thought, “Good, get rid of sharks. They’re evil! They’re awful!” But, they’re such incredible creatures, and they’re just as afraid of us as we are of them. They’re nearly extinct. There’s less than 1,000 left, and it’s completely messing up the whole structure of the ocean. It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening. I love scuba diving. I’m an avid diver. And, there’s this beautiful world that’s more incredible than any CGI film we could ever make, that we’re destroying, for what? It’s heartbreaking to me.
REYNOLDS: The message is to cuddle with more sharks.