Actor Ryan Reynolds is at that stage in his career where he’s starting to make a name for himself in this business we call “”show””. He was on a moderately successful ABC series “”Two Guys and a Girl”” and now he’s starring in his first major Hollywood production, Artisan Film’s “”National Lampoon’s Van Wilder””. “”Van Wilder”” is one of those rare animals that you don’t see everyday, it’s an over the top, gross out comedy that actually, for the most part, works.
Ryan plays Van Wilder a man with on a mission, a mission to stay in college for as long as he’s possibly can. He’s somehow managed to stay in school for eight years, until his father cuts him off. Now he is forced to come up with creative ways to stay in school. I sat down with Ryan several months ago and had a conversation with him that went a little something like this. [Note this interview took place back in January, and the film’s original March release date slipped to April]EMLet’s start this interview off with my standard overly broad question. Tell us who you are and why we are here?RRMy name is Ryan Reynolds and I’m the star of “”National Lampoon’s Van Wilder””. EM What can you tell us about “”Van Wilder””?RR[laughs] We’re really here to discuss my feelings on the “”Big Bang Theory””. But that’s a whole other story. “”Van Wilder”” is a story about a guy who is, I think the tag line best describes him, he’s sort of a ‘Farris Beuller for the 21st century.’ It’s about a guy named Van Wilder who has been in college for eight years until his father cuts him off. He spends the rest of the film trying to find ways to stay in school.EMI was on that five year college program myself. How does one manage to stay in school for eight years?RRHe finds every way not to graduate. It’s a fine balancing act that he has to walk, to maintain the minimum amount of credits required to stay in school, without doing to much to graduate.EMWhat was your college experience like?RRThe closest college experience that I had was this film. I went to school, briefly, in Vancouver Canada, and it was nothing like colleges here in the US. It was small and felt like an aimless, faceless, high school.EMWhat is so different about the schools in Canada? Are they more serious? RRNo, they have very good schools in the US. The main difference is that they are bigger, there are more people, US schools have big sports programs, fraternities and sororities, etc. It’s just more…EMDid this film make you want to attend an American University?RR Absolutely! One of the great things about this preliminary ad campaign is that I get to visit a few colleges. A movie like “”Van Wilder”” is tough to promote because a lot of the content can’t be shown on television and a lot of the truly funny moments in the movie are “”payoffs”” – jokes that are setup early on and payoff later, seen out of context they wouldn’t make much sense. Word of mouth is going to be an important factor in the success of this film. The comment I’ve been getting from a lot of people is – they weren’t expecting it to be so funny and to distinguish itself from the other “”young comedies”” – the “”American Pies””, etc. Most movies start off strong and then fizzle, this one is actually different. It builds throughout and gangs a momentum.EMThat’s exactly how I felt about it. During the first half of it, I was going, hmmmm….Ok, it’s not funny, I’m not laughing here, but it does suck you in and by the time you get to the big set pieces at the end, you are just ready for them.RR[Excited] Yeah! That’s it exactly. I would rather have the movie have a slow start, then have it fizzle at the end. I mean it’s only an 82 minute movie, so the payoffs do come pretty quick.EMAfter a long season of “”epic”” dramas, like “”A Beautiful Mind””, “”Lord of The Rings””, etc. Do you think the audience is ready for a comedy?RRYes, I think this movie is going to be well timed. EMSomeone who went to the screening last night sent me an email and said that you reminded them of a young Chevy Chase. [Editor’s note – EM sponsored an early sneak of the film a few months ago]RRI’ve heard that a few times, and am incredibly flattered by that. He’s one of my major influences.EMIn the movie your character is the straight guy, while everyone else around you goes over the top. Was this your decision or the director’s to play the character this way?RRThe director and I had a lot of discussions regarding this. The character couldn’t go “”off the deep end””, because a comedy or any film needs an anchor. In truly successful comedies, like “”There’s Something About Mary”” Ben Stiller’s character earns those “”broad”” funny moments. That’s the problem with a lot of these young comedies, they think that goofy is great, but they don’t do anything to build the momentum.EMHow did this script come to you?RRI was in a movie called “”Buying the Cow”” with Jerry O’Connell [Note – film hasn’t been released yet]. The producers of “”Van Wilder”” saw that and then sent me the script. When I first read it, I didn’t like it. So they sort of “”retrofit”” the script to suit me. When I got it back, I couldn’t believe it was the same movie, it was so much better than the original script.EM Are you spending anytime doing independent films?RRNo, not really. I just did an indie film called “”Finder’s Fee””. It’s a dramatic piece about four guys in a room, playing poker the entire movie, other than that, no.EMEveryone has been telling me about your old show, “”Two Guys and a Girl””. I’ll admit that I have never seen it. But they all tell me that you were funny in it. After doing that and this film do you find yourself starting to get pigeon holed into certain types of roles?RRNo, not really. I think we confuse people who are comedians with people who are charismatic. I’ve been fortunate that people have looked at me and said that ‘oh, he can do comedy, but he also has charisma.’ EMHow was your transition from television to film? Which do you prefer more?RRI love film more than television, although I did have an excellent experience in television. It’s a bummer when you see so many young actors complain about being “”tied”” down to a television show. It’s a “”problem”” half the world wish they had. I was not sad to see my series end and it was ready to move on. But I look fondly back on that time.EMSo many actors have trouble transitioning from television to films, why do you think this is?RR A lot of people in television are “”personalities”” and not really “”actors””. What happens is you put “”personalities”” into a film that contains a story, and characters with texture, that just isn’t part of most television shows. When you have an actor, like Tom Hanks, Bill Murry, etc. the move to film is a natural progression.EM[Note – Darn, we were just getting going when our time ran out. So I closed with these last two questions]””Van Wilder”” has inspired me to become a “”party liaison””. How does one go about becoming a “”party liaison”” and in your opinion what are the three things that make a really good party?RR1) A dash of connections. 2) A good theme.3) Access to a lot of horny college kids.EMBefore they kick me out, I must ask this question. Did you use a body double?RR[Big Laugh] NO! I’ve been asked this question by everybody. It’s my body.EM[Laughs] Darn, and here I thought I was being original!RR[Still laughing] I’ve been asked this by audiences during the Q & A’s. You are the first member of the press to ask. All the nudity and stuff [blushes], yep, that’s me. That’s my body, that’s my butt.EMSo did you ever get comfortable with being nude in front of the camera?RRWell in context I am, but in everyday life no, because I don’t have an ass, it kind of disappears in my jeans.