Ryan Reynolds and his zany lust for humour returns back to the big screen this week with the gaming comedy Free Guy and brings along a few famous faces to play the first Artificial Intelligent NPC with a major crush on Jodie Comer. You can read our review of the film here.

Directed by Night at the Museum franchise filmmaker Shaw Levy, the film mixes the real world with the life being lead inside a game. The film follows Reynolds’ Guy, a bank teller at Free City Bank who lives a simple existence. Always positive and upbeat, he has no idea he is an NPC within the game Free City. Not until he meets the girl of his dreams, Comer’s Molotovgirl who is on a mission of her own to unearth the dirty secrets of the game’s creator and total dickwad Antwan played by Taika Waititi.

Recently Levy alongside Reynolds, Comer, Waititi, Lil Rel Howery and Utkarsh Ambudkar came together for a virtual press conference to give the lowdown from behind the scenes of the comedy.

We are all well aware of Reynolds’s stint as the R-rated Deadpool, but this time around he ditches the tight-fitting suit for something a little more mundane as the wholesome, blue shirt guy. To take on such a naïve character Reynolds stated that some of his inspiration came from Peter Sellers.

“Well, you know, my default is just pure trash in, you know, on the inside. So, for this, it’s just slightly new for me. There’s a movie that I love called Being There starring Peter Sellers.  And that was, like, the first kind of foothold I had into this character and this world.  There’s something really wonderful about playing a character who’s kind of naive and innocent, it’s even said in the movie, he’s, in a sense, he’s kind of like, he’s a four-year-old adult.”

Anyone who has seen the trailer or the numerous clips that have been making the rounds on social media knows that Mariah Carey’s Fantasy has very much become the film’s theme. Reynolds was the catalyst for this choice of song, but it wasn’t Mariah actually singing the track but the film’s own Jodie Comer.

Shawn Levy said;

“Ryan is kind of a maestro of the odd, random but inspired song idea.  He is obsessive about it, and early on when we were working on the script, Ryan’s like, you know what I think should be the anthem of this entire movie and marketing campaign? And he suggested this song by Mariah. Little did we know that by the third act of the movie we’d have a cover of that song by our very own Jodie Comer in the movie.”

Whether you are a gamer or someone new to this world, there is something for everyone in the movie, from classic gaming moves, friendships and romance, and a lot of Easter eggs. For Lil Rel Howery, there were moments of his friendship with Reynolds in the film that got slightly too emotional for him.

“I always like when I get to the end of it, right, and once the audience see that last speech Buddy gives before this big thing happens. But, it was such a beautiful [scene], even when we shot it, it’s always weird when you do speeches like that.  You’re kind of, like, emotionally tied to it. I remember shooting it with Shawn and then we were talking.  I had to take a walk.  I wasn’t going to tear up in front of y’all, but I was like, wow, that was what that was.  Buddy has a couple of those moments, which is what I loved about the character is his innocence came with how comfortable he was with his friendship.”

Another actor who takes on a slightly different character than what we normally see is Taika Waititi in the role of the movie’s villain, Waititi divulged that not only did he take inspiration from his own Mother but by no surprise to anyone, Waititi’s love of comedy and improvisation could well be making their way to the DVD for a supercut reel.

Waititi: I don’t know about a supercut.  What’s, how long is a supercut?”

Reynolds: “Four hours and 10 minutes.”

Waititi went on to state; “When DVDs finally come back, we’ll get that. Antwan, honestly I didn’t really know really what to expect, or what I was doing.  I don’t think it’s just that Shawn’s faith in people’s abilities and just trusting, I mean, I probably trusted him more.  We had one phone call, Shawn described the character and that and, uh, I hadn’t really met you.  I don’t know what, I thought that you might have been just trying to, just topple  your career somehow. It appealed to me ’cause I feel like my characters are usually quite nice.  I just play versions of my mom in all my characters. So this was the sort of a version of my mom, who I think that had not grown up, I suppose. The characters I work on are just based on people I’ve met.  So, I’ve met a lot of people like this in America.”

First and foremost, Levy wanted to make sure the representation of the gaming world was correct and he went to great lengths to achieve that.

This movie was about threading the needle between wanting to represent the gaming world correctly and accurately.  And for that, I spoke with a lot of game publishers, coders, game designers, and played and watched a lot of games, in preproduction.  So, getting that right was really important.  But it was also important to make a movie that required no gaming fluency – kind of trying to tick both boxes was always part of the goal and something we worked really hard to achieve.  By the way, circling back, there is a Taiki Waititi improvisation supercut.”

In this day and age, the last thing we women want is to be greeted by yet another sexy female lead that only has romance on her mind. Thankfully Jodie Comer’s Molotovgirl aka Millie is a multilayered character, yes she has that “spark” with Guy but she’s also a god-like figure who can kick ass with the best of them. Comer was not only delighted by her character’s different attributes but was thankful to Levy and Reynolds for the constant inclusion and respect for her ideas.

“It was incredible. It was a huge part of what attracted me to the piece, especially having this girl Millie and Molotov being a creation of her.  It was so important that it was, always an essence of Millie. But that Molotov was also very, very different. I think a way in which we did that, which I really tried to focus on, was the physicality.  But, there is a lot of nuances there, especially within her world. Even looking into kind of how male-dominated that industry is, which is kind of similar to my own, and those kind of fights that she probably would have well, definitely, clearly was up against.  The kind of resilience in which that created in her, there was so much for me to play with. I feel like that was always really present and thought about.  From the moment I got the first draft and then to the moment when we were on set and we were playing around, and we were changing things, Ryan and Shawn would always be asking my opinion of what I thought.  So, it was such a great experience to be able to also bring my own, you know, my own ideas to play.”

Circling back to the Easter eggs of the film there are fun nods to pop culture and other phenomena.  Utkarsh Ambudkar, as a 40-year-old gamer and nerd was more than excited to see the end product.

“It turns out Ryan Reynolds has a lot of really famous friends.  And he got a lot of them to be in this movie.  Are we allowed to be specific? The whole third act for somebody who grew up with Star Wars, Marvel, video games is – oh my God.  It is jump out of your seat, scream with joy.  There’s so much cool stuff.  And then it’s just, I can’t give any of it away except that if I wasn’t in the movie, I would be so stoked.  It’s just like, for all of the people out there like me, I see you and we’re being seen by this film.  And it is very fun.”

Free Guy hits UK cinemas on August 13th.