Ryan Reynolds makes his millions being a benevolent shithead. Van Wilder was a benevolent shithead. Deadpool is a benevolent shithead. Detective Pikachu is a benevolent shithead. Even vampire hunter Hannibal King (look it up) was a benevolent shithead. But there’s a bit of distance between the actual Ryan Reynolds and the Ryan Reynolds persona. In person, the actor is unfailingly polite, unfailingly Canadian, and extremely willing to talk about his own failures as a dude and a father of two (with a third on the way) and a human. He is, in short, a nice guy. He is also a product of not only his own experiences but his own desire to be a nice guy.
Growing up in a household he’s described as “never relaxing or easy,” Reynolds didn’t have the closest of bonds with his own dad, James. The two reconciled before the elder Reynolds died in 2015, after battling Parkinson’s Disease for two decades. For the younger Reynolds, having daughters Inez, 2, and James, 4, with wife Blake Lively helped him resolve his issues by creating a family of his own.
“You get to heal some of that stuff with your kids,” he told Fatherly.
Now that Reynolds is one of the most bankable stars on the planet, it’s easy to forget that he spent years trying to break through — years that finely calibrated his bullshit meter. When Reynold calls himself “obscenely lucky,” he’s right and he knows it. He recovered from the Green Lantern debacle and didn’t get stuck in rom-com land after The Proposal. None of that was ever a given. And neither was Lively, who seems to have taught him how to have a happy family. The luckiness extends to all thing Reynolds. Listening to him talk about his good fortune isn’t as uproarious as listening to Deadpool eviscerate his foes, but it’s nice. It’s nice that he’s nice.
Reynolds talked to Fatherly about how being a dad has changed him for the better, why boredom is a good thing, and trying to teach empathy.
So… I’ll just come out and ask it. Is Pokemon: Detective Pikachu sort of Deadpool for kids?
It’s pretty close. I don’t know the machinations behind the scenes. For some reason, my voice fit best according to the people who made these decisions. That’s how I became Detective Pikachu. If you took out the Pokemon connection, does this still work and is it still funny? It was yes to all those things. So sign me up.
You’ve been People’s Sexiest Man Alive and you’ve got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I’m assuming that your daughters care a lot more about Pokemon. Is this your big break from their perspective?
Oh my god, you have no idea. It’s like I’m suddenly visible to them. I’ve never had them express this level of excitement for anything I’ve done on camera or off. I try to remind them constantly I conceived them both and it hasn’t hit as hard as anything I’ve done with this movie. They’ve seen little bits of Deadpool. They’re on set on a lot but I don’t have them on set for anything that might permanently scar them. They’re having a countdown. They’re very excited.
You’ve spoken in the past about your own difficult relationship with your dad. How has being a father yourself changed you and given you perspective?
It’s changed me a lot. Being a father is a healing process for me. It allows you to reconcile some of the issues I maybe had or some of the issues that made my relationship with my father quite complicated. Some people pass down those issues to their own kids. I count myself as lucky and my brothers as lucky that we haven’t fallen into that pattern. My father wasn’t a terrible guy but he had his own struggles.
Is there a disciplinarian in the house?
We don’t work in those archetypes. Expressing boundaries is important. I try to observe more than evaluate. You want them to grow up with a healthy sense of self but to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Empathy is a big cornerstone for Blake and me. I wish they taught empathy in schools.
I feel like that might be hard. I’m struggling to not spoil my kid and I’m not an international movie star. What do you do to make sure that your kids stay grounded?
I think it’s about gratitude and being grateful for what we have, it’s about understanding that. I try to look at it in a microcosmic sense. When I was a kid I didn’t have a lot of toys. It’s interesting what I did with boredom. There’s something really valuable and fertile about boredom. It builds your imagination. For me, it’s easier said than done. It’s hard with screens and screen time. As much as possible we try to emphasize imagination and making things out of nothing. We do allow screens occasionally. But when we’re in a cab, we later take a pencil and paper and draw things we might have seen that day. We do a lot of arts and crafts together.
In a broad sense, how has being a dad changed you?
It’s made me super present in a way I wasn’t before. I try to hold on to each moment with them. It’s drawn me to the present moment as opposed to the future and past. You see how fast it goes. I really want to enjoy as many moments with them as humanly possible. I want to be around them as much as possible and do as many things with them as possible.
Has being a parent changed how you approach work, and the roles you take on?
I don’t think so. The only thing that comes into play is where are we going to be. I can’t spend a year away shooting, especially when the kids get into school. We make sure our family is together.
Aside from your Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, you’ve kept your kids entirely out of the spotlight. What governed that decision?
I don’t know. We live as normal a life as we can live. Our kids aren’t a part of Instagram or social media. I talk about them, but I never post photos of them and neither has Blake. It’s not something we would want to be a part of. Being in public is a choice that people should be allowed to make when they’re of age. I would never want them to resent me for that. I want them to have as normal a childhood as possible.
As for another Deadpool, are we getting one?
I think so. We’re just working on a script. I really can’t say anything else about it. Right now it’s a slightly transitional period, but it seems like it’s all systems go.
We spoke before the first Deadpool opened and you sent my kid a Deadpool backpack. He still loves it even though I haven’t allowed him to see the film for pretty obvious reasons. So… thanks for that.
That’s great. Anytime I can do a parent a solid…. I think it’s a big deal when kids hold on to something for more than a year.