What Matters to Ryan Reynolds: Blake Lively, Their 3 Kids, and ‘Deadpool’

The star of 'The Croods: A New Age' is all about teaching his daughters empathy.

by Donna Freydkin
Originally Published: 

At some point, sooner rather than later, anyone who interviews famous people will be asked what a certain famous person is really like in real life. It makes for an ostensibly scintillating dinner table convo, back when we had family dinners. But mostly, these celebs are precisely as you’d imagine. The boorish ones are boorish. The strident ones are strident. The witty ones are … well, you get it. Sprinkled among them are the really, truly nice, lovely ones, the ones who, like Ryan Reynolds, once upon a time made a filthy movie about a profanity-spewing mercenary.

And while promoting it, he learned that a certain kid, then 5, was obsessed with Deadpool but wasn’t allowed to see it due to such kid-friendly bon mots “crime-fighting shit swizzler” and “sandpaper dildo.” So the aforementioned Reynolds gifted the aforementioned child with a limited-edition (make that a zero edition, actually) Deadpool hoodie that you couldn’t buy in the real world, along with a matching backpack. To this day, they’re the kid’s most treasured possessions. And to this day, he thinks he and Reynolds are, well, buddies. “We are. We are, I’m afraid. Totally normal stuff,” says Reynolds.

Because that’s the vibe you get from Reynolds, that while he might be one of the most bankable stars on the planet, he’d be just as happy taking your kid out for pizza and shooting the shit about superheroes. But Reynolds the Famous Person is not to be confused with Reynolds the Dad. The father of three — Inez, 4; James, 5; and Betty, 1 — with wife Blake Lively never shares photos of his daughters, and keeps details of their upbringing resolutely private. Reynolds also relentlessly trolls his spouse on Instagram because he can, keeps up a running faux-feud with Wolverine, and promotes worthy causes without ever being pedantic or tiresome about it. Back to voicing Guy, who lives with the Croods and is Emma Stone’s boyfriend, in the prehistoric animated comedy The Croods: A New Age, Reynolds talks to Fatherly about raising grounded kids and why empathy is the most important lesson of all.

My kid watched the movie and the verdict was: He really liked “Guy” because he’s very smart and nice, and the movie really shows that people can get along.

Yeah. Well, there you go. He just described 2020.

Truth. This is a movie for kids, and you have three of them. How have your priorities shifted over the years as your family has grown?

I recognize how fleeting the nature of youth is. And I see it going by so fast. I know, that’s such a cliche. Everyone says, ‘Oh, it goes by so fast.’ In the first year, you’re thinking, this is the slowest thing of all time. Then all of a sudden it just takes off. You see them coming home from school — 2020 was a little bit different, but you see them coming home from school, all sorts of new ideas and loves and ideas and thoughts and passions. It’s just the best.

One thing that’s really shifted for me is really prioritizing the time. I try to make sure that I’m not distracted. When my kids ask me something, the phone is down, I’m looking at them in the eyes. I’m giving them my full attention because I just want to make sure that I make the most of the time that I have with them.

How do you and Blake support each other as parents?

How do we support each other as parents? I think we’re pretty good teammates. It helps that we really like each other. We’re pretty good at sharing almost all the responsibilities of parenthood. If she were here right now, she’d say, uh, but we both love it. We both love being parents. We both love spending time with our kids. I can’t think of a time ever since we’ve had kids that we’ve wanted to get away from them. Even when it gets crazy, even when they’re throwing tantrums and making it tough — you’re going to be lying on your death bed one day and not thinking I should’ve spent more time on Twitter, you’re going to be thinking ‘I should have spent more time with them.’ We’re pretty aligned in that.

You’ve been open about your difficult relationship with your own father. How has fatherhood shifted for you?

I think being a parent can sometimes heal you in certain respects. We all carry little bags of rocks around with us from our own childhoods. And I think our own parents in a lot of instances were doing the best that they could with the tools they had. But that doesn’t mean things don’t occasionally hurt still. So I think when you have your own kids and you’re able to willfully divert or avoid passing on some of those things that ailed your own childhood, I think that those are wins and they’re weirdly healing. Having kids gives us an opportunity to sort of heal the past.

Do your kids think you’re cool? Mine most definitely does. Think you’re cool, I mean. I’m not cool.

I think so, but everything is about perspective, right? My kids think that every parent does stuff like I do. They think we hung the moon. There is going to be plenty of time down the road where they’re just gonna wish nothing but ratchet and broken glass upon us. But for now, I’ll take the crown.

How do you decide what projects to take on, because obviously whatever you’re working on takes you away from the family?

I still have the luxury of making decisions based on love and passion and creativity. And I get to work with people that I really love to work with. I’m working with Shawn Levy, again, who I made a movie called Free Guy with last year. My kids are of the age where they get to come with us still. But I realized that that window is closing and eventually I’ll have to slow down or stay at home in New York a lot more. So we’re enjoying this, but Blake and I both — if she’s shooting a film, I’m not shooting a movie. We always make sure that we’re staying together.

And I also recognize that’s an obscene luxury and privilege to be able to do that. It’s something that we are very grateful that we’re able to do. So we keep us all together. We don’t actually split up like I don’t take off for a foreign country and spend three or four months shooting a movie and then come home. We all go together and we make it an educational experience. My kids got to go to Abu Dhabi a year and a half ago and spend a month there.

What is next for Deadpool? And is he going to swear in the next movie?

I can’t imagine a scenario in which he is not swearing, but, um, you know, we’ll see. Unfortunately, I sound like a broken record. I’m unable to give you an accurate or informative update right now. I am so enthusiastic. It’s the role that I would quite literally pay money to play, to perform. I hope I get to do it for as long as humanly possible, as long as my bones and muscles will let me, and my silver tongue. I really do love it. It’s a privilege to play that character, and he’s so much fun. The sky’s the limit for him, particularly in the landscape that we’re working in.

We were really lucky to do two movies and really being able to put what we thought was the best version of Deadpool up on the screen. I see no reason that we won’t be able to do the same thing with a third Deadpool.

Will you make an appearance in 2021’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League, as Green Lantern.

No, no. That’s not a flex and no, that’s a firm no, unless there’s something I’m unaware of.

And of course, you’ve got Aviation gin.

I still own the company. I’m just as passionate as I was last year or last month or last week or yesterday. So I’m really, really excited about it.

I know you and your wife troll each other on social media, but I also know that both of you are very socially conscious and you support so many causes. How do you teach your kids to be engaged in the world?

I think teaching kids empathy is hugely important. I think it’s just a bedrock for all good things in any human being. They teach advanced calculus in school, but I don’t understand why — I’ve never needed that. The one thing I have needed is empathy. Empathy just helps you in every aspect of your life, in your career, in your relationships, your interpersonal relationships, your intimate relationships, it’s kind of everything. So I think for me, that really making sure that we spend a good amount of our time with our kids, talking about that concept, what it means to utilize it and implement it in the world is super-important to us. And I’m not saying I’m a parenting expert because trust me, I’m not, but I know that for us, that has worked really well with our own kids.

The Croods: A New Age is in theaters now.

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