Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi and director Shawn Levy talk ‘Free Guy’

Opening only in theaters on August 13th is the new comedy-action movie Free Guy, which was directed by Shawn Levy (Real Steel). The film stars Ryan Reynolds as Guy, a non-playable character in a video game. After Guy meets Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer), who is played by Millie, the designer of the game, he becomes self-aware and now knows he is a background player in the game. Guy decides to become a hero, which causes problems for the owner of the game, Antwan (Taika Waititi), who plans to put out a sequel to make more money. Now, in a race against time, Millie must work with Guy to save the game and all its characters before Antwan destroys it forever. In addition to Reynolds, Comer, and Waititi, the movie also features Lil’ Rel Howery (Get Out), Utkarsh Ambudkar (Godmothered), and Joe Keery (Stranger Things). 

We Live Entertainment recently had the pleasure of attending a virtual press conference for Free Guy, which was attended by Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi, and director Shawn Levy. The filmmaker responsible for the Night at the Museum franchise began the press conference by expressing his joy for the film’s release, which had been delayed due to the pandemic. “It has been a ride, and it has definitely been a longer wait than we expected,” Levy admitted. “But this movie was such a delight to make, and the making of the movie was pretty joyous and fun. We’re just really excited to finally get to share a movie that hopefully has that same fun, that delight, and warmth that was on set. Hopefully, it’s translated to the screen and that it’s all coming through to audiences the way we’d hoped.”

Reynolds then talked about discovering the screenplay and working with Levy to develop the project. “I read the script, and Shawn and I had met about working together,” the actor explained. “So, I read the script, and then I sent it to Shawn. The next thing I know, Shawn was in my living room in New York and we were talking about this world, how we could build it, and how we can make changes that would make it relevant and speak to the world that we’re living in now. It just went from there. It’s hard to make a new movie, and it’s hard to make something that isn’t based on some pre-existing IP, comic book, or a sequel. It’s very challenging. So, you get the script to a place that you feel like it’s great. Then you have to kind of make it better somehow because you don’t have any ability to rely on a pre-existing knowledge or fan base. So, you really have to go out there and prove it the old-fashioned way. That was a challenge that, Shawn and every single cast member were up for.”

After playing Deadpool and Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds is no stranger to playing heroes, but the actor plays a different type of hero in Free Guy, and he explained his inspiration for the character. “There’s a movie that I love called Being There starring Peter Sellers,” Reynolds explained. “That was 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, and really, he’s a four-year-old adult. So, there’s something really fun about exploring everything with new eyes, which is what this character gets to do and filtering that through the prism of comedy and occasionally cynicism. But I love playing a character who is stepping out of the background into this new person.”

Actress Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) has the opportunity to play two characters in-one in Free Guy with her dual role as both Millie, the game’s designer, and Molotov Girl, her avatar within the game, and she talked about the challenges and joys of playing this role. “It was a huge part of what attracted me to the piece, especially having this girl Millie create and then become Molotov,” she said. “It was so important that she was always an essence of Millie, but that Molotov was also very different. I think I really tried to focus on the physicality. But there is a lot of nuances there, especially within her world. Even looking into how male-dominated that industry is, which is kind of similar to my own, and those kinds of fights that she clearly was up against and the resilience which that created in her. There was so much for me to play with, and I feel like that was always really present and thought about. From the moment I got the first draft to the moment when we were on set and we were playing around, we were changing things, and Ryan and Shawn would always ask my opinion of what I thought. So, it was such a great experience to be able to also bring my own ideas to play.”

Actor and filmmaker Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) plays the film’s villain, and he discussed how director Shawn Levy convinced him to take the role and his unusual inspiration for his character. “Honestly, I didn’t really know really what to expect, or what I was doing,” confessed Waititi. “Shawn and I had one phone call, and he said, I think you can do it. I don’t know, I thought that he might have been just trying to topple his career somehow. Shawn described the character and that appealed to me because I feel like my characters are usually quite nice. I just play versions of my mom in all my characters. So, this was like, well there’s a version of my mom! Basically, 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.”

Finally, Levy talked about the importance of portraying the gaming community correctly, and how he went about achieving that for Free Guy. “This movie was about threading the needle between wanting to represent the gaming world correctly and accurately,” Levy said. “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 from a viewer who wasn’t a gamer. I just wanted to make a movie that was warm, funny, romantic, and enjoyable. So, kind of trying to tick both boxes was always part of the goal and something we worked really hard to achieve.”

Free Guy opens in theaters on August 13th

Written by
A graduate of Emerson College, Jami Philbrick has worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years, and most recently was a Senior Staff Reporter and Video Producer for Mtime, China's largest entertainment website. Before that, Philbrick was the Managing Editor of Relativity Media's iamROGUE.com for 4 years and has written for a variety of magazines and online publications including Wizard Magazine, Nerdist.com, and Collider.com. Philbrick has also been a contributor on Fox News, News 12 Westchester, AMC Movie Talk, and the PBS movie review series, Just Seen It. Philbrick was the 2019 recipient of the International Media Award at the 56th annual ICG Publicists Awards, and has interviewed such impressive talent as Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Bill Murray, Al Pacino, Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Willis, Mark Hamill, Spike Lee, Frances Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Stan Lee, and Kermit the Frog.

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