At long last, FREE GUY is set to arrive in theatres after multiple delays, but if you’ve heard the chatter, you’ll soon understand why this epic Comedy has been saved for our return to the theatres! Full of heart and surprises, the Film from Director Shawn Levy centers on a Bank Teller named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, ultimately becoming the hero of his own story…out to save the world!
We had the joy of sitting-in on the global Press Junket for this hilarious Blockbuster and in-attendance were a star-studded group:
Shawn Levy – Director
Ryan Reynolds – Guy
Jodie Comer – Millie/Molotov Girl
Joe Keery – Keys
Lil Rel Howery – Buddy
Taika Waititi – Antoine
Utkarsh Ambudkar – Mouser
Shawn Levy talks about the excitement of the world finally getting to see FREE GUY.
Levy: Well, it has been a ride and a longer wait than we expected but this Movie was such a delight to make. The making of it was pretty joyous and fun, we’re just really excited to get to share a movie that has that same fun and delight and warmth that was on-set. Hopefully it translated to the screen. In some of these early reactions it’s been really affirming and all coming through to audiences the way we hoped.
Ryan Reynolds talks about stepping into the world of a wholesome hero.
Reynolds: My default is just pure trash on the inside so this is slightly new for me. There’s a movie I like called ‘Being There‘ starring Peter Sellers and it was like the first foothold I hand into this world. There’s something really wonderful about playing a character who’s kinda naive and innocent. In a sense, he’s like a four-year-old adult. So there’s something kinda fun about exploring everything with new eyes, which is what this character gets to do, and filtering that through the prism of Comedy. I love playing a character who’s stepping out of the background and into this new person.
Jodie Comer does double duty as Molotov Girl and Millie and tells us about balancing this.
Comer: One thing which draw me to the role was the Team – working with the Creators of the Film and also the sheer imagination the Script has. I remember reading it and thinking ‘Omigosh, how is this gonna translate onto the screen?’. You have the real world mixed-in with the Video Game and I think it was just the scope of it and how much heart it had. You see that it’s written about as an Action-Comedy, but you see there’s so much more to that. It provokes so much emotion in you. I think it was the imagination the Script had for me.
Mariah Carey’s ‘Fantasy‘ plays a pivotal role in Free Guy and the question is asked about why this song in particular.
Levy: Ryan is a maestro of the odd, random but inspired song idea. He was obsessive about it early on as we were working on the Script. He said, ‘You know what I think should be the entire anthem of the Movie and marketing campaign?’. He suggested this song by Mariah and we know that by the Third Act of the Movie we have a cover of that song by our very own Jodie Comer!
Reynolds: In the earliest drafts we’d written The Outfield‘s ‘Your Love‘ and it ended-up not fitting right. It’s a great song but Mariah Carey‘s ‘Fantasy‘ just came in like a lightening bolt. It was like an engine through so much of the Movie. It’s really fantastic!
Reynolds and Howery talk about the central theme of friendship in the Film.
Howery: I like when I get to the end of it and that’s where the audience sees the last speech Buddy gives before this big thing happens. It is always weird when you do big speeches like this, you get emotionally tied to it. I remember shooting with Shawn and I had to go take a walk. I wasn’t gonna tear-up in front of him. Buddy has a couple of those moments which is what I love about the character, it’s that his innocence that came with how comfortable he was with his friendship. It is something really beautiful that happens towards the end that Buddy discovers with his best friend. It’s another conversation in the beginning Guy trying to convince him what the sunglasses was showing him. Buddy just stuck to his ways and we just saw the heart of him open and open which is why I live this character so much. People are really surprised how much heart it has. Yeah, you’re gonna tear-up!
Taika Waititi steals the show as villainous Antoine and talks about his character.
Waititi: I didn’t really know what to expect or what I was doing. We had one phone call (with Shawn) and I hadn’t really met you. Shawn described the character and that appealed to me. I just play visions of my mom in all my characters and so this was my little vision of my mom. I’ve actually met a lot of people like this in America and it’s what I think of Americans… at CAA parties.
Utkarsh Ambudkar and Joe Keery tell us about their characters’ catch phrases.
Keery: I think the best catch phrase is ‘catch-phrase’. I think that’s genius. I don’t feel my character really has a catch phrase.
Ambudkar: I don’t remember. Was it ‘Go Time? Yeah it’s Go Time, baby!’. That’s all me. I desperately tried getting Taika’s character on-board in this mentor/mentee-type relationship. Antoine is not having it at all. I think it makes for a funny chemistry between us. All of us got really lucky this whole Cast works really well together. Everyone makes each other look good. It’s rare you get this many people who get this energy going with each other so that’s awesome.
The Gaming industry is not unlike the Film industry in that they are male-dominated. Jodie Comer comments on the parallels in her character(s) and real life.
Comer: It was incredible and 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 different so I really focused on the physicality. There is a lot of nuance within her world and even looking into how male-dominated that industry is, which is kinda similar to my own and those kind of fights we’re definitely up against, and the resilience in which that created in her. There was so much for me to play with. That was always really present and thought about from the moment I got the Script, the first draft to the moments we were on-set playing around, changing things. It was such a great experience bringing my own ideas to play.
Ryan Reynolds and Lil Rel Howery talk about the friendship they formed on and off-screen in FREE GUY.
Reynolds: Rel’s character and I live on this intersection a little bit on the page, a little bit on the moment. But I feel that’s the case of every single person on this webinar. Everybody here’s very good at creating and building and three-dimensionalizing their work. Rel and I immediately clicked. I was a huge fan of his. And we can all say he was a huge fan of Taika. It’s great to get out there, mess around and play and form that bond, and put it up on the big screen.
Howery: I mean for me it’s weird because Ryan Reynolds has been my friend in my head for a really long time. And to this day I don’t think he believes that I’m a legit fan. When he was winning everything with Deadpool I was calling people “I toldja! I toldja Ryan was a superstar!’. I don’t get nervous about meeting anyone but I was really nervous that first day. One of the fun things about this business is you get to work with people you really look up to, not just as an Actor but as a fan. I don’t know he’s gonna be my friend after this movie but we’re gonna enjoy the moment.
Levy and Reynolds tease the possibility of a Franchise for FREEGUY.
Reynolds: I hope we get to this again whether it’s in the form of a Sequel or something else. We’re lucky a couple people in here I’ve gotten to work with multiple times. If it’s not another FREE GUY movie or another movie in another form.
Levy: The short answer is ‘yes’. But I’ve made things that launched franchises and have made enough things to realize you just
I don’t know the outcome. We have flirted with some ideas but my favourite thing in Free Guy is that Taika‘s character in an original movie mocking the idea of releasing something new. It’s so rare a studio lets you make a big budget new movie. So to have Antoine played by Taika talking about sequels and having this cynical attitude towards them. I will say for anyone who’s seen the movie, if we do make Free Guy 2 it will be titled ‘Albuquerque, Boiled Turkey’! If you’ve seen the Movie you’ll get that joke! Based on one of 700 million improvised lines by Taika Waititi!
20th Century Studios Canada release FREE GUYAugust 13, 2021.