While there were dozens of male actors considered to play the superhero Green Lantern -- Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds scored the role. Reynolds, the director and the cast of 'Green Lantern' (now on Blu-ray & DVD) discuss making the CGI extravaganza.
In Green Lantern, directed by Casino Royale filmmaker Martin Campbell, Ryan Reynolds plays the DC Comics’ legendary super hero who soars to the edges of space as Green Lantern, where a war has been raging between those who rule with fear, and those who protect life -- the Green Lantern Corps. Featuring a supporting cast that also includes Gossip Girl siren Blake Lively, Sherlock Holmes heavy Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard (An Education), Green Lantern is not only a special effects extravaganza but also an acting powerhouse. Shortly before the film's recent summer opening, Ryan, Martin, Blake, Mark and Peter sat down to talk about the making of Green Lantern.
Ryan, how do you go from starring in a claustrophobic movie like Buried to playing a super-hero in this big-budget movie? Is there really a difference between doing a small, independent movie to this high-budget Hollywood film?
RYAN: "The two movies are more similar than not, actually, in the sense that Buried involved a lot of imagination; the people that I was talking to on the phone the entire time, they’re not on the phone with me. Green Lantern, working and going from a small, wooden box to a large, blue box didn’t feel too dissimilar either. I’d never worked on a movie that required this much imagination. It felt like I was a kid again; everything you’re seeing in this world, you have to imagine. Granted, we do have amazing people that are working behind the scenes, Grant Major, not the least of which who’s our crack production designer who created a lot of the worlds for Lord of the Rings and those things, would come down with visual references so I had an idea what I was looking at. I have to imagine what that is, and then express it through my eyes for the audience, and that was a big challenge. I was definitely happy to be able to get up and walk around, even if I had to wear a crash test dummy suit, for the most part."
Mark and Peter, you had to wear a lot of prosthetics, what was that like?
MARK: "Well, I have to bow to Peter on the prosthetics front, because he had a much heavier burden than mine. But suffice it to say, they take a long time to put on, but they’re incredibly effective."
PETER: "We shared the same glue. When I finished he was starting, and my passing comment to him was, 'You’re going to find that you have this thing about the glue. You dream about the glue, you want the glue again, it’s the smell, it’s something about it that’s like, do you really like Tang, or is it just a sense memory?' I still think about it sometimes - and it was kind of impossible to get off. You’d kind of get it off -- didn’t you find that? A couple of days later, you’d just go like this and there would be a long strand. It’s a challenge, but also I think for me as an actor, either with these different stages of it, right, none of them looked like me, even the beginning doesn’t look like me. It was like a gift. For one, I could tell where I was in the movie. A lot of times you’re in a movie and you’re like, 'Right, we’re in the part where what happens?' I had clear stages that told me where I was in the movie, which is nice."
Ryan, you know that Mark and Peter had prosthetics to help them form their characters. You had to depend on purely on your acting skills. How did you make Green Lantern different from all the other big screen superheroes?
RYAN: "A lot of the current iterations of superheroes are a little bit darker and a little bit more serious in tone. The thing I distilled from diving into that mythology and that universe is that there’s a tone that’s a little bit different. It’s a bit of a throwback in that sense, there’s a lot of fun with the character. He’s not a character that’s overly funny, but he’s witty. I always say he’s that guy who can throw a punch, tell a joke, and kiss a girl. There’s something really iconic and fun about that guy, because anything’s possible with that guy. For me, there wasn’t any particular narrative or storyline because we were telling an origin story in this film. It was mostly just tone, mostly just finding out who Hal Jordan was, and also distilling what it is that the fan boys who love this character, what it is that they love about him and making sure that that can be found up on screen. Because if they love it, there’s a good chance that a broader audience is also going to love it, who’s being introduced to this character for the first time."
You've portrayed Green Lantern in this film and Deadpool in the Wolverine movie. How many superheroes do you plan to play?
RYAN: "By 2014 I’m going to do Wonder Woman, but after that I think I’m gonna hang it up. (laughs) I’m gonna hang up the lasso and the short, short shorts. Growing up I read a bit of X-Men stuff and I loved Deadpool. My brother introduced me to Deadpool, and that was a character I loved. Beyond that I didn’t know that much about comics. Those are the ones I stuck to."
Ryan Reynolds in 'Green Lantern'
So you did like playing Deadpool? Are they still planning to do the Deadpool movie?
RYAN: "Deadpool is a character I love and I got a great opportunity to play him in more of an ancillary sense in a film, which was great, because it allowed me to jump in and play him, but then not be committed to too much beyond that. I do have that film that’s in development still, and we’ll see what happens with that, but for the most part, Green Lantern's the first real iconic superhero role that I’ve ever had the great opportunity to play, and I’m pretty damn grateful for that."
What did all of you think when you saw the final version of Green Lantern?
RYAN: "For me, it was incredible because I was shooting in, basically, a box for a good portion of the movie that was blue screen. To see these guys, these immensely talented artists, who are world builders, create this universe around me that I’m interacting with in a very real way was mind-blowing. I’ve never been a part of anything like that. It was a feat of engineering unto itself. That was pretty spectacular, that first time. I saw it in 3D as well; I was practically weeping. Pretty incredible."
MARK: "Usually, often in a movie what you’ll do is, you’ll go to see it and you’ll have forgotten what everyone else is doing in the movie. You’ll remember your parts because you shot them, but on this you actually get to see the bits that you’re in that you’d forgotten about because there’s nothing around you while you’re shooting. You’re in a big blue room, and every object is covered in blue or green, so it was amazing to see the environment that you were in, what you were imagining, and seeing it realized. They’ve done such an amazing job. It’s mind-blowing."
Blake, what did you think of the film?
BLAKE: "There’s nothing more I can say than what everybody else said, but it was a very special experience for me because I got to watch this film almost as an audience member. I grew up always a fan of these comic films, and I would come out wanting to fly and kick someone’s butt. Never have I seen a film that I’m in where I’m able to watch it somewhat objectively, and I was surprised throughout the film and cheering. It was a really cool experience to be on screen and see the way that it came together. We saw all of the visual effects, all of the artwork, all of the design, but it’s still seems somehow impossible that it was – it was such a big undertaking that it seemed impossible that this movie would actually come out. We’ve been living with this movie for a year, year and a half now, so I can’t believe that it’s actually here. I’m so excited to share it with everyone because I think it is very special."
If you were superheroes, what evil would you try to stop in our world?
RYAN: "She’d stop me. I’m a pretty ardent environmentalist, so for me it’s all those issues that go along with that under that umbrella: global warming, foreign oil, and oil in general, I would try to correct that."
BLAKE: "Especially we were in New Orleans during the oil spill, so we got to see firsthand the effects. I think we would use our will. I think it’s something that’s undermined often, the power of the human will, and also when people come together the change that you could make. I think it’s very easy for people to say, 'I’m not going to make that big of a difference by myself, so I’m just going to live my life how I’m going to live it because that’s easier.' But it’s amazing what people can do, and it’s amazing what one person can accomplish. I wish we could all unify our wills more and make a change, because we have messed up our planet a lot, and then we can fix it. But we just have to do it."
Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively in 'Green Lantern'
What was it about your character in the film that appealed to you, Blake? How did you feel tackling a strong female character?
BLAKE: "I think Carol is very unique in this genre. She’s an incredibly powerful woman, she’s also a fighter pilot, along with how she runs her father’s aviation company. It’s rare to see such strong women existing as equals amongst men in film, especially in this genre. And I love that, if this franchise continued, she does become a villain. That was also a very, very appealing element to this."
Martin, you have experience with live-action stunts and special effects. But what did you learn from doing your first CGI, blue-screen movie?
MARTIN: "You learn an awful lot technically about it, and I’ve never done it, the only way to learn it is to do it. You can’t read about it, you can’t be told about it. Point is that you have to do it, so from a technical point of view, it’s a learning curve. But, really, the same rules apply in terms of action and in terms of the way you stage the scenes and so forth. To be honest, it’s very similar, certainly in stage and the action, we wanted the action to be tough and hard. We didn’t want Green Lantern to get up having been slung against a wall at 100 miles per hour to just shake his head and go back into the fight, so he does get pushed around and beaten up a little bit, and really has to feel the pain -- as it were. In a lot of respects, it was very similar to doing Bond or any other action film."
Blake, coming from Gossip Girl, a TV show with a mainly female audience, and moving into a comic book movie which tends to attract basically males, and as one of the two female characters in the movie, why should women want to see Green Lantern?
BLAKE: "I’m always attracted to strong women, and I think Carol is a character I wish was portrayed more on film. It’s so nice to see a woman fighter pilot up there, flying this plane, and I think women will appreciate that because somebody said to me, 'This is a very modern film because now women are strong.' And I said, 'Women have always been strong. They’ve always been standing behind the heroic man; it’s just a new idea to see it more on film.' I think women will appreciate that, but I think anybody that goes to a theater, I think you want to sit down and be transported to another world for two hours, and this movie is appealing to everybody. It’s full of heart, humor, action, and the fact that it takes place – it’s not just on planet Earth, but it’s also in the entire galaxy, there’s tons of alien species and different planets, and I don’t care who you are, but it’s going to the cinema like you were as a child and just having your imagination blown open. Also, Ryan is half-naked a good part of the film."
Carol is a more realistic leading lady in the way she is pretty honest and straightforward. Was that you bringing your own energy to it, or was it written that way?
BLAKE: "It was definitely written that way; that was what was so appealing about Carol. I think in a lot of ways, this film was much more straightforward and honest. We talked earlier about the scene where I first see Hal as the Green Lantern, and every single superhero film, how on Earth do they not see that this is the person they’ve known their whole life, that they’ve been intimate with? You don’t recognize him because he has a four-inch mask on his face? In a lot of ways, this movie tackled those things and I think it’s a really refreshing take on such a big film full of fantasy, to have those moments where you actually acknowledge what every other comic film doesn’t. That bled through to each of our characters, and the fact that Hal is a superhero but he’s also very, very human. He’s flawed and doesn’t know if he wants to be a superhero. I think that that’s incredibly unique and that’s why I think this story’s so special, because you can really connect with the people at the heart of this story."
The special effects in 'Green Lantern'
As a director, Martin, what’s the difference between filming a character like Green Lantern in comparison to Superman or some other well-known superhero? Is there risk involved since audiences aren’t as familiar with the character?
MARTIN: "I don’t know if there’s a risk involved. The thing is, Superman’s been around – the comic’s been around a long time and so have the movies. They’ve done a lot of Superman movies, as they have with Batman. You could say that Iron Man was a second-tier character, and it turned out very successfully. I simply think it’s down to the movie itself, and whether people enjoy the movie, like the movie, are involved in the movie, whether it entertains them. From that point of view, the movie has to stand alone. Whether or not the superhero is second-tier or first-tier, I think is irrelevant. I don’t think he’s necessarily a greater or lesser superhero either than Superman or Batman, but I think it was said earlier that their problems are all Earth-bound, so they’re much easier to film and do. Obviously, Green Lantern deals with space, and I don’t think up until now the technology’s been able to catch up with the vision. I don’t think he’s a lesser character, I just think it’s the way it’s been made over the years. It’s much easier to make a Superman or a Batman than a Green Lantern."
Ryan and Blake, you either of you believe we are alone in the world? Do you believe that there is life out in space?
BLAKE: "We actually know the secret to this, so you’re asking the two right people."
RYAN: "I’ve worked with aliens. I know. I don’t know. I wonder if we’re alone. I’m just going to plead the Fifth on that. I’m not going Shirley MacLaine on you."
Green Lantern Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack Bonus Features: Theatrical Film (3D & 2D); Extended Cut (2D only); Maximum Movie Mode with Picture in Picture Pods; "The Universe According to Green Lantern" and "Ryan Reynolds Becomes Green Lantern"; Justice League #1 Digital Comic; Additional Scenes; Preview of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and BD-Live. Green Lantern is available on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, featuring a 3D hi-definition, a hi-definition, a standard definition and an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the standard definition theatrical version of the film and Blu-ray Combo Pack, featuring a hi-definition, a standard definition and an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the standard definition theatrical version of the film. Green Lantern is available on October 14 on Blu-ray Combo Pack with UltraViolet Digital Copy or Download to own http://bit.ly/qw00KD To view the Green Lantern trailer click to http://youtu.be/WzBvbhQxwZY and to watch "The Oath" sequence, go to http://youtu.be/gUUH-BNnjMoALSO AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD
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