With the new film Woman in Gold out this past weekend, it’s a wonder to think what factors casting agents take into account, especially when pairing a revered British actress with a (some would say) mediocre snarky comedic actor. Obviously Reynolds has lately been taking roles that require more dramatic skills than comedic ones. However, this trend of pairing Reynolds with actors above (or below) his caliber has been a thing for a while. Sure it’s something that’s done all the time with other actors, but this specific casting choice of Mirren/Reynolds sticks out in particular. So why not look at some past odd Ryan Reynolds’ pairings to see if this trend is a good or bad thing.
1. Kristen Stewart/Ryan Reynolds in Adventureland (2009)
The age difference isn’t the only weird element about this “romantic” duo. Given Kristen Stewart’s general awkwardness and Ryan Reynolds’ typical charm mixed with smarm, they definitely aren’t the most likely of people to hook up. And yet they do in this ’80s set comedy also starring Jesse Eisenberg, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig set in a amusement park in Pittsburgh. While the fact that they are a bit of an odd couple is probably the point, it’s still a little uncomfortable watching them hookup (which again, is probably the point). Reynolds is also not his typical smooth self in this film, he plays a cheating husband/musician and doesn’t have too much of a chance to show off his comedic prowess. He’s more just there to look good and be an obstacle (kind of) for Jesse Eisenberg’s character.
2. Jeff Bridges/Ryan Reynolds in R.I.P.D. (2013)
Who can forget this unfortunate attempt at creating the next Men in Black (everyone, hopefully)? While Jeff Bridges’ films as of late haven’t been that super (it can be assumed that Seventh Son isn’t on the same level as Tron), he’s still Jeff Bridges, and having Ryan Reynolds paired with him is a bit strange, especially when Jeff Bridges is the goofy one and Ryan Reynolds is the somewhat straight character. Take away the dodgy special effects and all there is Reynolds and Bridges trying to have chemistry, and it just doesn’t work out that well. Most likely the script’s fault, but it’s a shame to have Reynolds paired up with a veteran actor and have him not let him do what he does best: be a snarky son-of-a-gun. And of course most of what Bridges says is undecipherable, so that’s also an issue.
3. Denzel Washington/Ryan Reynolds in Safe House (2012)
While Ryan Reynolds has gained a reputation as an action star along with his comedic street cred, it’s still strange for him to be paired with such a seasoned action star who, on the surface, wouldn’t appear to have any chemistry with Reynolds. But to Reynolds’ credit, he manages to partner up with Denzel Washington without attempting to overshadow him (or out snark him). The real surprise is that Denzel is the snarky one in this film, not Reynolds, who instead oddly plays the straight man (and works out a lot better in this than in R.I.P.D.). It’s a nice contrast watching someone give Reynolds a hard time instead of vice-versa. Washington can usually pair up with anyone successfully, but it’s always risky when putting two very different actors together. Surprisingly, it kind of works in this. No doubt it’s still strange to watch, especially since the film that Reynolds did before this one was The Change-Up. So it is nice to see him play the straight man, even though he’s usually at his best when he’s funny. But for this movie it was the right call.
Reynolds has had an interesting career so far, specifically the films above and films he has coming out in the near future. The oddest of these future films is probably Self/less, Tarsem Singh’s (The Fall, The Cell, The Immortals) next film, a sci-fi-ish caper about a wealthy dying man who undergoes a medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into a younger body (that younger body being Reynolds). But the film on everyone’s list is most likely the very anticipated Deadpool movie that has finally been approved for an R rating. It’s no doubt that Reynolds will be on his A-game for that because it’s pretty much the role he was destined for. His comedic skills will be put to the test for sure, but there’s proof (especially just from watching him in interviews) that he has the chops. What’s interesting about the pairings above is that they are films where his comedic talents aren’t really used (or at least not to their full potential). In the case of Safe House (and even Adventureland), his comedic skills aren’t really needed. Whereas in R.I.P.D., they could have been used a lot more. Ultimately, the films above show that Reynolds has some range, but he’s at his best when he’s able to just riff and be the snarky/funny guy (and that’s why Deadpool is going to be amazing). There will most likely be more odd pairings to come (and hopefully no more R.I.P.D.-like fiascos), but there’s hope that after Deadpool, despite whatever the pairing, the films he does will be worthy of watching.
— Sarah Pearce