R.I.P.D. follows a murdered cop (Ryan Reynolds), who is recruited to join a police task force known as the Rest in Peace Department. Along with his eccentric, cowboy partner (Jeff Bridges), the two fight to protect the world of the living from evil forces known as Deados.
At a press conference for the film in New York, Reynolds and Bridges talked about stunts, the inspiration for their characters, and what they think they’ll face on judgment day.
Ryan, you’ve done a number of comic book films. Is there something that appeals to you about the genre? And Jeff, we don’t usually see you in films like this, so what struck you about this one?
Bridges: I like bizarre movies, and this one fit the bill. You know, ones that are surprising. I love to see movies where the filmmakers are ahead of you and you don’t know what’s gonna happen, and the premise of this one was so bizarre that I thought, “Oh, yeah. This could be interesting.”
Reynolds: Comic books, I don’t read a lot of them. It’s such a huge part of the industry these days. It’s a legit genre unto itself. It’s the same as most actors will end up in a drama at some point; at some point you’re gonna end up in a comic book movie it seems like these days. I’ve been lucky to be a part of a few of them. But this isn’t really a comic book. It’s a graphic novel, which I read after I read the script. I just thought that the world was really cool, seeing these two lawmen who were of completely different eras and modalities, and how they do things, kind of come together and clash, that’s what I thought was kind of cool.
Based on the R.I.P.D. law that you can’t come back as yourself, if you got to choose, who would your on-Earth version be?
Bridges: I would come back as Ryan Reynolds.
Reynolds: Wow. I like that.
Bridges: You like that, man?
Reynolds: Yeah, you’d probably make some better decisions than I did. I’d probably come back as, I don’t know, my dog has a very good life. But I don’t know. It’d be cool to see what it’s like to be President for the day, come back as Obama. I don’t know, find out where all the bodies are buried.
Ryan, you seem like a real gentleman, but you still have to fear something on judgment day so what do you think the doorkeeper will say to you?
Reynolds: Wow. When I was a kid, like a little kid, maybe nine or ten, I was a complete a**hole. I would run around the neighborhood on Halloween throwing firecrackers in peoples’ mailboxes, at their houses, and things like that. We were just these little hell raisers. I’m so terrified that I’m gonna have sons one day that behave this way. I’m sure I have a lot to atone for, if there is in fact a judgment day. It’s gonna be a long list for me. It goes right up until I was about 18 and then I sort of straightened out.
What exactly did you do?
Reynolds: Well, definitely the firecrackers and that sort of stuff, but when I was 18 years old, I was pretty reckless. I know there’s a statute of limitations, so I don’t really wanna get into it right now. I’m sure that if I said it, it’s beyond the point of being arrested for. But yeah, I have a few choice nuggets that I’m not gonna talk about.
Ryan, as a producer on the film, are you thinking about the box office?
Reynolds: I think everybody involved in a movie thinks about the box office. It’s the biz part of showbiz. It’s an inevitable part of the deal. But I’m not a producer on the movie. I’m an executive producer. There’s a huge difference. A producer is someone who actually calls the shots. An executive producer is just a guy that eats more food at craft service.
There’s a lot of running around and action in the film. How’d you prepare physically?
Bridges: Most of the difficult stuff, physically, for me, was being spun around in that car. That was the biggest challenge.
Reynolds: I think with movies like this, you have to have some degree of toughness. You’re gonna get beat up a little bit, but it’s not as bad as you’d think. I did a film a year and a half, two years ago called Safe House and my neck was killing me after the movie. I went on for about six or seven months until I finally went and got an x-ray. The doctor laughed and said, ‘You broke your neck!’ I was like, ‘What?’ My C5 and 6 were broken! You think you’re an actor and you think the stunt guys do it all, but you get beaten up so now I’m a little bit more, ‘Let’s let the stunt guy do it. I’m good. I’m fine.’
Bridges: You get carried away when you’re in a movie because you think it’s all pretend.
Reynolds: Yeah, and you get knocked around a little bit. I think Jeff was doing even more than I was. He was doing a lot.
Bridges: Well, you had that chair thing that was pretty wild.
Jeff, you’re a writer, photographer, artist, musician and songwriter.
Ryan Reynolds: That’s just a few of my qualities. [Laughs]
With all of this art, is there one you prefer most?
Bridges: No, not really. They’re all kind of the same to me in a way. I approach them all in the same way, which is to get out of the way and let the thing come through. They all relate to each other. I remember when I started writing songs, it was early in my career, and I would be studying my script, and all of a sudden, I’d say, ‘Oh, that would make a good song.’ Then I’d find myself with my guitar in my hand and writing a song and I would get so angry with myself. I’d say, ‘No! You’ve gotta be studying!’ But now I’ve come to find that they’re all interrelated and inform each other. That song will help my acting, my drawing sometimes, and sometimes they put it in the movies.
Reynolds: It’s a great byproduct to work with Jeff because you get to be privy to all this stuff. You come on the set and you never know what he’s gonna be doing. He’s got a squeezebox one minute, the next he’s playing guitar, then we’re reading novels out loud. He’s kind of this Renaissance man.
Ryan, are your dad and brothers happy with this character and how you play a dead cop? And Jeff, how’d you create this archetype of a Western Cowboy?
Reynolds: Neither my brother or my father are dead cops. They’re very much alive. They’re great. They love this stuff. They get into it. When I was a young 17 or 18-year-old whippersnapper wanting to go down to Los Angeles to become an actor, that was the worst idea they’d ever heard. My dad, it looked like I told him I was getting a sex change or something. He just couldn’t fathom a life like that. Now though they see that it is in fact a real job and a real career. They come to set, they go, ‘I can’t believe you just worked 16 hours!’ It’s not all puppy dogs and ice cream, but they’re into it. They think it’s kind of a cool chosen field.
Bridges: What comes to mind is my dad, Lloyd Bridges, who was in a lot of great Westerns. High Noon was an example. I remember as a kid, him coming home in a cowboy hat and boots, and all that stuff, and I would love to get all those things on. And whenever I get a chance to play a cowboy, especially guys like Wild Bill, I loved it. And the history, there’s such an amazing part of the history of our country. It only existed for a brief, short time, but some wild characters came out of that. It’s great to get into those guys. I love that.
Ryan, you’re great in The Croods and Jeff, you’re working on The Little Prince, so how does doing an animated movie compare to a live-action one?
Reynolds: Well, a live action movie is work and an animated movie is you showing up in your pajamas once every three months, or in my case, just a splash of baby powder. It’s not any kind of heavy lifting. Doing an animated movie is just a ton of fun. The most work I did on Croods, or Turbo for that matter, was just showing up at the premiere. When they ask you to do movies like that, you just say, ‘Absolutely. When and where?’
Bridges: One of the fun things about doing an animated film, it’s all about honing. You just keep perfecting and they never commit to the final product because it’s so expensive until down the line so you work on it for three years. Woody Allen kind of can do that. He can shoot his whole movie over again. But I love that. You can really experiment with different things and you’re always encouraged to improvise. They have video cameras on you capturing the actual live action. I really enjoy it.
Reynolds: But you’re right. They don’t know the story even until they’re sort of halfway through. They start shaping it.
Bridges: It’s a long process. And The Little Prince, being involved with that, I’m really excited about it.
Jeff, I love your accent in this movie. Can you talk about developing your character’s accent and dialect?
Bridges: Yeah, the sound man didn’t like that too much. It’s kind of hard to understand some of it. Sometimes, when I’m preparing for a role, I’ll kind of invite the character into me, and that’s how the guy sounded. He’s like one of those, not séances – what do they call it? A medium!
There’s a bit of a generation gap between the characters in the film. How was that for you in real life? Did it manifest itself on set?
Reynolds: We hit it off. We got along like a house on fire. We were having a ball.
Reynolds: There certainly is a gap in that I’m such a huge fan of Jeff. I think he’s a legend and, particularly, I think he can embody a character better than anyone in the game. Character acting is a much braver pursuit than a guy who runs around and intermittently clenches his jaw muscles. Just to be around that and learn from that is something that I adored.
Bridges: We approached the whole thing in a very similar way, where we liked to engage with the other actors. I could have said, ‘Ryan, I want you to call me Roycephus.’ Some actors do that, but we both liked to get to know each other and get to know the players. And also I think the way we approach acting is similar.
Reynolds: When you work with method actors, it can be very off-putting and kind of invasive, too. I respect anyone’s process, but it’s not very fun when the villain in the movie is giving you the hairy eyeball at lunch. It’s like ‘Come on, man. Really?’ We’re all in SAG. You don’t really have a gun. It’s fun to keep the work fresh and playful, and also just to get to know one another. You’re with each other five months, you want to make the most of that time and the experience.
Both of you mentioned your fathers and upbringing. How have your families influenced you as you’ve grown up and the decisions you make now?
Reynolds: I was the youngest of four boys. Five if you include my father, who might be the youngest. I was less a little brother and more of just a moving target around the house. It was certainly a positive childhood, but you have to have a high tolerance for some immensely disgusting acts with three older brothers. My older brother, Terry, his favorite seat in the house was my face. I’m not exaggerating at all. It was pretty rough.
Bridges: Especially when he had to fart.
Reynolds: Yes! When he had a full dinner, there it was, my face, was his favorite seat in the house. It was a great childhood, but it was kind of an adventure. Having three older brothers is both awful and amazing at the same time. I remember when I was a kid, I wanted to get an earring. I was 13 years old and my brothers were saying, ‘You’re dead. Dad is gonna turn you into an actual liquid if you do this,’ and I said, ‘I don’t care. I’m getting this earring!’ So I went with my friend Ken and his mom to Sears after school and got an earring. On my way home, I was just a dead man walking. I know I’m gonna get to dinner and my father was gonna take his fork and he’s gonna put it in my jugular, I’m gonna bleed out at the table. When I got home though, I heard my father mutter something kind of vile and I look up and he’s not looking at me. He’s looking at my three older brothers and each one of them got their ear pierced that day to save my ass, which I just thought was the sweetest thing in the world. I look back at that and that forgives all the times my face was a seat cushion.
Bridges: My dad, unlike a lot of actors in showbiz, he loved showbiz and he loved acting, and he really encouraged all of his kids to go into it. When I was eight years old, he’d say, ‘Hey!’ You wanna come to work with dad? Come on! It’ll be fun!’ I’d say, ‘[Groans].’ He’d say, ‘Come on! You’ll get to get out of school. Come on! It’ll be fun!’ So he always encouraged us to do that and, of course, he was my teacher. He taught me all the basics about acting. I think maybe the thing I learned most from him was not anything that he told me, but just watching him work. I got to act with him as an adult a couple times in Tucker and Blown Away, and I really sensed this joy that he had, that he’d be wanting to turn his kids onto as well. He had that in his soul and that joy was kind of contagious. Working with Francis Coppola on Tucker, I remember, Francis is a bit of a kid in a way himself, so the two of those guys together, everybody says, ‘Oh, this is fun what we’re doing here!’ That kind of spreads through everybody, you’re having fun, you’re kind of relaxed, and the stuff can come out easier. That’s what I’d find. But he was a wonderful, great dad.
Ryan, what or who do you think are the monsters of this earth in real life today?
Reynolds: That’s a great question. Holy sh*t. Wow. You look at who has the most influence and how it’s being used. I can’t help it, but look at some politics and government. I just think we lack the ability to teach our children dialogue at this point. I think if we taught kids conflict/resolution, I hate to be so serious about it, but at a young age about really hearing other people and understanding their perspective, and then sharing your own when it’s appropriate, I think the world would be a totally different place.
Bridges: What comes to mind is, you remember Pogo? ‘I have met the enemy. They are us.’ That’s kind of it! It popped into my mind that we’re all Deados, basically.
R.I.P.D. is in theaters now.
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