Following the Green Lantern movie panel this past Friday at WonderCon 2011 in San Francisco, stars Ryan Reynolds (the titular superhero and civilian identity Hal Jordan) and Blake Lively (female lead Carol Ferris) talked to press about their experience making the film, due out on June 17.
The interviews were in the "roundtable" format — which is to say, a group of reporters sitting around a table, firing away with questions. Newsarama was there, and asked Reynolds how familiar he was with the Green Lantern mythos before taking the role. Not very, he freely admits, saying he got a "pretty accelerated education" upon starting production.
"I didn’t know much about it," Reynolds said. "I knew the logline: 'Guy’s given a ring by a dying alien, becomes superhero.' That’s all I knew."
Reynolds, a comic book movie veteran who appeared in Blade Trinity and X-Men Origins: Wolverine supporting roles, pointed to the frequent on-set presence of DC chief creative officer and current Green Lantern comic book writer Geoff Johns as a valuable help in making sure the movie reflected the source material well.
"Geoff Johns was great to have around, because he was kind of the mythology police on set," Reynolds said. "He made sure everything was up to snuff. When you have an executive producer that’s also a fanboy, if you’re a studio, that’s probably scary sh*t."
Lively indicated to Newsarama that she took the part of Carol Ferris because the character is "empowered," as opposed to a stereotypical damsel-in-distress.
"She’s often the one that saves him, because he is not a superman, he is a man, and he has doubts about whether or not he wants to dedicate his life to humankind, and save the Earth, and all the galaxies around," Lively said. "So the fact that she’s there to inspire him is cool, because in real life, we do rely on other people in moments of weakness and doubt to push us through. I thought that this was really appealing about this story."
The Gossip Girl actress also said she enjoyed the unique dynamic between Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris from even before the Green Lantern powers comes into the equation; both their romantic and professional relationships.
"He works for her company — that’s also got to be a little awkward," Lively said. "He’s completely reckless, but he’s so talented. She has to keep him. They were each other’s first love, but he was also reckless with her, and with her heart. She wears many hats, and balancing all of that was a great character to play."
With lines like "Let's get these pants off and fly some planes" in the first Green Lantern trailer, many fans expressed concern that Hal Jordan would be a sarcastic quipster in the vein of past Reynolds roles like Van Wilder. Reynolds was quick to dismiss that notion, saying that while there are elements of that type of "arrogant and cocky" personality in the early part of the movie, there's a definite shift once Hal Jordan receives the power ring from Abin Sur.
"You have to inject some of your own being into the character to make it work, but at the same time you have to be deeply reverent and respectful to the character’s origins," Reynolds said. "We were very careful to never push that too far."
That said, Reynolds added that the movie is definitely not a super-serious affair in the vein of the Christopher Nolan Batman films, and that there's some natural humor given that the plot features a normal guy being thrust into an extraordinary world.
"There’s got to be some moments of levity there," the actor said. "The movie isn’t The Dark Knight, and it’s not a comedy at the same time, but it is somewhere in between."
Reynolds stressed that journey of test pilot Hal Jordan to space cop Green Lantern as a vital one to the film's narrative, saying that Corps members Sinestro, Kilowog and Tomar Re all serve as mentors, as well as a way to help explain the "rules" of the film.
"This is a guy that’s out of control at the beginning of our film, and he’s out of control in, I think, a more realistic way," Reynolds said. "He’s not like, in the band Poison, and falling asleep on an oven, which is turned on. He’s out of control in a real world sort of way. He’s kind of a rudderless guy, he’s reckless, and he’s arrogant, he’s misguided, and doesn’t know where he’s going. This ring chooses him, and it’s an extraordinary gift, and it’s humbling for him, and I think it gives him purpose in life."
Acknowledging that there are many people — like Reynolds himself before working on the film — that may not be aware of the central concepts of Green Lantern, the actor said that explaining such things to a mass audience is "achievable."
"I thought Star Wars would probably be a tough one to explain, too," Reynolds said. "For me, it was more the technology. The technology had to be such that it could actually make a film like this possible, and it is. I don’t think this movie would even be possible three years ago.”
Though the movie isn't in theaters for more than two months, both Reynolds and Lively discussed a possible sequel. Reynolds said that a second film is attractive, since it would no longer be necessary to have the same level of exposition.
"It’s kind of exciting for that director, because he doesn’t inherit any of that," the actor said. "He's just ready to go. We get to shoot. All the problems that you have in the pre-production, trying to figure out, 'How do we get this on the screen in the right way?' all those months spent answering all those little questions, they’re answered.”
Reynolds also said that the plot direction for a second film is clear.
"I already know where the story’s going to go. I think when people see the movie, they’re going to know, as well," he said. "That’s set-in-stone, pretty much."
Other details revealed during the chats include plenty of praise for Warner Bros. and director Martin Campbell, Reynolds' thoughts on the Green Lantern Corps oath ("a really beautiful thing," and he loves the uniting factor), his fondness for Superman starring Christopher Reeve ("That was amazing. The man could fly."), downplaying his physical training to prepare for the role ("I get exhausted reading interviews with actors talking about how they bench press full-grown pandas"), Lively's feelings on why the film will appeal to female audiences ("It's always fun to see the powerful woman behind the man in a suit, especially when the suit is that of a superhero"), her thoughts on wearing a compression suit for flight scenes ("There's nothing less flattering… I could not move without walking like a character from Toy Story"), and her own physical training regimen ("I trained for months, for probably three seconds that you’ll see on the film").
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