Ryan Reynolds has been acting for years, showing up in everything from TWO GUYS, A GIRL AND A PIZZA PLACE to VAN WILDER, but he really hit his strideand mainstream approval, apparentlywith last year's BLADE: TRINITY. And now the actor is returning to the genre with this week's remake of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR.
Reynolds stars as George Lutz, head of the family that find themselves living in the infamous Long Island haunted house of the title. Several months ago, CINESCAPE visited the set of the film outside of Chicago, and during the course of our stay we spent some time with Reynolds, who filled us in on all things AMITYVILLE.
CINESCAPE: Have you ever been to Amityville?
RYAN REYNOLDS: No, I've never been. I want to go, but I think those people are probably already a sideshow attraction, so I doubt they'd really appreciate that.
C: How did you get the job? The producers have said that they had you in mind early on.
RR: Yeah, they're so weird. It was a strange series of events. They had seen chunks of BLADE, and that kind of put it in their heads. I think before that they just would have thought that it was gigantically preposterous that I would be doing this movie. [BLADE] opened up a lot of doors for me. And then I went after [AMITYVILLE]. I still had to fight for it, because it is so the antithesis of what I've already done. And I think that was part of the charm. You just don't see it coming.
C: Can you describe the role of George Lutz?
RR: Yeah, George Lutz is an incredibly prideful man. He's married into this new family and by doing so he's inherited these three kids, and he has this beautiful wife and he wants to do right by them. That is the crux of his being and his dilemma. He really wants to take care of everybody and I think he's gotten in over his head a little bit. Not to mention having three kids, but also this house even though it's two thirds cheaper than it normally would be, he still can't afford it. And his hubris kind of takes him down, and he drags everyone down with him. So I've been approaching the role kind of from a psychological aspect because I can't really grasp the notion of demonic possession. [laughs]
C: I've heard people compare your version of the character to Jack Nicholson's character from THE SHINING. Have you taken inspiration from that film or any others?
RR: The Nicholson thing has come up before, but that character, Jack Torrance, is like iconic. I would never want to come even close to trying to replicate that, and it's just not right for this role. Jack Torrance relished his misery and his psychosis. George Lutz doesn't at all; in fact, that's the key difference. He's fighting it the whole time. His horror is in that he has a lack of choice. He doesn't want to do what he's doing but he feels compelled to do it. But he's hating it.
C: And he's redeemed ultimately?
RR: We hope. [laughs] It's such a fine line.
C: Did you see the original movie?
RR: A long time ago, yeah. For its day I thought it was alright. It's sort of like watching CARRIE. It doesn't hold up. At the time you were kind of like, "Whoa!" But no, it certainly wasn't something that I studied or looked at before doing this. I read the book several times, loved the book, and I think this is a little bit more of a faithful adaptation of that. And also, I studied a lot of news articles and different interviews that George Lutz gave, without getting too deep into who George Lutz is because we're not doing a biography of George Lutz.
C: Are you concerned that you might get typecast after doing two genre films in a row with this and BLADE?
RR: BLADE to me isn't a horror movie at all. It's more of a sci-fi, fantasy, kind of thing. They seem like subtle differences to some people but to me they're pretty big. And an acting job is an acting job is an acting job. Whether it's a horror movie or a comedy... people just can't fathom that you can do both, and you can.
C: What was it like working with director Andrew Douglas, who's making his feature dramatic debut here?
RR: He's a genius. When I heard he was doing the movie I was like, "Oh, a visual guy. Great. We'll all look cool. But is the movie going to be compelling at all? Is the movie going to survive opening weekend?" I was kind of sad at first, and I really typecast him in my head. And then I met him and he was just this incredibly intuitive, interesting, highly intelligent man. So I would almost think that the visual thing would be secondary to the rest because he's so good with actors and he really wanted to shape George Lutz into something human. We didn't want him to be a monster ever. We wanted him to be the most grotesque mutation of a human possible, not a demon. So at the outset Andrew just said, "You do the psychological thriller and I'll shoot the horror movie." And that's how we're doing it.