Do you hear that sound? The sound of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” getting louder and louder? Do you know what that sound means? It means we’re getting closer to the release of, honestly, one of my favorite movies of the year so far, Free Guy.
The Ryan Reynolds-led charmer is hitting theaters this Friday, August 13! And in addition to Reynolds, we were lucky enough to hear the cast and crew, including the incredible Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Taika Waititi, and director Shawn Levy discuss the making of the film and the reasons why we should be psyched about seeing it (and take it from someone who has seen it, you really should!). Read what they had to say below:
The first question was for director Shawn Levy about the journey it took to bring this movie from script to screen, particularly after the pandemic delayed it several times.
Levy had this to say. “Well it has been a ride. And it has definitely been a longer wait than we expected. But you know what? This movie was such a delight to make. And the making of the movie was really joyous and fun. And we’re just really excited to really get to share a movie that hopefully has that same fun, and delight, and warmth that was on set, hopefully gets translated to the screen. And getting some of these early reactions has been really affirming that it’s all coming through to audiences the way we’d hoped.”
Reynolds was asked about what it was like to step into a hero as wholesome as Guy (aka “Blue Shirt Guy”) in comparison to an R-rated character like Deadpool.
“Well my default is just pure trash on the inside so it’s slightly new for me,” Reynolds joked. “There’s a movie that I love called Being There with Peter Sellers. That was the first hold I had on this character and this world. And there’s something really wonderful about playing a character who’s kind of naïve and innocent. And really like we said in the movie, in a sense, he’s like a 4-year-old adult. So there’s something really fun about exploring everything with new eyes, and filtering them through the prism of comedy and occasionally cynicism and a few other things. But I love playing a character who’s sort of stepping out of the background into this kind of new person.”
For Comer, a question came about what aspects of the movie brought her the most joy.
“There were a couple of things,” Comer started. “One was the team. Being able to work with the creatives that were working on the film. And the sheer imagination that the script had. I remember reading it thinking, ‘oh my gosh, how is this going to translate on to the screen?’ You know you had the real world mixed in with the video game. So it was just the scope of it. And how much heart it had. You see it written down a lot that it’s an action comedy. But I just feel like there was so much more to that. Like you said there’s so much emotion. It provokes so much emotion in you. I think it was the imagination that the script had for me.”
Levy and Comer were asked about the song choice of prominently featuring “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey as the official track of the movie.
“That was Ryan actually,” stated Comer.
“Ryan is kind of a maestro of the odd, random, but inspired song idea,” Levy stated. “He was obsessive about it early on when we were working on the script. Ryan’s like ‘You know what I think should be the anthem of this entire movie and of the marketing campaign?’ And he suggested this song by Mariah. And little did we know that by the third act of the movie, we’d have a cover of that song by our very own Jodie Comer in the movie!”
“In the earliest draft, we had written in The Outfield’s ‘Your Love,'” stated Reynolds. “It ended up not fitting right. It’s a great song, but it ended up not fitting right. Then Mariah Carey’s ‘Fantasy’ came like a lightning bolt and was an engine for so much of the movie. It’s really fantastic.”
Playing the character of Buddy, Howery was asked about what his favorite message from the film was.
“I always like when I get to the end and the audience sees the last speech Buddy gives before this big thing happens. It was such a beautiful — even when we shot it. It’s always weird when you do speeches like that. You’re kind of emotionally tied to it…I had to take a walk. I was tearing up… Buddy has a couple of those moments. Which is what I love about the character. His innocence came with how comfortable he was with his friendship. And that’s what I loved about him… It is something very beautiful that happens towards the end that Buddy discovers with his best friend… There’s another conversation in the beginning with Guy trying to explain to him what the sunglasses were showing him. Buddy just stuck to his place, but we just saw the heart of him open… People are really surprised this has so much heart in it… You’re going to [tear up]!”
Next, Waititi was asked what it was like to play the larger than life character of Antwan.
“I feel like my characters are usually quite nice. I usually play versions of my mum in all my characters. And this was like a version of my mum who had not grown up. It’s just based on people I’ve met. So I’ve met a lot of people like this in America,” Waititi joked.
When asked about a supercut of Taika Waititi’s improvisational moments, Levy added this:
“There is a Taika Waititi improvisation supercut. Literally I cut, I think it’s about 39 minutes long. I forced myself to cut it down to a minute and a half so it could go on social media days ago, but eventually it must be shared with the world! Because it was a level of improv that I rarely rarely rarely see.”
A question was asked about what the casts’ favorite Easter eggs in the film were, and Ambudkar provided a fun answer.
“Well turns out Ryan Reynolds has a lot of famous friends, and he got a lot of them to be in this movie,” he stated, tip-toeing around some of the surprises the movie has to offer. “The whole third act is…Oh my god… it is jump out of your seat scream with joy. It’s so much fun. There’s so much cool stuff. I can’t give any of it away. If I wasn’t in the movie I’d be so stoked. For all of the people out there like me, I see you and we’re being seen by this film. It’s very fun!”
The cast was quick to point out Ambudkar as the biggest gamer among them. When asked what his go-to game was, he said, “I play Fortnite with my 40 year old friends… That’s how I stay in touch with my friend… As somebody who logs a lot of hours in [the video game] space, it really is true to that one and the people who occupy it. We got Ninja, Laser Beam. We got a ton of great people from the video game community that I think folks are going to be very excited to see.”
Keery also added his assessment of video game culture as depicted in the film.
“I actually think you guys have done such a great job of giving a really great nod to video game culture. There are so many funny little things. I mean I’m not a huge gamer myself, but there’s this great shot in the movie, during this montage sequence. You see this character in the background, and it’s played by a real life person. And in those first person shooter games, when people crouch, there’s this specific funny motion and it means something. And so to see this character do that in the background… it’s like this small 1-2 second thing… it’s really funny and dead on, and I think it speaks to the whole culture. It gives a good tip of the hat to the whole video game culture.”
When asked about whether he had to learn about coding video games for his role of Keys, Keery said, “Yeah that’s something I feel like, in preparation for doing the part, I just wanted to make sure I understood stuff. I mean I’m no pro-coder. If you told me to create a video game I don’t think I’d be able to do that. But that’s kind of where you meet Keys in the beginning. He and Millie made this game together that they’ve sold off to Antwan. And he repurposes the code for Free City. And that’s sort of important that we feel his passion for this world he’s created and for coding in general. So it’s something I feel I got a newfound appreciation for actually. Which is one of the best parts of this job. Working with these talented people but also getting to just put your headspace somewhere you didn’t expect to visit and learn different skills. It made showing up to work so fun every day.”
When asked about the importance of why Free Guy needs to be seen in theaters, Levy had this to say:
“Every filmmaker wants the stories they tell to be seen as loud and as big as possible,” he started, “And we live in a brave new streaming world, and I very much have some feet in that world as well. But Free Guy was made with one goal in mind, which was collective delight, which was something we were going for. That is an experience that you can feel on your couch at home. But it feels really different among other humans in the dark. And so for that reason, we’ve seen this movie with audiences, and it becomes this collective energy and collective delight that I think is done justice on the big screen and in cinemas. We live in obviously wildly unpredictable and unknown times and it shifts every day. And how we spend our time and live our lives is a very individual decision, as it should be. But I know we tried to make a big, new, original movie with spectacle and scope and big heart. And those things are really experienced most on that really big canvas and big screen.”
And I couldn’t agree more. If you feel comfortable, and can accomplish it safely, I encourage everyone to see this wonderful charming movie as soon as they can on the best and biggest screen possible!
Free Guy hits theaters Friday, August 13!
Don’t have a good day. Have a great day!