In Netflix’s “Red Notice”, Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson play unlikely teammates in a battle of wits and verbal-acrobatics. The latter plays an FBI profiler who goes up against Reynold’s motormouth of an art thief. In The Rock’s character’s words, the two are tied up in a ‘marriage of convenience’.
“We’re work wives.”
“We’re NOT any kinds of wives.”
Thus, a beautiful friendship is born, a spawn of brutal comedy and stinging irony. On-screen… (and probably off-screen) wives, indeed.
When Interpol issues a Red Notice for the world’s most wanted art thief, the FBI’s top profiler, John Hartley – played by the smackingly jovial rock of a Dwayne Johnson – takes up the task. Soon, he finds himself crossing paths with a slippery art burglar, Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds).
An unlikely alliance is formed as they attempt to outsmart “The Bishop” (Gal Gadot) once she thwarts both of their initial plans for glory. A swashbuckling adventure ensues for three macguffins, dropping the trio all across a variety of fancy parties, prison cells, jungle bungles and coliseum clashes. It’s got style and suave. It’s playing absurd games of cat and mouse. (And cat)… (And also mouse again)…
Such is the premise of Netflix’s latest action-adventure, a globetrotting adventure so massive that it conjured up a $200 million USD budget – although part of that number likely arose due to pandemic delays. Being Netflix’s most expensive feature to date, it buries the previous record holder, the Michael Bay caper, “6 Underground”, by $50 million. Only time will tell as to whether “Red Notice” will maintain its crown with Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling’s “The Gray Man” also set to hit the streaming service in the near future.
Nevertheless, that’s enough talk of figures.
The room fills with the sweet smell of an aviator’s gin. Oh, and there he is with that scarlet scent of a grin. It’s the man, the ‘myth’ who leaked that “Deadpool” test footage years ago. Was it ever confirmed? We don’t know. On the flitting colours of the cinema, he’s that wonderful performer we all know and love. Needless, to say, his comedic genius, it’s off-the-cuff…
2021 has been a stellar year for the man-with-a-mouth. Hot on the heels of playing a lovable Guy in Shawn Levy’s feel-good summer hit, along with reprising his nutty guardian job in “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” – gosh, what are they gonna go with next? “The Hitman’s Wife’s Hamster’s Bodyguard”? [teehee] – it’s safe to say that Reynolds has been putting some serious maximum effort out there.
We recently sat down with the former Sexiest Man alive after the theatrical premiere of “Red Notice” during which we discussed his brand of comedy and the struggle to maintain a straight face on set. With such great co-stars to boot, we discussed both the on-screen and off-screen dynamics along with who would absolutely demolish the other in a fight.
And hell yeah, we pit two of Reynolds’ celebrated characters in a gladiator-like sequence, in a fight to the death. Okay, maybe not in such a cruel manner, but it was a circumstance that could have ended with one member of the Reynoldverse biting the dust. Sorry, there’s a lot of warfare involved but we gotta know, right?
1. This is your second collaboration with Netflix. How do you feel about working with them once again?
Oh, I love working with Netflix! It’s bringing a marquee blockbuster quality right into people’s homes. It’s a pretty awesome place to work. They are very film-friendly. They are very director and writer-friendly. I’ve loved the two movies that I’ve been in thus far. I just finished another one called “The Adam Project”, coming out in March, which is a very personal story to me. They’ve been fantastic to work with.
2. Ryan, what was your research like to play the character of Nolan Booth? Were you inspired by other famous characters like Indiana Jones?
There was no research. It was mostly us trying to embody our real-life personas to a certain degree. I do have influences from the movies I’ve watched as a kid. Certainly, “Indiana Jones” is a big one. “Thomas Crown Affair”. But no, it’s an action-adventure comedy that’s kind of a swashbuckler. Three heavyweight personalities get together and enjoy that sort of dynamic.
3. What percentage of your character in “Red Notice” do you think could be attributed to you and how much of it was Rawson’s?
Oh, I don’t know the percentage of that. Almost every scene in the movie has some of my lines and some of Rawson’s. But he gave me great architecture and a footprint to work with him. I mean, I always write the lines for every movie I’ve done. That’s always been the case for the last ten years.
4. Audiences are accustomed to seeing you in action comedies. Do you enjoy making them as well?
Oh, yes! It’s a genre I would call home. Yeah, I love being physical. I love the whole aspect of it as I grew up an athlete. I played all the sports and all that kind of stuff. Blending that with comedy which was my other great love as a kid, it’s been a privilege to work in that genre.
Comedy is a very challenging art form and I have a great deal of reverence and respect for it. I think I always will. I’m always trying to grow and learn more. I really do owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who’ve come before me. I grew up watching the Steve Martins. The Eddie Murphys. You know, the John Candys of the world. The Gene Wilders. Peter Sellers. Those are people that have huge influences on me and shaped me in a lot of different ways.
5. The Ryan Reynolds brand of comedy is unmistakable. How similar or different is it from your off-screen persona?
You know, my off-screen persona is really vastly different. I think as a kid and as an adult, I’ve always struggled with anxiety. The sort of fast-talking, hyper-verbal, ironic kind of personality that I’ve manufactured for film really started as a defense mechanism.
When I was younger, when I felt like I was ill-equipped to deal with something, I would sort of have that part of my personality take over and kind of run the show for me. That’s something I’m grateful for. But it’s also something I think at a young age I wish I didn’t need. So, yeah, I think the real me is much, much different than that. I probably listen a lot better than the characters I play as well.
6. With Deadpool, Wonder Woman and Dwayne Johnson, “Red Notice” would feel like a huge superhero crossover for comic book fans. How did you feel when you found out who your co-stars would be and how was the experience working with them?
You know, it’s always interesting, you know, working with larger than life personalities like this and you never know how it’s going to go. Thankfully, we all knew each other. There wasn’t any of that concern. But you know, I’m also a fan of film and movie stars. And, you know, people don’t realise that just because I work in this genre or in this industry where I’ve been for almost 30 years now, I still get excited and geeked out.
7. In an interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Dwayne went on record to say that you ruined many takes while you both were filming “Red Notice”. Did any of those ‘botched’ takes make it into the film itself?
You know, Dwayne and I have known each other for a long time. Generally, we’re always screwing and messing around with each other on set. I would try different quotes or lines, mostly just to make Dwayne laugh or get him to screw up his take. And I was shocked to see how many of those lines stayed in the movie. That was a surprise for me.
8. Now, you’re such good friends with Dwayne and Gal. Was it ever difficult to draw a line between your friendship and maintain a stance of professionalism on the set of “Red Notice”?
No, because we wanted to exploit our personal attachments. That’s what we wanted on camera. When I go to dinner with Dwayne or we’re just hanging out, it’s the same. I’m usually saying something horrible to him and he’s usually finding something horrible to say to me, and we’re laughing about it through dinner. So, that’s what we wanted to put on screen.
9. Dwayne, Gal and you fight each other fiercely in “Red Notice”. Which one of you is the best fighter and which one is the weakest?
Tough question. You know, I would say that it’s a toss up between Dwayne and I as the weakest only because Gal is very elegant, very flexible and clearly has some significant training in this. Now, Dwayne will kill you if he gets his hands on you.
I’m not a fighter. I’m mostly, you know, a bit of a chicken. So, in the movie, you’ll see that I usually try to avoid the fights as much as possible and stick to the stealing… But the thing that I know is that I’m faster than Dwayne. So if I say something that goes a little bit too far, I always know that I can run away.
10. Are there any fun on-set moments that you could share with us?
The first day we were all together, there was one scene. The sequence where we were all in the chapel. In prison. We were only supposed to be there for five hours but it took about ten hours to shoot because we were wasting so much time laughing!
That was both good… and bad. We didn’t want to waste time like that but you could see right away that there was this kind of arcing, beautiful chemistry there. It was pretty amazing to see. That was one of the more fun aspects of shooting the scene.
11. Now, “Red Notice” is a huge blend of action and comedy and has some crazy set pieces along with some moments of pure hilarity. Now, could you tell us which part of “Red Notice” was the most fun to shoot?
Stunts are always fun and exciting to shoot but the stuff I love to shoot is, you know… verbal fighting.
I’ve always been hyper-verbal on camera my whole life. I’m not that way that much in real life. It’s where I go to stay alive, I guess. I love the verbal fighting more than the actual physical stunts. The physical stunts were fun but it’s the verbal stuff that I found more challenging.
12. Would there be a possibility of you working with your wife, Blake Lively, in the future?
Yea, that’s something I would love to do. We’ve talked about it. However, it’s easier said than done. The problem is we try not to work at the same time because we have three young kids. So, if we shot a movie together, we would be sort-of… screwed.
13. Now, here’s a fun lil’ one for ya. If “Red Notice’s” Nolan Booth and John Hartley were pit against “The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s” Michael Bryce and Darius Kincaid in “The Amazing Race”, who would triumph and why?
I would guess [Michael and] Darius Kincaid because that man’s just a stone-cold killer. Michael would be doing everything he could to stop Darius from killing anyone. I would go with that one. Darius for sure. We’re talking conmen and thieves versus actual killers. The killers are gonna win.
14. Well, Ryan, if you were an accomplished art thief like your character, which piece of famous art would you want to get your hands on and why?
Oh, boy. I wouldn’t want to steal it, but if I had to steal a piece of art, this would have to be “The Woman in Gold”, the Gustav Klimt painting. I did a movie about that exact painting years ago with Helen Mirren called “The Woman In Gold”, and that’s a beautiful piece of art. So if I had to steal one, even though I don’t believe in stealing, it would be the art of Gustav Klimt.
15. What about your character’s personality do you love the most?
I love his mischief. I love that he’s a rascal. You can’t ever trust him. I always love a character that you can’t really relax on and stay on edge with. Nolan is a guy that fits that bill.
We also booked a spot with director, Rawson Marshall Thurber, who has a pretty raw-some resume himself, having crafted some memorable laugh-out-loud comedies over the past two decades. Who could forget the time when Vince Vaughn battled Ben Stiller on the Dodgeball arena. Or when he helped usher in the new era of buddy comedies starring The Rock and Kevin Hart…
And of course, who could forget the unlikely pot-smuggling family of The Millers that spawned one of the Internet’s greatest memes!
With “Red Notice” being his third collaboration with Dwayne Johnson after “Central Intelligence” and “Skyscraper”, the director noted that he shared certain sensibilities with the actor. “Entertaining, uplifting, fun, fast, funny, thrilling“: a roll call of adjectives described by the director as what they both had in common in terms of their moviemaking tastes.
We then asked his opinion on “Red Notice” being a potential successor to “We’re The Millers” in terms of its Internet success, to which he replied, “I think time will tell. “We’re The Millers” is probably more of a straight comedy. So, it’s probably more laughs per minute. However, “Red Notice” more than makes up for it by having big spectacle and big action.”
“I think “Red Notice” is the best movie I ever made. I’m very proud of it.”
It’s clear that Rawson felt extremely pleased with his work and at that moment, we couldn’t help but extend a great bear hug across the screen.
Now, Rawson also commented on the themes of the movie, citing the film’s use of art as a commodity as something that is purely subjective and something that is “strictly and truly in the eye of the beholder. When you talk about art, two of the elements that make it so valuable are scarcity and provenance. Of course, scarcity is what makes it unique, but who’s owned it? Who’s touched it?”
When the show drops on Netflix, audiences will be happy to enjoy a surprise cameo from a certain singer-songwriter. When asked about how “that” came to be, Rawson was quick to express his admiration for the musician. “Even from the earliest ideas of the story, my earliest pitching, in my notebook, I wanted [spoiler*] at the end… I sent him a picture of my notebook with his name in it from two years prior and he said: “Absolutely!”
Now, having seen the film, we can safely say that we enjoyed the utter fun that the three leads shared along with the boisterous action and blend of comedy. So, it was only natural for us to end with the million dollar question. Will there be a “Red Notice 2”?, to which Rawson replied with a smile:
“Never. Say. Never.”
Netflix’s “Red Notice” is written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re The Millers, “Central Intelligence”) and stars Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”), Dwayne Johnson (“Jumanji”, “Jungle Cruise”), Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”, “Justice League”), Ritu Arya (“The Umbrella Academy”, “Humans”), and Chris Diamantopoulos (“The Three Stooges”, “Silicon Valley”).
“Red Notice” will be issued on Netflix all around the world this 12th November 2021.