Reynolds is the perfect guy as Matt Weston in Safehouse, producer Scott Stuber recalls: “We had to be certain that the actor opposite Denzel would be ready. I’ve known Ryan for a long time and was sure that he would step up to that challenge. More importantly, he wanted such a challenge.”
Reynolds explains his interest in joining the team: “First and foremost, I was riveted by the story. It was also an opportunity to work with Daniel, who is an unusual and unpredictable filmmaker. He is unlike anyone I’ve ever worked with, or even met before. He’s this incredibly wise, intuitive, intellectual thug. It’s a weird combination that gives him this incredible street sense. He’s a guy who could easily be in a bar fight, and at the same time, if you name any book, there’s a good chance he’s read it—among the plusses, not the least of which was working with Denzel. You know you will learn a lot working with Denzel: Spending time with him makes you a better actor.”
The actor found the duality of Weston’s life—the housekeeper’s cover is that he is a health worker—compelling. He says, “I was fascinated by the fact that my character lives a complete lie. He’s lying to himself and wraps himself up in the flag. There’s a lot of hubris involved. He feels what he’s doing is righteous, and yet, there’s a dark, seedy underbelly to what he does—not the least of which is the fact that he lies to everyone he loves, and that takes its toll. He’s beaten up from this.”
Reynolds explains his character’s transformation: “Matt’s growth is debatable. In some ways, it’s almost a regression. Throughout the course of the film, he’s resorting to some of the same ways he’s previously despised. The audience’s concern as we’re watching is that Matt might be affected by Frost in the same way that Frost was swayed by whoever it was who caused him to go off book. One of the things that Frost does is reveal to Matt what this agency really is, how some of the black ops that it engages in are in the guise of a higher good. It affects Matt deeply, and he’s seeing how this could easily become him one day. Whether that’s growth or not, he’s definitely changed.”
Washington saw that growth in the man playing Weston and found Reynolds a worthy on-screen adversary. The performer compliments: “Ryan is a very good actor who works very hard, and we had good chemistry. He has an inherent innocence that I think was right for the part.”
Q & A with Ryan Reynolds
How did you come to this film?
I read the script and loved it. Then I met with Daniel Espinosa. I had seen SNABBA CASH, which he directed, and I thought it was incredibly inventive. It was a really interesting take on the action/crime thriller and I thought Daniel would be a great match for this project. I usually gravitate first towards a character and then towards the overall story. I liked that there is this hubris associated with these guys who enter agencies like the CIA thinking that it’s some romantic journey into a love of God and country. Then once they are involved, it is actually incredibly disillusioning.
What’s your character’s relationship to Denzel’s character?
Frost (Denzel’s character) represents everything my character, Matt Weston, despises. He’s betrayed his country and his own personal code of ethics in innumerable ways. Although my character opposes everything Frost stands for, by the end of the film we’re left wondering if Matt is going that same route.
Have you had a lot of action scenes?
The fights in this movie are really long and extensive. They’re not kung fu or the typical fight scenes that you see in this sort of film. These fights are just ugly. There’s biting and head-butting. The driving is pretty intense, as well.
How have you found working with director Daniel Espinosa?
Daniel is amazing. He embodies the aspects of a great psycho-analyst that all good directors have and he is very good with actors. He sees everything. Nothing gets by him.
Released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corp., “Safehouse” is set to open in Philippine theaters nationwide on February 10, 2012.