JoBlo meets Van Wilder
not every day that a Hollywood "celeb" comes sliding through
my own fair city of Montreal, Canada for a promotional campaign (even
though there are like a zillion movies shooting here every day), but a
couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to sit with a fellow Canuck
who is about to launch onto the world in his big-movie starring debut
as Van Wilder, in (you guessed it!), NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VAN
His name: Ryan Reynolds. Some of you may know him as the character of
"Berg" from TV's "Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza
Place", but otherwise, this is definitely the major break that
will either set the dude on the map, or.....well, not.
Now I'm not sure if I've
just been lucky up till now with my actor interviews, but they all
seem to come off as genuinely decent folk (then again, they are
"actors", dumb-dumb!). I got to spend quite a bit of time
one-on-one with Ryan, and the dude really seemed to enjoy what he does
and proved to be extremely ambitious (if you thought that his only
involvement in the film was as the lead (which is what I thought),
think again and read the interview below). As a person, Ryan was
well-spoken, funny and just an all around decent guy. He even quit
acting a few years back and worked at a grocery store, for God's
sakes!! (see more below) Anyway, you probably don't want to hear me
babbling any longer, but suffice it to say, it was a fun interview and
the man was cool enough to take a picture with my sorry ass (as well
as the rest of my body), which is always slick. Oh yeah, he also
carrrrrrrries the movie, which opens nationwide this coming Friday,
April 5th, 2002.
Reynolds: Hey...what's your real name?
Ryan: Berge…what kind of name is that?
JoBlo: It's Armenian, although I was born in Holland…
Ryan: So you like good food
JoBlo: Yeah, baby!
Ryan: Alright, sorry
about that...whatcha got?
DO YOU COME FROM?
JoBlo: You've probably already heard this a zillion times before, but for folks on the site who aren't aware of you…how did you start off in this biz? Was it a long time dream? Luck?
Ryan: Funny you should ask...
Ryan: I started off when I was 13, a television show came to town (Vancouver, Canada) and they were doing a cattle call, which means that anyone and everyone can come along, and try out for the show.
They also went to each high school and said, pick your four best drama students. And I didn't get picked, so I, for some reason, thought that I could shake the system up a little, so I rolled down there, showed up and there were probably about 2000-3000 kids there, and I started the audition process which lasted about four days until it was narrowed down until about 5 guys for my role and then 4, then 3, then 2 and then just me. So I got it, and then left school for Florida for three years to do that show.
JoBlo: So did you always want to be an actor?
Ryan: No, it was funny because there were never any real signs early on, I mean, even my parents were like "where did this come from?" In fact, I don't really know where it came from, I just thought I could do it, I didn't really want to do it, I just thought
that I could do it. So I did that, and lived in Florida for about three years, and then stopped acting after that. I finished school and went about my normal, every day life and then I got into improv comedy…went to Los Angeles…
JoBlo: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that, since you're kind of the "funny guy" in the movie--
JoBlo: Have you done any stand-up comedy?
Ryan: I've done stand-up but not on a regular tour or anything. I have so much respect for those guys, I don't know how they do it. I used to do warm-up for a TV show that I was on, "Two Girls and a Guy"--
JoBlo: And a Pizza!
Ryan: Yeah, exactly. I was one of the guys on the show first, and then they asked me if I would do the warm-ups for the audiences. So I guess that was stand-up in a way, you get up each night and try a different bit. But as far an actual stand-up goes…no.
JoBlo: Alright, well you're Canadian as we know…
JoBlo: I was just wondering that as a Canuck, was it important for you to break into the American market or did you just not care, I mean, wherever you got the
part...you got the part?
Ryan: A lot of people leave Canada for a number of reasons that we probably don't even need to get into here but there isn't a
huge -- it's such an ugly and terrible word, but -- "star system" here, which is a terrible thing, but it's also the means to an end. It allows you to do the work that you want to do and in Canada, I was obviously not going to find a lot of work in comedy. Some of the funniest people come from Canada, but there's just no industry that seems to support that so, yeah, I felt like I had to go down to L.A., so that I could do the work that I wanted to do, and it was true, I did.
JoBlo: And what kind of advice would you give other Canadian actors just starting off in the biz?
Ryan: Well, Canada has a phenomenal
and burgeoning film industry, I mean, it seems like it's taking off more and more these days. Recently, there was this film MEN WITH BROOMS, which is a Canadian film but it seems to be getting promo-ed the way a U.S. film would. I enjoy seeing that, that's a big step forward, I think. As for advice for other Canadian actors, were in a country with various cities, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, to name a few, that have their own film industry, even Halifax,
so we're really lucky to be a part of that and have that in our country.
As opposed to the United States, for example, if you like in Kentucky, you're kind of shit out of luck if you want to get into film or television without actually moving to either New York or L.A. Also, over there, you're like a small fish in a big pond, as opposed to here, where you have a lot more "ins" and I think it's just a matter of sticking with it. The hardest part for me wasn't getting into the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, it was actually moving to L.A. That was the hardest thing…taking that first step. It takes a lot of courage and maybe some stupidity at the same time.
JoBlo: Had you sort of given up on everything else when you took your shot at the bright lights of L.A.?
Ryan: No, I mean, I feel like I'm still too young to be at an exasperated stage where I'm like "I'm tired of doing this", I mean, it wasn't that, I just felt like I could spread my wings and fly and lot easier in L.A. Like for me to do the work that I wanted to do, ironically enough, it was easier to just go to L.A., than to do it from Vancouver. In Vancouver, I'm gonna get a lot of work in TV movies of the week, but I'm not interested in doing those.
JoBlo: You did a few of those though, right?
Ryan: Exactly, which is why I learned from experience that I had no interest in pursuing that, so I got the hell out of there and went down to L.A. and it seemed to work out for me.
JoBlo: You quit acting at one point. I think it was after your stint in Florida. What happened there?
Ryan: No reason really. At that time, acting wasn't something that I necessarily wanted to do, it was just something that I
could do. Part me felt like there are so many people out there who would likely cut off their right arm to do this, and here I am, sort of hemming and hawing, being pretty ambiguous about the whole thing. So I felt like I was just gonna go and do normal things. So I worked in a grocery store from midnight to 8am for about a year or so, just sort of getting by, like anyone else would. And it wasn't until I felt like I really wanted to be in that industry and to really pursue
JoBlo: That you came back and got back into the game…
Ryan: Yeah, that's kind of what inspired me to do it. Of course, as soon as you want to do something, that's when it gets hard.
Ryan: So that's when it got hard for me and I sort of switched gears into comedy.
LAMPOON'S VAN WILDER
JoBlo: Alright, let's get into VAN WILDER. Incidentally, I already saw the picture and I thought you were really good in it…
Ryan: Oh, thank you very much.
JoBlo: In fact, the few reviews that I have read of the film on the Net, they all seem to point you out as the highlight…
Ryan: Oh, that's cool…cool…
JoBlo: So how did you get the part?
Ryan: Well, I had done another movie called BUYING THE COW, which ironically is coming out after this.
JoBlo: Same director, right?
Ryan: Yeah, same guy, Walt Becker. They initially got the script and approached me with it. Apparently, the producers had seen BUYING THE COW and said, "that's our man!" And the studio sort of felt like "who's this guy?", he doesn't have "box-office" or anything, we need someone who could sell. Enter Tara Reid. So it kind of worked out well because they felt as though they could sell the movie to Japan and England and all those different places because of Tara Reid…
JoBlo: As long as they had the one "name" actor…
Ryan: Yeah, as long as they had one, they could
sell all the foreign, they could take care of that, and then the studio went "okay, this guy is the perfect Van, so let's do it!" But initially when I read the script, it wasn't anything that I was really interested in because it was these broad set pieces. Then they rewrote it and I couldn't believe that it was the same script, like a FERRIS BUELLER for the 21st century. It was everything that I wanted to do.
JoBlo: Yup, I compared it to Ferris in my review…
Ryan: Yeah, Walt Becker said that he wasn't doing it without me, and I said that I wasn't doing it without him, so it worked out really well, and the studio said "okay, let's get you guys together and let's do it". So Walt and I went through the script, line by line, word by word…
JoBlo: Wow, really? So you were quite involved in the process?
Ryan: Yeah, it was great for me, since I'm a workaholic and the more, the merrier. So for about a month before shooting, Walt and I would meet every day, went through the script and sort of picked our beads. I picked the battles that I thought were worth fighting for. Of course, the movie's not CITIZEN KANE, but it involves a lot of work at the same time, I mean, just to go through it and be meticulous about the whole thing.
Especially with comedy, because it is a lot like music, you have to have a certain rhythm with it, you can't just go off the deep end in each scene, because you will lose your audience really fast, they just sort of take you for granted. So that was my challenge in the movie and Walt was incredible that way too, we went right through the whole film and even edited it together too. Needless to say, I'm really close to the movie. Which is what makes it even cooler to see with an audience.
JoBlo: Oh, you've seen it with audiences already?
Ryan: I've seen it twice with audiences that didn't know that I was there. And it was just like--- let's put it this
way -- if the movie never gets shown again after this, I could care less, just because seeing that reaction from the audiences was worth it. I mean, something that I worked so hard on, it's amazing to see people just flipping out in the audience and really laughing at all the right places, and then some. It was pretty special to see that.
JoBlo: That's cool. What about any background research for your role…were there any particular influences for you in this movie?
Ryan: National Lampoon has always been a "brand" of humor that I've appreciated, with Chevy Chase and VACATION, ANIMAL HOUSE and those kinds of movies, I thought that they were pioneers in their own right. At the time, I think that those movies were looked upon as--
Ryan: -- goofy big comedies, but it's funny that until this day we still revisit them all the time and they hold up perfectly. It's sort of like watching CARRIE now, it's what broke the mold and made the new mold, it's pretty impressive to see. What's cool about this movie is that it basically incorporates both factors, it involves the new wave of young comedy which is like a bar set by say an AMERICAN PIE, gross-out
stuff -- although I think we set a new bar for "disgusting" in this
film -- but at the same time, I think we harp back to that National Lampoon, FERRIS BUELLER kind of style. Where you really set your roots in character.
Now this might sound like I'm giving you a bunch of humble bullshit, but if it wasn't for the supporting cast in this movie, the movie would just not be the same. Taj
(played by Kal Penn), this other guy, Daniel Cosgrove, who plays the nasty fraternity dude, I thought that he did such an amazing job, since it's so hard to do that job. I mean, he probably won't get any kudos because he does the "dick" thing so well, but he really does a great job--
JoBlo: So he's not a "dick" in real life…? <laughing>
Ryan: Not at all, in fact, it's really amazing to see their performances, I mean, those guys just put their balls on the line with this movie. Daniel Crosgrove especially, should be pointed out because eating a shit-burger every day is really hard to do. And he really did
that: "showed his ass", is an old stage term that says it as well.
We also had all these other guys in the film from these 80s films. Or even AMERICAN PIE. Tim Matheson…
JoBlo: Yeah, I noticed the secretary from FERRIS BUELLER at the beginning of the film…
Ryan: Edie McGlurg. And Paul
Gleason from THE BREAKFAST CLUB and Curtis Armstrong from REVENGE OF THE NERDS, they're all in there for a reason, but we never comment on the fact that they're there. We never wink at the camera and say "this is the guy from…", but they're just there on purpose, just sort of staples, which I think is cool to see.
JoBlo: Cool. And how was the actual shoot itself? I guess you were working pretty close with the director…
Ryan: Yeah, it was fun, I mean, it was a lot of work at the same time, but we were doing 12-14 hour days, like any other film…
JoBlo: Shot in Vancouver, right?
Ryan: No, shot in L.A. Everyone thinks that it was shot in Vancouver, it's so funny. I think that's on the websites or something like that. But no, we shot at UCLA. Initially, it was going to be shot in Vancouver but I'm glad it wasn't, even though I live there. Basically, we wouldn't have been able to get all of those people cast if we shot it there. So it was kind of a tough shoot, with 14 hours days, which Walt and I would follow up with a meeting a bar or something, and talk about tomorrow.
JoBlo: So you were really quite involved here? I mean, it wasn't like one of those acting "jobs" where you just do your work and then go back to the trailer?
Ryan: Yeah, it wasn't like a "punch in and punch out" type of thing for me. In fact, I was never in my trailer. Even if I wasn't in some scenes, I would be out there watching it the whole time too, because it's important to know what they're doing as well, so that I could get a sense of the pace. I also reread the script every couple of days. I mean, when you're doing television, you're doing it all in order and at once, but in a film, you're pretty much shooting out of order, and you also want to know exactly where you are and what you've done. So the discipline of going through the script again, word by word, kind of gets you back on track.
JoBlo: Any interesting set stories that you want to share with the rest of the world?
Ryan: There were lots. I mean, there's the opening scene where I'm trying to talk the kid down from the roof and I'm not wearing pants.
JoBlo: Oh yeah, I forgot about that one…
Ryan: That scene was kind of funny because when we were shooting that, obviously the camera crew and everyone was behind me so that you don't see the frontal view, but I was still standing at the edge of a
JoBlo: Oh, so you were really naked, eh? No ski-colored undies or anything?
Ryan: Nope, there was
really nothing going on there. So at that exact time, there was a tour going at the base of the building, I'll never forget. The worst part was that it wasn't just a regular tour, it was a bus filled with 10-year old kids.
It was just brutal. I mean, I'm just standing there naked at the edge of the building and the kids are all looking up and pointing at me. So I'm trying to tell the director, "hey guys, there appears to be a tour of 10-year old children staring at my package right now…let's call cut."
That was definitely one of those odder moments.
Tara Reid, who I'm pretty sure was working on AMERICAN PIE 2 at the same time as our film, was pretty tired near the end of the shoot, and had said something like "I'm so tired of seeing all of you guys" jokingly, one day, as she was working 14-hour days with us and then going over to shoot
PIE 2. So, Jon Komack Martin, who's one of the producers and I, wallpapered her entire dressing room with our pictures.
Ryan: I mean, literally like floor to ceiling, inside her toilet, I'm talking about everywhere! That was kind of fun too.
JoBlo: Yeah, Tara Reid….how was that?
Ryan: <laughs> Yeah, what's with that?
JoBlo: So how was she?
Ryan: Oh, she's great…Tara's great, she's like a pop-culture icon, you know. I mean, you hear in the news that she's got this "party girl" thing going, but I was nothing but impressed with her. I mean, I'm a "don't fuck with my work ethic" type of person. That's all I care about. You know, be on time, know your lines…we're all being paid a lot of money to be here, and she was exactly the same. It was great. She would show up, ready to go, twenty minutes early every day, have all her lines memorized, and that's pretty much all that you could ask from a co-star…
JoBlo: And she's really pretty!! <laughs>
Ryan: A beautiful girl, I mean, yeah, that's actually pretty rare, I mean there's something to be said about that. Especially with the young "Hollywood" nowadays, it seems like it's a bunch of ambiguous slackers hanging out and getting stoned all day, but it's not, it really isn't. It's a lot of people who work really hard and are really professional.
JoBlo: You guys changed the title. It used to be VAN WILDER: PARTY LIAISON, and now it's NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VAN WILDER. Was that so that you could include the NATIONAL LAMPOON?
Ryan: Yeah, it was either National Lampoon or National Geographic, we weren't sure which one. I'm pretty sure that we made the right choice there. I mean, you're not going to say "no" when National Lampoon wants to get involved with your movie.
JoBlo: <laughs> And had you been to college before this movie?
Ryan: I actually spent about six months in college in Vancouver. Everyone thinks I'm lying when I say this but I was studying "socialist feminism"--
JoBlo: You're lying.
Ryan: And U.S. History…it's true! To pick up girls in bars <laughs>.
JoBlo: Alright, a couple of quickies left. Was there any specific scene that was harder to shoot in this film? I mean, you do take part in one scene in which a much, much older woman (a grandma, really) attempts to seduce you.
Ryan: Yeah, that was naughty stuff. That scene was hard to shoot, I mean, no offense to her, of course, but I would be remiss in saying that it wasn't. It wasn't the most pleasant thing. I mean, yeah, she's a very, very mature 70-year old woman that I'm making out with, and that's tough to do. But ironically, I don't think that was the hardest scene to shoot. The
shot that I probably had the most trouble shooting was the opening scene with a woman named Sook-Me…she was the Asian tailor.
JoBlo: Yeah, yeah…we see some of that in the outtakes at the end of the film, right?
Ryan: Yeah, I just couldn't get my shit together. I couldn't stop laughing, I mean, I really had to call about ten time-outs. I don't know what the deal was exactly…something about her face…
JoBlo: Were you hearing the sucking noises as well?
Ryan: Yeah, I was hearing all of that and on top of that, none of it was scripted so I kept trying out different lines, which I think they ended up with "you're a pro", but I kept saying as many things as I possibly could, and then they used one of them. But some of the things that I was saying were terrible by the end, which is why I probably couldn't stop laughing.
JoBlo: And one of the more obvious questions for a movie
like this…are plans for a sequel already in the works, any scripts…are you all just going to see how it goes?
Ryan: Yeah, we are definitely going to see how it goes first. But I think they have pretty high hopes for the movie doing well. As for the sequel, yeah, they have already come to me with a sequel…
JoBlo: Has the script been written yet or is it still in the works?
Ryan: No, there's an "idea". I think, uh…well, I think…I can't even think about that right now. But there's definitely an idea, but at this point, I guess it's still just
JoBlo: And one more question about the film. Any DVD talk already? Have you guys discussed what you might want to include on it?
Ryan: Yeah, there's gonna be a commentary…
JoBlo: Oh yeah, are you going to be on it?
Ryan: Oh yeah, definitely. Walt and myself are going to do it, talk about every scene. I think it'll actually be really funny as well, I mean, it's a great way to go through the movie, as a fan, and get more info and…
JoBlo: More outtakes?
Ryan: Yeah, yeah…there will definitely be more outtakes and lots of stuff.
JoBlo: Well, I think that's it for
the interview. Thanks a lot for your time...
Ryan: Thank you!
JoBlo: And lots of luck with the
Ryan: Thanks. So
when will this interview be on the site?
JoBlo: Probably around the time that
the movie opens (so if you're reading this now, Ryan...."Hey,
And with that, we shook hands, he grabbed my ass
and we called it a day (all true except for that "ass"
thing). Anyway, a cool dude overall and you can all go see him this
coming Friday in NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VAN
out the official VAN WILDER WEBSITE here
JoBlo.com Interviews here