Ryan Reynolds stars in the new psychological sci-fi thriller Self/less, in which his character — who has terminal cancer — makes the decision to try a progressive medical procedure and transfer his consciousness to a younger body in order to live a longer life. That is, until he realizes that getting a new life means taking someone else's.
We sat down with Reynolds to talk about the provocative new film — and everything from the advice he'd give his 16-year-old self to the person who's had the biggest impact on his life. Here's what we learned.
If you had the opportunity to give up everything and everyone you know in order to live an extra 50 years, would you do it?
Ryan Reynolds: Absolutely not. I don’t have that level of hubris that I would wanna kinda, you know, take another trip around. I think we’re given one, and we should make the most of it.
In this film your character sacrifices a lot for his daughter — now that you’re a new father, can you relate to the choices he made in this film?
RR: I can. You know, I think I would be devastated if I didn’t have any kind of discernible relationship with my daughter. That would be worse than death. So, if I were that desperate, I would definitely do something like this, yeah.
If you had to switch lives with another celebrity for the rest of your life, who would you choose?
RR: Tom Hanks. 'Cause who doesn’t love Tom Hanks? Yeah, I would definitely be Tom Hanks. He’s also just the kindest person you’ll ever meet in your life, and [has] a level of talent that should, you know, have him burned at the stake. It’s not fair.
Would you rather live ten 100-year lives, or one 1,000-year life?
RR: GAH! I’m sorry, all of that sounds like hell. None of the above. If I had to choose, I’ll take one straight through 1000 year life.
I’ll be like one of those kids on Twilight, just carrying on forever. Everything in life, I’d much rather just slog through the one thing.
If you had to trade lives with one of the characters you’ve played in the past, which of the following films would you pick: The Green Lantern, The Proposal, or Van Wilder?
RR: Ooooh. I would take The Proposal. I think so, yeah. Just because the character’s kind of level-headed, he’s got his shit together. I think that’s the one I’d take.
Van Wilder is too unpredictable, and the the Green Lantern, I could just not wear that suit again.
Of all the people you have met or worked with in your career, who has been the most influential, or had the biggest impact on your life?
RR: Hmmm, that’s a good question. I think Helen Mirren. I found her to be amazing. The first day I worked with her, we were in a table read and she leans over to me and says, “I’m so fucking nervous!” And I just thought, You’re Helen fucking Mirren! You’re not allowed to be nervous! Get it together! And I just found her so inspiring because I love that she cares about what she does so much. And she has such a body of work behind her and she still shows up with first-day jitters, and I thought that was the most beautiful, poetic thing I’ve ever heard.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would you say to your 16-year-old self and your 21-year-old self?
RR: Oh man. My 16-year-old self, I would probably just give him a massage. He was wound pretty tight. Yeah, I was a nervous kid.
My 21-year-old self, I’d probably say, Be 21. Because when I was 21 I think I thought I was 31. I was always kind of doing the right thing, and it wasn’t until my late twenties that I became just a completely wild asshole. So I should’ve had that out of my system already and I was too busy being a grown-up.
What’s one thing on your bucket list you haven’t been able to do yet that you want to do before you’re 80?
RR: Well, South America. I’ve never spent any real time in South America. I’m actually embarrassed about that. I’ve been all over the world so much and I’ve never been to South America. I would definitely love to see Brazil, that’d be amazing.
What’s your favorite thing to do on set in between filming scenes?
RR: I’m sort of shamelessly addicted to Words With Friends; I play a lot of that. Which is just a gigantic waste of time. I’m pretty good. I can hold my own.