31 "The Adam Project" Behind-The-Scenes Facts That'll Make You Love This Netflix Movie Even More

    Ryan Reynolds improvised a lot of hilarious lines that ended up making the final cut of The Adam Project.

    🚨 Warning: There are MASSIVE spoilers ahead for Netflix's The Adam Project. 🚨

    1. First, before filming began on The Adam Project, director Shawn Levy and writer Jonathan Tropper met with Ryan Reynolds at his home to talk about the tone of the movie and how this time travel action film would perfectly balance humor with emotional moments. One scene they discussed in particular was when the two Adams meet.

    Little Adam and Big Adam looking at each other

    2. Pre-production for the movie ended up happening during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which meant Ryan Reynolds was doing chemistry reads with five potential young Adams over Zoom. The virtual auditions consisted of Ryan improvising with these young actors as they essentially tried to out Ryan the real Ryan Reynolds.

    The two Adams in the woods

    3. Casting director Carmen Cuba auditioned 376 children while searching for the perfect young Adam. She said rather than trying to match Ryan Reynolds' "looks," she was more so looking for someone who could match Ryan's personality. "Even when somebody doesn't look exactly like the person, if they have an energy about them that’s similar, you almost start to believe that they look like them," Carmen explained.

    The two Adams looking up at night in the woods

    4. In fact, Carmen Cuba used Ryan's acting debut in Nickelodeon's Fifteen in the '90s as inspiration for finding an actor to play young Adam. Once she found Walker Scobell, Carmen explained that he "had an energy that was very similar to Ryan's, which is a hard thing to match. It's the sort of a thing that you can’t teach someone how to do."

    A young Ryan Reynolds in a scene from "Fifteen"

    5. Shooting for The Adam Project was pushed back due to COVID-19, which ended up being a blessing in disguise. Walker Scobell wasn't in the first batch of auditions pre-lockdown, but his self-taped audition was received by casting director Carmen Cuba in August 2020. Then, just 18 days later, Walker was cast and began working alongside Ryan Reynolds.

    Walker Scobell during his audition for "The Adam Project"

    6. Even before his audition for The Adam Project, Walker Scobell was obsessed with Ryan Reynolds and was constantly trying to mimic Ryan's inflections and mannerisms. He has seen Deadpool and Deadpool 2 "way too many times," and both movies have been two of his favorites since he was 7 years old.

    Top: The two Adams in the woods looking up; Bottom: Deadpool with a tape recorder

    7. In fact, Walker Scobell can recite one of Deadpool's hilariously R-rated monologues from Deadpool 2, and he proved that he knew every word in front of Ryan Reynolds during filming. Ryan and Shawn Levy have both said they had no idea Walker was such a fan before casting him, and it turned out to be a perfect twist of fate.

    You can also watch Walker do Deadpool's monologue in front of Ryan Reynolds, Shawn Levy, Jennifer Garner, Zoe Saldaña, and Mark Ruffalo below:

    View this video on YouTube

    Entertainment Weekly / Via youtu.be

    8. The movie was in development for "six or seven years" before it ever came to Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy. The acting-directing duo found out about the idea while they were in post-production for Free Guy. Ryan explained that producer David Ellison was so passionate about The Adam Project story that he went to Ryan's apartment to tell him about the idea.

    Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy at an event

    9. The Adam Project is the second collaboration between Shawn Levy and Ryan Reynolds. They also worked together on Free Guy, and Shawn will be directing Ryan again in the upcoming Deadpool 3.

    Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy smiling and looking to the side

    10. The Adam Project also marks the first time Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo have reunited onscreen together since starring in 13 Going on 30 in 2004. Mark described their reunion as "coming home from a long journey," and Jennifer loved that Louis and Ellie's relationship felt like Jenna and Matty, so it ended up feeling like an extension of 13 Going on 30.

    Mark and Jennifer in "13 Going on 30" vs "The Adam Project"

    11. In fact, Shawn Levy and Ryan Reynolds' dream actor to play Louis was Mark Ruffalo, and once he joined, Shawn's wife actually suggested casting Jennifer Garner as Ellie. Of course, Ryan loved the idea of reuniting Jenna and Matty from 13 Going on 30. Jennifer and Mark's shared history also allowed Louis and Ellie's one scene together to be even more emotional because the actors had a shared history and beautiful chemistry already.

    Ellie telling Louis he doesn't have to be perfect, and Louis saying that he loves her

    12. Jennifer Garner signed on to the film without even having read a script. She felt connected to the character of Ellie simply because she's parenting teenage boys at home and loved the idea of a young boy getting advice from his older self. Also, Jennifer said she was "destroyed" on the first phone call after Shawn Levy mentioned the moment when adult Adam gets to talk to his mom.

    Ellie telling Adam she doesn't understand him and asking what's wrong

    13. Walker Scobell said it was "weird" meeting Zoe Saldaña and Mark Ruffalo for the first time because Avengers: Endgame and the MCU movies are some of his favorites. "It was weird not seeing Professor Hulk," Walker explained. After filming on The Adam Project wrapped, Walker said he received a Funko Pop of The Hulk from Mark Ruffalo.

    Top: Ryan Reynolds with Zoe Saldana and Walker Scobell in a car; Bottom: Mark Ruffalo talking to Walker Scobell outside

    14. Ryan Reynolds has called The Adam Project his most personal movie due to the father-son relationship at the heart of the film. "I have a very, very complicated relationship with my father, who is dead," he explained. "I would love to have a conversation with my dad when he was my age and really look him in the eye and see him as the human being that he was, with all of his flaws and all of the things that made him wonderful as well." Ryan also said that while filming, he realized he wasn't mad at his own father "because he was a bad guy or because [he] had screwed up"; he was really mad "because he died."

    Adult Adam telling Louis he should've been more of a dad and it's too late for him, but young Adam still needs him

    15. Ryan Reynolds wrote the heartbreaking and touching scene between adult Adam and Ellie as a tribute to his real-life mom. Director Shawn Levy talked about Ryan writing the scene, saying, "That’s really just an outpouring of Ryan's own feelings about his mom that completely knocks you out." And speaking about filming the moment, Ryan said, "All I had to do was stare at Jen Garner, and everything just kind of locked into place."

    Adult Adam telling Ellie, "Boys always come back for their mamas," and saying he has the best mom

    16. Some moments in the movie were improvised by Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell during filming. One improvised moment was when older Adam meets young Adam for the first time and makes fun of his younger self for not listening. "Sometimes, we would go with ad-libs on the day, but often, when you have the luxury of rehearsal time in advance of the shooting day, those ad-libs come up in rehearsal," Shawn Levy explained. This was the case with this moment.

    Adult Adam telling young Adam, "When I say 'classified,' what does your brain hear? Chocolate?"

    17. Another improvised line from the scene when older Adam and young Adam meet for the first time is when older Adam says, "That's weird. It farts when I cough," when talking about his wound. Director Shawn Levy said that Ryan came up with that line during pre-production and they immediately wrote it into the script. Ryan said throughout the process he would "fire off 10 [alternate versions] to any given joke or moment," and then they would find the one that works best.

    Both Adams thinking adult Adam's gun shot wound is gross

    18. Also, the moment when young Adam covers older Adam's eyes as they are avoiding Sorian and her men was something they came up with on the day of. Walker Scobell explained that the script originally called for him to grab onto the seat, but Shawn Levy had this idea. Walker said he was "too scared" to do it at first, but then Ryan Reynolds grabbed his hands, put them on his face, and told him to pull as hard as he wanted.

    19. The Adam Project was the first movie to use crew members from The Group Effort Initiative. The program was founded and funded by Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, and "exists to create a pipeline for members of the BIPOC and other marginalized communities to get real experience towards a lasting career within the entertainment industry." Ryan explained that a lot of the trainees who helped on The Adam Project have already gone on to other amazing jobs in the industry.

    20. There were only four deleted scenes in total, meaning mostly everything that was filmed made it into the final cut of the movie. Director Shawn Levy said there are two that "are good enough" to "put in the world," and he's working with Netflix now to approve those being released for fans.

    Shawn Levy and Ryan Reynolds talking on set with masks on

    21. One of the four deleted scenes features a sweet moment between Mark Ruffalo and Ryan Reynolds, where Louis tells adult Adam, "Look, somewhere between the villain that you think I am and the hero that young you thinks I am, there's the real guy. I'm neither, and I'm just a guy doing the best I can." While Shawn Levy considers it one of his "favorites," it worked better as a stand-alone scene and wasn't necessary for the overall film.

    Louis telling adult Adam that he's proud of him

    22. Ellie and Adam's house isn't actually a real home. It was built on a soundstage in Vancouver in just two months. Production designer Claude Paré explained that it was easier to build the house instead of scout a real location since so much of the film takes place at night. This made it so the cast and crew could film some of the night scenes during the day. Also, this allowed Paré and his team to design the house exactly as they wanted, like how they created a very cinematic and open floor plan.

    The outside of the house and a shot of Walker Scobell and Jennifer Garner inside it

    23. In fact, in order to get the feeling that the house was in the woods — when in reality it was built on a stage — Claude Paré and his crew designed and built "something like 20 [to] 25 tree trunks, about 20 feet high." This gave the kitchen and living room a "warm" feeling, since you could see the foliage right up against the windows.

    Adam Scobell eating pizza in the house and him and Jennifer Garner talking

    24. Shawn Levy and his props teams worked extensively on the design for Adam's Sorian MAG/CYL weapon — you know, the one young Adam thinks is a lightsaber — because he was worried about a lawsuit from LucasFilms and/or Disney if it looked too much like a Star Wars lightsaber with a beam of light. Shawn and Ryan Reynolds said they didn't have to ask permission to say "lightsaber" since it was such a natural reaction from a kid, and they joked that they want to save all of their big Star Wars favors for a future Free Guy movie.

    Adult Adam using his MAG and young Adam saying, "That's a lightsaber, dude"

    25. Originally, Laura and Adam's scenes at the cabin were supposed to be filmed on two different days. However, as they were wrapping on the first day, Shawn Levy, Ryan Reynolds, and Zoe Saldaña decided to shoot the emotional goodbye just as the sun was setting and they were losing daylight. Zoe explained it as a moment of "adrenaline," where they felt a sense of urgency to film the scene right then.

    Laura telling Adam he has to stop time travel from being invented and she believes they will find each other again

    26. Since some of the more futuristic sets combined practical sets and visual effects, the VFX team created what Shawn Levy hilariously called "the magic iPad," which allowed Shawn to see what the visual effects would look like while they were actually filming on set. "It's really opened up shot design possibilities in a real way and from angles that I can't even get to," Shawn explained.

    The VFX iPad and people on set looking at it

    27. Since the cast is filled with actors who have worked on other action movies before — like Ryan Reynolds, Zoe Saldaña, and Mark Ruffalo — they did a lot of their own stunts. In order to achieve this, the stunts were choreographed in long sections so the actors could do as much as possible before a stunt double had to be used.

    Ryan Reynolds doing stunts on set

    28. Walker Scobell hilariously said that the hardest thing he had to do in The Adam Project was catch a baseball. "They should've put baseball lessons in the contract," he joked. Ryan Reynolds said Walker had the hardest time catching a baseball even though he's a very athletic kid and did a lot of other stunts in the movie.

    Walker Scobell and two men outside a cabin throwing a baseball

    29. While filming, Ryan Reynolds would spend his downtime coaching and helping Walker Scobell, since this was his first acting job ever. Walker explained that Ryan gave him great life advice and helped him prepare for "difficult line readings" before shooting. "[Ryan] told me to keep my head screwed on tight," Walker recalled. "He taught me a bunch of things."

    30. In fact, even after Ryan Reynolds wrapped, he was still helping Walker Scobell on set. Jennifer Garner recalled filming scenes with Walker where he would talk to Ryan for a while to make sure he got a line reading perfect. "There were times where [Walker] was like, 'I don't know exactly how this would roll off of Ryan's mouth,'" Jennifer explained. "So they would FaceTime Shawn [Levy] and Walker would call Ryan, who would literally have kids crawling all over, and he's like, 'What is it, buddy? What is it?' So they would go back and forth until they found a read that felt real to Walker but felt like it would be Ryan's."

    Ryan Reynolds crouching down and Walker Scobell smiling at him

    31. And finally, Walker Scobell said while filming his first movie was scary at times, what made it incredible was being surrounded by such a welcoming cast and crew. "Just being with all of these really great actors and stuff...I was a little scared and overwhelmed when I first met them, but they're very nice," Walker began. "It makes you feel like you're with your family every day."

    The cast of "The Adam Project" with director Shawn Levy

    The Adam Project is streaming now on Netflix.