[SPOILER WARNING: Minor “R.I.P.D.” plot spoilers are ahead.]
The Rest in Peace Department protects the living from the dead — or, more accurately, from the “Deados,” renegade spirits who resist moving on into the afterlife. Right at the heart of that protection effort is Roy Pulsipher, a gunslinging legend from the Wild West who was shot and betrayed long ago, left for dead in the desert, his body picked apart in unmentionably cruel and vulgar ways by coyotes and buzzards alike.
Because of that fatal experience, Roy doesn’t like to take on partners. But he’s left with no choice when he’s saddled up with Nick Walker, a recently deceased detective. Despite several years of experience as a police officer, Nick doesn’t have the first clue on how to take down Deados — and his inexperience rubs Roy the wrong way, to put it mildly.
Even though Roy and Nick aren’t the fastest of friends, the actors behind these characters — Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges and former “Green Lantern” star Ryan Reynolds — got along famously while shooting Universal Pictures’ upcoming “R.I.P.D.,” director Robert Schwentke’s adaptation of Peter M. Lenkov’s Dark Horse comic book.
“We enjoyed each other off the bat,” Bridges told Comic Book Resources during our exclusive interview with the “R.I.P.D.” cast, adding that he and Reynolds would kill time on set by playing games like Pass the Pigs, and reading books like William Kotzwinkle’s “The Fan Man.”
“We read a couple of books on set,” Reynolds added. “I’d read a chapter aloud, and he’d read a chapter aloud. I’m not even joking; that’s what we were doing on set all day.”
Mary-Louise Parker can attest to the friendly working relationship between Reynolds and Bridges. She stars in the movie as Proctor, the tough-as-nails superior officer at R.I.P.D. with zero tolerance for Roy and Nick’s contentiousness. In reality, Parker has nothing but kind words for her co-stars.
“They’re both so lovely and so different,” she said. “They both work really, really hard. And they have very different processes. They’re both very committed and they’re sort of ideal, awesome men. I think there are three other ones on the planet. They’re sort of amazing.”
The playful dynamic between all three actors is never more evident than in a scene toward the end of the movie that reveals Proctor’s true feelings for Roy. The two have a romantic history together, and Proctor makes her current feelings known by “billy-goating” Roy — biting and tugging at his beard with her mouth, in layman’s terms.
“I just found out five minutes ago that it’s even in the movie,” Parker said about that scene. “It was one of those choices that I made that I just assumed would never see the light of day. I didn’t ask, because I didn’t think they’d use it. We were doing another take and I said, ‘What about this or that?’ And Robert said, ‘Try something different.'”
She certainly tried something different. Bridges and Reynolds were both stunned by Parker’s choice on the day of shooting, in a good way.
“I’m glad [the beard] was a real one and it didn’t come off in her mouth,” Bridges laughed. “But she was wonderful to work with. She stayed so fresh, and improvisation is always great, when acting can catch something real like that.”
Bridges’ beard is not the weirdest object to enter an actor’s mouth in “R.I.P.D.,” believe it or not. In the mythology of the movie, Deados have a truly bizarre weakness: Indian food. The spices irritate their mortal flesh, causing the spirits to reveal themselves in all of their true monstrous glory. During one of Roy and Nick’s first outings together, the two bring Indian food to a suspected Deado, using it as a “tactical” tool. Roy plops down in front of the suspect and shoves fork-full after fork-full of chicken vindaloo into his mouth, spraying bits of the meal all over the table and the camera. It’s tough to watch -Â but apparently, it wasn’t tough to film.
“Oh, I love Indian food. I love me some good Indian food, man,” said Bridges. “It was not bad. It was good Indian food, actually.”
“Eating in movies, people don’t realize that that’s the biggest stunt of all,” added Reynolds. “When you see someone eat and swallow the food, you know that guy did six different versions of coverage and swallowed each time.”
Eating mountains and mountains of Indian food could become a regular occurrence for Bridges, Reynolds and Parker, if “R.I.P.D.” is a hit and warrants a sequel. All three of the actors revealed that they’re up for the challenge of returning to the world of undead detectives and Deados, should the occasion arise.
“It would be fun,” said Bridges. “If it’s a hit, it might happen. It would be great to play with Ryan some more. It would be wonderful.”
Parker agreed, adding further praise for “R.I.P.D.” screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. “I think the writers who wrote this are incredibly gifted,” she said. “I don’t get the chance to say that often, so it’s nice. I never had to go off text. I wasn’t having to do mental gymnastics to justify things. They’re really sharp. I’d love to see them do more. I’d love to do another one.”
It’s a busy weekend coming up for Parker, however. Not only is “R.I.P.D.” hitting theaters, but so is “RED 2,” her sequel to the 2010 action-comedy about retired and extremely dangerous spies. CBR News spoke with Parker earlier in the month about her work on the “RED” sequel, and during that conversation, a startling fact came to light: while on set, Bruce Willis shot a bee to protect Parker from getting stung. As it turns out, that wasn’t just an off-handed joke. It actually happened.
“Bruce shot a bee. He sure did,” she reconfirmed during our latest chat. “It’s become sort of dream-like in my mind, because it was so surreal. But he verified it. He’s pretty manly. He’s Bruce Willis. He can do that sort of thing. That’s how awesome he is.”
Whether it’s through the bee-free “RED 2” or the ghost-hunting “R.I.P.D.,” you can get your fair share of Parker this weekend when both movies hit theaters.