All that crazy, profane smack talk that came out of Wade Wilson’s fully face-masked mouth in “Deadpool?” Blame (or thank) screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to thank for the delirious rewindability of the film’s fast and furious one-liners (plus an assortment of zingers provided on set by star Ryan Reynolds).
Already deep in sequel mode, having diligently begun work on the follow-up in advance of the official studio greenlight, the “Zombieland” scribes were on hand for a press roundtable to promote the May 10 home video release of “Deadpool.” Just days before the sequel became official at Fox, Reese and Wernick offered some revealing insights into their experiences both making the film and in the aftermath of its runaway success.
A lot of people are speculating about what the “Deadpool” effect — the huge success of an R-rated superhero film — means for similar movies going forward.
Rhett Reese: It’s a little intimidating. I think it’s missing the point, which is that I think if you could attribute “Deadpool’s” success to anything, it’s that we weren’t looking to any prior project to validate what we were doing or to follow in anyone’s footsteps. We were just just churning our own path.
So I would hope that the “Deadpool” effect would be merely to get people more excited about following original voices and going down original paths, as opposed to trying to figure out what about our movie succeeded so they could then apply to theirs.
Paul Wernick: Yeah, it’s like we’re hearing people who want to “‘Deadpool’ it up.” We feel like that’s…
Reese: That’s the kiss of death.
Wernick: The recipe for disaster.
Reese: Again, I really feel like if our success is mostly attributable to the fact that we didn’t look at any previous movie to make any calculation. We weren’t mercenary, we were just in love with this silly character, and we just chased it.
Do you want to keep your feet planted in Deadpool’s world after the success of this? Or is it the “X-Men” movie universe you want to explore? Or something else, perhaps?
Reese: Well, certainly both. We’re writing the sequel, so that’s ongoing. We would very much like to be a part of whatever this character is a part of moving forward. So I think that’s certainly in our heads.
But we also have another career on the side that’s independent of Deadpool. We’ve got a movie hopefully — knock wood — shooting this summer in London. A very different [movie], and we’ve got a number of other projects that are different, for different reasons.
Wernick: We just love the character so much. It’s the most fun character we’ve ever written. Interestingly, the easiest character we’ve ever written. Because I think he is the most fun to write, so it’s such a pleasure to sit down at the keyboard, that we would like to live with him for a very long time.
How far are you guys on the sequel script? Do you have a draft finished?
Reese: We’re in process, is I think the only thing we’re allowed to say. They try not to divulge too much on details like that because they people start to anticipate, if the script came in here, then it’s going to be delivered here, and then the release date would be here. And Fox is not keen on all the speculation. Anyway, we’re in process.
We are writing, we’re hard at work, and it’s been a lot of fun. So we really enjoy doing it.
You really had the element of surprise with this movie. You did a lot of things that were completely fresh, beyond the R-rating. For the sequel, how are you going to recapture that freshness? What’s going to surprise audiences a second time, now that we’ve sort of seen what Deadpool is all about?
Reese: Well, I guess I would say the joy in the details is what I love about watching the first movie. The fact that Blind Al’s building IKEA furniture. The fact that Angel Dust has a matchstick in her mouth, and that plays a big part of the plot. We just find that these little details and personality quirks of the characters are what inspire us the most.
So whether it’s Deadpool, the people surrounding him, new characters, I think we’re always looking for that relatable personality quirk that makes us see ourselves in the characters. I think if it has that breath of originality and quirkiness and personality, it will stay true to the overall vision for the series.
We know that you guys got a list of characters you could use in the first film, has that list expanded now that “Deadpool” is so huge?
Wernick: No, I mean, the list is the list. That’s what Fox owns in their deal with Marvel. We’ve been give a little more free reign in terms of like the access to that list, in terms of Simon Kinberg, who’s the keeper of the universe, has said, “whatever, whoever you want to use, we’ll figure it out.” That’s pretty great for us and pretty freeing.
How deep a dive have you done into the source material to sift around looking for plot threads you might incorporate in another script, or characters that resonate with you?
Wernick: Yeah, we dive deep, but then we set the comics aside. That’s what we did on the first one. We dove deep. We read all the runs and then set them all aside and really just mined the tone and the texture and feel of the character and his world. So that’s what I think we’ll do for the sequel as well.
You guys have said that there were many incarnations of this script. You’ve said that at one point there was a PG-13 version.
Reese: That’s true.
Can you give any specific examples of how that version was different than the finished film?
Wernick: Yeah, I mean, interestingly it was very similar. The plot was similar. It was a revenge movie. It was an origin story. We removed all the swear words. We dialed down the sex stuff. But it kept pretty true to the character and the tone of the R-rated version, minus some of the more adult content.
Reese: Our mandate was to keep it as close as it could be and make it PG-13. So I think we changed Vanessa to working in a Hooters or something like that instead of a strip club. It was details. We weren’t trying to mess with the whole thing.
I think that’s why when you read it, it’s not as appalling as you might think, as a hardcore “Deadpool” fan. I think it would have worked at PG-13, just not quite as well. So we’re glad we got to do it at R, but the PG-13 version, you would be surprised at how actually similar it was.
Ryan Reynolds came in and improvised a lot of his dialogue. Do you think that would have worked as freely if you had the PG-13 mandate?
Reese: It would have been harder, because he’s got a very blue sense of humor a lot of times. We all do. So we always would have had to be reigning ourselves in. I think that extra bit of freedom was wonderful. I think in a way, that probably, more than the actual particular jokes, just that spirit kind of infused the movie.
There’s nothing like freedom as a writer, and Deadpool, the character, provides you with probably more freedom in terms of being meta, referencing that you’re in a movie; being able to break the fourth wall; being able to do ridiculous, silly things in a more serious scene.
Wernick: Break all the rules. It’s like, “You can move around in time and space; he can talk to the audience directly…” All that stuff is just so freeing as a writer.
Speaking about breaking all the rules, the marketing for “Deadpool’s” theatrical release was fantastic. For its Valentine’s Day opening, did you guys expect it to actually become the most popular date movie for Valentine’s Day?
Wernick: Well, interestingly, yes, and I’ll tell you why. Because all those Nicholas Sparks-[style] ads, the billboards that were up around Los Angeles touting it as a romantic Valentine’s movie, that’s what it is. It is a love story. It is the beating heart of the movie. And that’s what I think people tapped into. Women love this movie almost more than men do because it is true, and it is a romance. It is two people, two broken people who find each other. So yeah, it’s what the movie is.
You were prepared for some success on this one but not the huge degree of success. Can you talk about when that sunk in with your team? Especially with Ryan, who no other star of his caliber would have stuck with a character this long and finally see it come true.
Reese: Yeah, I mean, it was very gratifying. We happened to be on the press tour with Ryan right around the Super Bowl when, like for instance, reviews starting coming in for the first time. So we got to be with him when that happened. It was really gratifying for us all because I think the toughest thing as a writer, as an actor, when you’re in process, is that you work just as hard on the ones that don’t do well as the ones that do, and you never know. You’re always in it doing your best. You’re always trying to do your best, but you’re never sure which one’s going to be received by the audiences and by the critics in certain ways.
So to have it unfold and to wish for a happy ending, and want it so much, for Ryan and for us, and then to have it unfold in these key moments where the reviews popped in, or suddenly tracking came online. We saw, “Oh my gosh, it’s very high on First Choice. People really want to see it, apparently.”
Then to see the Thursday night midnights, and to be texting back and forth going, “Is this actually becoming what we think, even beyond our expectations?” It was enormously gratifying, and almost kind of shocking in a way. It almost took a while of pinching ourselves to be like, “Is this really happening?”
Wernick: Still is.
Reese: Still. Still, when these milestones come in, like the greatest grossing R-rated movie of all-time. Like, we never anticipated it could have done that. You do pinch yourself. And we were giddy. We were totally giddy.
I mean, I remember that we were on a plane with wireless when the reviews were starting to come in, and we were all sitting next to each other. It was just these smiles breaking out that you can’t — it’s one of those things. You can work your whole career and never get a moment like that. So we were extraordinarily fortunate to have it all come together.
The fourth wall-breaking was obviously one of the really successful elements of the movie, and now you’ve established that, is that something you’re looking to take further in the sequels? And is there a certain how far you think you can take it?
Wernick: We’re going to break eight walls! Well, it’s such a signature of the “Deadpool” comics, breaking the fourth wall. And yes, audiences loved it and we loved to write it. You’ll definitely see more of it in the next movie.
Reese: It also becomes a nice tool to get across things to the audience that you might need, so it becomes useful for us in certain moments. It’s both entertaining, but also it can get across a piece of information about how Deadpool’s feeling, his attitude, the plot, whatever. So it’s a nice, bizarre crutch for us too. So it’s a good device.
“Deadpool” is available on digital download now. The Blu-ray goes on sale May 10.
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!