MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Ryan Reynolds became interested in playing Deadpool after he saw a joke in a comic book about the Merc with a Mouth looking like him.
The journeys actors take on the way to iconic roles can often be quite circuitous. Just look at Harrison Ford's two most famous characters, Han Solo and Indiana Jones: Ford wasn't even supposed to audition for Han Solo, but landed the role while working as a scene partner for other actors reading to play Luke and Leia. Then he was only cast as Indiana Jones because CBS decided to hold Tom Selleck to his “Magnum P.I” contract.
Few actors, however, experienced quite the journey Ryan Reynolds did on his way to starring in the blockbuster “Deadpool.” Initial discussions about the role occurred more than a decade ago, with the actor taking a near-disastrous detour in which he played a bizarre version of the character in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”
But how did Reynolds initially come interested in the role? A legend has sprung up that the actor was inspired to play the character based on a joke that appeared in “Cable and Deadpool” #2 (by Fabian Nicieza, Mark Brooks, Shane Law and Chris Stevens). He told Latino Review in 2009:
“Ya, I love the character. I’ve always loved the character. I remember reading one of the Deadpool comic books, and somebody asked Deadpool what he looks like. And he said he looks like a cross between a Shar-Pei and Ryan Reynolds. And I was like, I really, really wanna play this guy at some point. I thought it was pretty cool. It’s a guy that knows he’s in a comic book. How hard is it to shoot that properly? That’s not something they put in Wolverine nor would it belong in that universe.”
So is that the origin of Reynolds' interest in playing Deadpool?
It doesn’t appear to be.
In February 2004, hot off working with Reynolds on “Blade: Trinity,” screenwriter and producer David S. Goyer explained to IGN:
I want to do something else with Ryan Reynolds because I really loved working with him and New Line wants to do something else with Ryan Reynolds and Marvel wants to do something with Ryan because there aren't a lot of actors anymore that can do credible action and be funny and that are also good actors. Ryan, I think, coming out of this movie and I know it's a lot to say will sort of be like where Mel Gibson was coming off of "Lethal Weapon." He can do it all. He never thought he could do action, ever. And he was in here last week with his girlfriend and I showed him some cut-together action stuff and said, 'Can you believe that's you?' And he said, 'No, I cannot!' So, "Deadpool'" came up as a possibility. We would completely reinvent it. We can't connect it to Weapon X or anything like that. We'll see.
That was in February 2004, two months before the release of “Cable and Deadpool” #2, which contained the Reynolds joke (spelled “Renolds” in the comic).
While Reynolds may have gotten a kick out of the gag, it wasn’t the initial spark, as that had occurred by the end of February when the IGN article came out. It’s certainly possible, however, that Reynolds in 2009 simply misremembered the sequence of events from five years earlier.
I’m going with the legend as....
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