I interviewed the most likeable man in Hollywood once.
His name? A Young Ryan Reynolds.
Actually, his name was just Ryan Reynolds, but he was indisputably young. His youthful good looks were on display as I sat with him, his co-star Jessica Biel, a cameraman, a PR woman and what seemed like five other people in a hotel room in Sydney in 2004.
We were there to talk about their new action movie, Blade: Trinity, and we’d begun the interview by discussing someone who was making a reputation for himself for not being particularly likeable, or at least for being “difficult” – the movie’s star, Wesley Snipes.
Jessica Biel – aka the future Mrs Justin Timberlake – was also an actress on the rise, gaining fame for her role in drama 7th Heaven.
Yet it was Reynolds who had most fascinated me that day. His charisma on screen was undeniable. It was also undeniable meeting him in person. He answered my questions with agreeable wit and good humour, even the one about then-girlfriend Alanis Morissette.
I didn’t know much about him, but even back in 2004 his name had been mentioned in connection with playing Marvel anti-hero Deadpool (remember, this was long before capes and costumes began to dominate Hollywood). I told him he’d make an excellent Merc With The Mouth – he had the sly wit, the cheeky, knowing grin and the athleticism that would be perfect for the role – for which he thanked me.
Close to a decade later Reynolds did indeed unveil his Deadpool to critical and box-office acclaim.
To paraphrase Sally Field, it looks like we like Reynolds … we really, really like him.
The subject of Reynolds’s likeability came up this week as I watched the movie Self/less, which starred Reynolds.
“There’s just something really likeable about Reynolds,” my wife said.
And I found I had to agree. I’ve interviewed many Hollywood stars face to face – including Will Ferrell, Robert Downey jnr and Jon Favreau, all likeable and charming chaps – but there’s something about Reynolds that makes him special, a certain je ne sais quoi.
Maybe it’s the fact that he can play a tough guy yet still be in touch with his emotions. Maybe it’s because he can play both action movies and rom-coms with equal aplomb. Maybe it’s because he’s Canadian (and everyone likes Canadians).
Maybe it’s because he’s kept his smooth good looks. Maybe it’s because his physique is perfectly dimensioned between Jesse “not buff enough” Eisenberg and Arnold “condom stuffed with walnuts” Schwarzenegger.
Maybe it’s because he’s both a man’s man – the type of dude you’d like to share a trench with or a drink with down at the pub – and a woman’s man, having dated some of the hottest actresses in Hollywood including Scarlett Johansson and now wife Blake Lively.
But we like him. And his charm has stood the test of time, from Van Wilder: Party Liason to Deadpool.
We even forgive him for Green Lantern.
Perhaps we don’t really need to dissect his appeal. Maybe we should just appreciate his je ne sais quoi for what it is rather than quoting Q Scores and the like.
If I had to name a rival for the title of The Most Likeable Man In Hollywood, it would probably be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
I’ll let you know who wins if I ever get to interview The Rock.
Until then, give us more Reynolds … and bring on Deadpool 2.
My ebook military thriller The Spartan is out now on Amazon.