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Interview: Ryan Reynolds

The actor on working inside a coffin, speaking to the camera and bouncing between genres

While getting much too physical in a movie like Green Lantern can run you ragged, doing the couch potato thing, according to Ryan Reynolds, as in the claustrophobic thriller Buried, is no bed of roses either. But Ryan was up to taking it like a man, without a body double or green screen in sight (even if the script alone nearly scared him to death). Though when on the brink of losing it in insanely tight quarters, there was a woman close to his heart to help him keep his cool—no, not Scarlett, but rather a therapist monitoring his heartbeat for a panic attack, via remote stethoscope machine.

Q: Ryan, you’re really scared out of your mind in this movie. So what scares you?

RYAN REYNOLDS: I tend to lean more toward claustrophobia than most people. I think.


Q: Your character Paul Conroy is really freaked about being buried alive. Is that something that could make you a little crazy too?

RR: Nah. But this is probably most human beings’ worst nightmare come true, to be buried alive. I couldn’t help but feel that, while we were shooting. I mean, we were using a coffin! And like in the space of 30 seconds, this turns from a movie about a guy in a box, into Indiana Jones. I have to break down and I have to lose my mind. I have to scream and shout, or whatever is happening. Plus, I had to be my own gaffer and light my scenes—with a cell phone, a lighter, whatever. So you just try to get as many things as you can into like a 10-second window and hope some of them will stick.

Q: Did you ever come close to losing it for real, and how did you keep cool?

RR: I was closed in there, so for me, I had my moments of panic. They put this microphone very close to my chest. And yes, I was soothed in different ways. There was a woman who would be listening, and she could hear a panic attack starting, because she could hear my heart rate accelerating. There were times when I couldn’t get out of the coffin with any sort of ease. But you just try not to think about it too much. So I just had to stay in there. And you know, when you have 50 or 60 pounds on your chest, and that wood pressing against it, you start to have a moment of, you know…panic!

Q: What did she do to calm you down?

RR: She would talk about wide open spaces, meadows, trees, things like that—esoteric stuff that would just chill me out and allow me to keep doing the job. But yeah, I had lots of moments.

Q: Now about that unexpected visitor in your coffin, how did you prepare for that?

RR: Uh…Without giving too much away! You can’t really prepare too much for an unexpected visitor like that. What I will say about that is I was deeply amazed by the way it was transformed into an action scene. That was epic. I never expected that. I had to be talked into it!  I was like, “Really? We’re going to move around that fast inside the coffin, and with that much violence?” And then you realize there’s a universe inside that coffin. It’s not just this small thing. But yeah, this is the most terrifying script I’ve ever read. We start the movie off by knowing nothing about this guy. Then he’s made 10 phone calls by the end of the movie, and we know everything, including the details of our special visitor.

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