One of this year’s most anticipated superhero movies, Green Lantern, opens June 17 starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular green ring bearer, Hal Jordan; Blake Lively as his fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart; Mark Strong as Jordan’s mentor; and Peter Sarsgaard as supervillain Dr. Hector Hammond . At a recent press conference, the cast and crew gave us an inside look at tackling a fanboy favorite, getting beaten up doing the stunts, and who really had the party trailer.
Q: How would you describe this movie? It was almost an animated comic book with live people in it.
Ryan Reynolds: It feels somewhat like you’ve ripped scenes from the movie right out of the pages of the comic and that was something that I really loved. I found that to be really refreshing. It was a film that wasn’t being too “precious” about everything, and true to the comic books, there’s a somewhat light-hearted tone when dealing with serious issues. So for me, I describe it like we’ve just ripped it out of the pages of the comic book.
Blake Lively: The Green Lantern in general, I think, is a unique superhero in that it’s not that he’s super that’s the focus, it’s that he’s a man. He’s very human and that’s his greatest strength and that’s also his greatest weakness. I’ve never heard of a superhero who inherits such power and says, “No. You know what, you can give it to someone else. I’m good living my life.”
You just look how we interact when I first meet him as the Green Lantern. We’ve known each other our whole lives and he has a mask on and I’ve never seen another comic where it’s treated that way but you always think, “Well come on, really?! You don’t know that that’s him?” [Laughter]
Q: Martin, what was harder, to deliver a film that would meet a long life in Green Lantern fans’ expectations or the critic’s expectations and hopefully a wider audience?
Martin Campbell (director): Well, first of all, you don’t even think about the critic’s expectations when you’re making the movie. More importantly, you want the fans to like the movie, because God help you if they don’t. We have the DC Comics people there checking that we were getting everything right and that if there was something we were unsure about, we would go to them.
Q: Blake, why did you want to take on this role?
Lively: I grew up watching these comic films and I’ve never seen a character like this where the woman is equal to the man – she is also a fighter pilot, she runs the company that he works for. She has the strength and the power of the men that surround her but she also is able to balance the femininity and be the heart for the man that she loves.
Q: Ryan, did you know much about the Green Lantern? Did you jump into doing research?
Reynolds: A bit of both. I only knew the logline. I admit that I didn’t know that much about Green Lantern or the universe that he lives in. I knew that it was a guy who was bestowed a ring by a dying alien and became a superhero. That was about it. But once I got the role I went in search of all the material I could get on him. Mostly I just wanted to distill the essence of what it is that the fanboys loved about this guy and make sure we get that on screen first and foremost because you have to service them. I just really wanted to make sure that we got this origin right and this character right.
Q: How did it feel to first put on the suit?
Reynolds: Well, in the mythology and in the film, the suit is made of pure energy. So there’s no actual suit because that would burn. [Laughter] What I’m wearing is a motion-capture suit with tracking marks and tracking dots and that was a little bizarre because I sort of looked like a crash test dummy who lost his Volvo. It was actually fine up until about mid-August in Louisiana which was just a wholly unforgivable experience in every way.
The first time I saw the suit in motion was a real moment for me. It was about 6 weeks into shooting and they took some of the footage that we shot and rendered the suit onto the motion capture outfit that I was wearing and it was just an incredible thing to see that thing in motion and moving around in a scene where I was just walking back and forth in a bit of test footage and it was an incredible moment for me.
Q: Tell us about the stunt work. They say you separated your shoulder and had to have two operations.
Reynolds: Well, I haven’t had those yet. The operation parts. My shoulder was just ridiculous at the beginning anyway. It’s probably the lamest superpower on earth – I can separate my shoulder on demand. [Laughter] It defies the laws of physics that a 6-foot 2 person should be doing any form of gymnastics whatsoever. My third day of shooting they fired me up into the air a couple hundred feet at 60 feet a second. It was just a mind-boggling experience.
Q: Peter, can you describe Hector’s prosthetics?
Peter Sarsgaard: Every day I would shave my head clean around 3 a.m., and then we put alcohol over it, which is a great way to wake up in the morning. [Laughter] And then they apply the glue and they put it on piece by piece. It took four hours.
Q: And of course Mark, your face was prosthetically enhanced. What about your experience?
Mark Strong (Sinestro): Yeah, I didn’t have it quite as bad as Peter but we did share experiences of getting addicted to that glue. [Laughter]
Q: Mark, how does your character stack up in the good world vs. bad world universe?
Strong: Well, in this one he’s a hero. He’s the head of the Green Lanterns, he believes in the corps more than anything else, he’s a kind of military commander-style figure who’s a hard task master for Hal. He doesn’t really believe humans can have the right to be Lanterns so he’s very strict and very arrogant and a great character to play. I’m glad we stuck to the way he is in the comics. He was great fun to play.
Campbell: Actually, the original character way back in the 1940s was based on David Niven, believe it or not.
Q: Can we expect a sequel?
Reynolds: That was one of the reasons I was so excited about this mythology: the history is something like 70 years old. There’s so many different worlds and stories you can tell in this universe. I was very attracted to this idea of the war between Hal and Sinestro at some point so if we tell any stories down the road and we’re lucky enough to do that I’d really look forward to that.
Q: Blake, we heard you would bring some of your baked goods to set.
Lively: It was just a way to sabotage Ryan. I felt like it’s not fair, he was working out as much as he was and I’m the girl, I’m supposed to look better and I didn’t think it was right or fair so I tried to sabotage him with cupcakes and smiles! [Laughter]
Reynolds: Most actors it’s coke and guns. For me, it’s baked goods. [Laughter]
Donald De Line (producer): All of a sudden we see this woman walking across the swamp and she’s got baskets on her arms and it’s 3 in the morning, in heels, looking like a million bucks and she had made cupcakes and brownies and baked all these things and brought them out for the crew.
Q: OK, so who had the party trailer?
Reynolds: I had the party trailer. We called it the earth-man café.
Lively: Oh, please! Come on!
Reynolds: I had cocktails!
Strong: Those of us in prosthetics couldn’t really have party trailers. We were sucking through a straw! [Laughter]