Ryan Reynolds is sitting opposite me in the 50th-floor penthouse of a Manhattan skyscraper, where he is promoting his new campaign for Armani Code Absolu cologne, and his first impulse is to crack a self-deprecating joke. “This is how we roll here at Armani,” quips Reynolds, gesturing to the panoramic views below. “I wouldn’t show up if we weren’t on floor 50 or higher. I want to be as lonely as possible.” He’s wearing a pair of dorky plastic-rimmed glasses and a navy sweater, and it feels like the actor, who most recently brought his sardonic superhero alter ego to life in the Deadpool franchise, would be more comfortable bantering over brewskis than discussing upscale fragrances in a luxury suite. But that is exactly why Armani chose Reynolds for its new cologne, which is designed to embody a “new model of masculinity”—one in which humour and irony are, evidently, essential ingredients. Over the course of our conversation, we chat about Reynolds’ foray into the fragrance world, his upcoming film projects and his Canadian West Coast roots—his social media handle is @vancityreynolds, after all. His sense of humour bodes well when he hears his daughters, James (4) and Inez (2), chattering in the room next to us. Or, as he puts it, “I’m going to slip next door and see what’s on fire.”
I’ve been sent to give you the Vancouver lightning round. First off: Who is your favourite Canuck?
“Oh, man! I don’t know. Maybe Stan Smyl. That’s an oldie but a goodie. Got to be over 40 to know that one.”
Go-to White Spot order?
“I may have at one point been quoted as saying that I wanted to be buried in Triple O sauce.”
Favourite sushi spot?
“This is kind of where everyone goes in Vancouver, but I like Tojo’s. I do have to say, though, that I love Toronto [as a city], which I know is kind of a weird thing to say for a Vancouverite.”
I’m pretty sure it’s treasonous.
“I know! I could be disbarred, in whatever fashion you can be disbarred in Vancouver without a law degree. But I’ve spent a ton of time in Toronto and shot so many movies there that it feels a little bit like home.”
Tell me about the new Armani cologne.
“I can never talk about these things with the same kind of disarming aptitude that the guys who create them can, but I love a scent that is warm and approachable and doesn’t overwhelm the user. For me, that is what Armani Code Absolu embodies. I dug it for that. I also [liked] that this huge, iconic brand was really up for trying something a little different.”
Perfumer Antoine Maisondieu used notes of rum, vanilla and tonka bean to craft the sensual new Armani Code AbsoluEau de Cologne Spray ($112 for 60 mL).
Right—the new campaign is all about modern masculinity and the rise of a different, more progressive and egalitarian mode of courtship. Is that something you are personally invested in?
“I grew up in a household where my dad certainly had aspects of toxic masculinity that I think my brothers and I found a bit off-putting at an early age. We had a great example of what not to do in a lot of instances. I love the idea of modern masculinity and how it’s evolving. Vacillating power dynamics are important in every relationship—not just romantic ones but across the board. It’s better for everyone.”
How does that come into play in your relationship with your wife [Blake Lively]?
“It would shock you how many things [Blake] and I defer to, and rely on, each other for. When the person you are married to is also your friend, it’s a pretty lucky scenario. I think that’s what a relationship is. You complement each other in dynamic ways and help each other grow.”
You have spoken about how you don’t really feel comfortable in the typical leading-man archetype, yet ironically the success of the Deadpool movies has elevated you to that stature. How do you balance that contradiction?
“Deadpool does what a lot of movies right now are doing: They subvert themselves. The idea of the modern leading man is ever evolving and changing. There are a lot of leading men in 2019, and leading women, who are also character actors, and I think that’s great. For me, I’ve never felt comfortable in that classically hyper-masculine leading-man role. I’ve never been comfortable being the type of man who is intermittently clenching his jaw muscles and squinting for no reason and speaking in a deep, gravelly voice. It doesn’t suit me, and I don’t suit it and never will. But playing with that in weird ways and laughing at myself—that works for me.”
Tell me about your upcoming project, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, out this month.
“I haven’t actually played [the game] Pokémon! I read the script and fell in love with this fun story of adventure, and then it was this crazy-difficult learning curve to educate myself on as much of that world as I possibly could.”
Why is it important for you to produce your own work, as you’re doing with the Deadpool franchise?
“It’s important to have some say in shaping your destiny. I adore collaboration, so if someone else has a better idea of how to do something—I don’t care what your role is on the film set—let’s do it. Best idea wins. With Deadpool, I’m so intrinsically linked to the character that I love having some role in what it shapes up to be on the big screen. I love writing it, I love producing it, I love starring in it, I love marketing it. So it’s kind of an all-encompassing and life-swallowing but awesome job.”
This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of ELLE Canada.