It isn’t much of a reach to imagine Ryan Reynolds as someone people would want to be rescued by. Or, led by. In 6 Underground, he is the billionaire mastermind who assembles a crack team to pull off a specific mission – and makes a group of broken-down but skilled individuals greater than the sum of their parts. Reynolds has again teamed up with his Deadpool writers, Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, for this Michael Bay-directorial. “I’ve worked with Rhett and Paul for 10 years now. They’ve been my closest collaborators in terms of writing, and I love working with them in any capacity. Everything they do has this kind of weird, subversive, refreshing angle,” says Reynolds, as he talks about his Netflix debut.
Excerpts from a conversation with the actor:
What is your character, One, like? What is it that he looks for in the team members he chooses?
One is a billionaire, who basically forms his own vigilante-slash-militia. I thought it was kind of neat to see somebody who sort of hits ‘Fu** it’ at a certain stage and then just goes after this one problem. Each one in his team has a very specific skillset. It’s kind of a sum of all its parts-type story. As a unit, we are amazing together. But if we lose any member, we’d be in trouble. It’s a true ensemble piece. Everybody shares the workload to tell the story. Each character has their own aspect of the story they need to tell. Each has a kind of irreplaceable skill or talent that One needs in order to accomplish this very dangerous mission.
And what drew you to this project?
Rhett and Paul really delivered – not just in the dialogue, but in great action set-pieces. But if I read 6 Underground and it wasn’t attached to Michael Bay, I don’t know that I would have wanted to do it. I love that Michael’s returning to that form of Bad Boys and The Rock, to those kinds of films that I grew up loving, but inventing new things. He does huge spectacle that’s in-camera, not necessarily CGI.
For you is that something to feel excited or nervous about? When you know you’re going to be in that car, flying down those streets?
I remember we were shooting in Florence, Italy – my first week was this giant car chase. You think you’ve seen it all in a car chase until Bay gets his hands on it. It was just the wildest, craziest ride I think I’d ever experienced. We spent two weeks in a day-glo green Alfa Romeo going a hundred miles an hour down Florence side streets that were built for only walking and horse carriages. The strangest phenomenon about that is you actually get kind of anaesthetised to it. By week two my heart rate wouldn’t even go up and we’d be driving a hundred miles an hour down a street with one inch on either side of stone walls. I think that speaks to the faith in these precision drivers. I mean, he [Bay] hired the best drivers in the world for this movie.
What was the most challenging thing on this?
I’m used to films where you’re shooting a specific thing each day. But Michael Bay, the reason he’s at the top of his game is that he shoots things in the way that he sees fit. And it’s different than you expect. If you’re expecting a calendar that’s going to be a reliable thing, forget it. Michael would see a location or space somewhere and suddenly we’d be shooting a totally improvised scene there or a chunk of the movie that you hadn’t expected to shoot that month even. Michael’s got this unique ability to see where the story’s taking him. I think he listens to the movie.
So, for me, it was interesting and challenging to sort of throw out the playbook and just kind of go with whatever is happening. It was fun because I started in improv comedy, it’s why I moved to California originally from Canada, and it felt like we’d sort of jumped back into that a little bit, but just in the slightly larger, more Bay-esque scale.