On August 13, director Shawn Levy is taking us into the world of Free Guy, a new movie starring Ryan Reynolds as a background player in the violent, open-world video game “Free City.” His character meets the sexy Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer), who helps him navigate the game and come to terms with the fact that the only life he has known is not real.
We got a chance to talk to Levy, Reynolds and Comer, as well as co-stars Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Taika Waititi, about the anticipated action comedy releasing first in theaters.
Ryan Reynolds joked about playing a wholesome good guy in the film. “Well, you know,” he said, my default is just pure trash, you know, on the inside. So for this, it’s just slightly new for me.”
He mentioned that this film reminded him of Being There starring Peter Sellers. “That was like my first foothold that I had into this character and this world, and there’s something really wonderful about playing a character who’s kind of naive and innocent… he’s kind of like a four-year-old adult.”
Jodie Comer loved the “sheer imagination” that the script had. “I remember reading it and thinking, oh my gosh, how is this going to translate onto the screen – the real world mixed in with the video game… I think it was the scope of it and how much heart it had.
“You see it written down, a lot like it’s an action comedy, but I just feel like there was so much more to that, so much emotion and it provokes so much emotion in you.”
Howery loved the film as well, and says that he loves his character Buddy’s big speech. “It was such a beautiful – even when we shot it. It’s always weird when you do speeches like that,” he laughed.
“You’re emotionally tied to it. I remember shooting it with Shawn and them. I had to take a walk. I wasn’t going to tear up in front of y’all, but I was like, wowo, that was what it was… Buddy has a couple of those moments, which is what I loved about the character – that his innocence came with how comfortable he was with his friendship.”
Waititi plays a villain in this film and joked that there might be a super cut of his improv. Reynolds said that cut is “four hours and 10 minutes.” Waititi said, “Antoine, I mean, honestly I didn’t really know what to expect or what I was doing. It’s just that Shawn’s faith in people’s abilities and just trusting… I probably trusted him more.
“We had one phone call, and he said, ‘I think you can do it.'” He also said that this was a version of his mom, ‘who I think that had not grown up, I suppose.'”
Ambudkar said of his fellow cast members, “We got really lucky. This whole cast works really well together. Everyone works together, they make each other look good. It’s very rare that you get this many people who live the energy gong with each other, so it’s awesome.”
Shawn Levy spoke about getting the gaming right in the film. “This movie was about threading the needle between wanting to represent the gaming world correctly and accurately. And for that I spoke with a lot of game publishers, coders, game designers and played and watched a lot of games in pre-production.
“Getting that right was really important. But it was also important to make a movie that required no gaming fluency from a viewer that wasn’t a gamer. And just wanting to make a movie that was warm and funny and romantic and enjoyable as both, so just kind of trying to tick both boxes was always a part of the goal, and something we worked really hard to achieve.” He also laughingly confirmed the Taika Waititi super cut.
Comer spoke about her character, Molotov Girl/Millie, and how she was both a badass player, a game designer and a romantic lead. “It was incredible,” she said of the role. “I mean, it was a huge part of what attracted me to the piece, especially having this girl Millie and Molotov being a creation of her.
She added: “It was so important that it was always an essence of Millie, but Molotov was also very, very different, and I think a way in which we did that, which I really tried to focus on, was the physicality… there’s a world of nuance there, especially within her world.
“You know, even looking into kind of how male dominated that industry is, which is kind of similar to my own, and those kind of fights that she probably would have — well, definitely — clearly was up against, and the kind of resilience which that created in her. There was so much for me to play with.”
In the 20th Century Studios film, Guy (Reynolds) is a bank teller at Free City Bank who lives a simple existence. He exudes positivity and cheerful optimism and is always up for a good cup of coffee. Like his best friend, Buddy (Howery), he has a zest for life but all that changes when Guy discovers he is actually a non-player character (NPC) in the game “Free City.”
Distributed by Soonami Studios, which is run by the greedy mogul Antwan (Waititi), “Free City” is a wildly popular game where chaos and devastation reign. Players live an unabashed existence within the game and level-up by committing unprovoked acts of hostility and vandalism.
Molotov Girl, whose name in the real world is Millie, has a bone to pick with Soonami, as she believes Antwan took the codes from a game she and her friend, Soonami programmer Keys (Keery), sold the company.
As Guy begins to take on a more active role as a good person, he becomes a champion for both the players and the other NPC’s and the hero of his own story… one he is rewriting himself. Guy’s popularity continues to grow and Antwan, realizing the serious threat he poses to the future of “Free City” and, more specifically, its sequel “Free City: Carnage,” deploys Keys and a Soonami coder named Mouser (Ambudkar) to permanently remove Guy from the game.