Sitting in a penthouse in West London, Ryan is here to promote taking over as the face of the fragrance, Giorgio Armani Code. But not only does his face grace the accompanying campaign after taking control of the creative with The Handmaid’s Tale female director, Reed Morano, the result is a game-changing ad that pushes gender equality to the fore.
As a clear male feminist, the results are surprisingly, “egalitarian from the get-go,” he proudly says. “Partly by design but also because it’s about time one of these fragrance adverts had some shared power between men and women.”
Don’t expect Ryan Reynolds to submit to the usual generic fragrance fella either, “We wanted to steer clear of the fragrance ads where your hero is clenching his jaw muscles in the place of actual depth. We wanted to do something more self-aware, ironic and more current.”
The accompanying campaign imagery with Ryan taking off his suit jacket, revealing a tight white shirt – accessorised with a smoulder – are set to induce a level of global thirst they could caught a drought. But it’s not something that came naturally to Ryan, “I have never been much of a smoulderer,” he laughs. “I have mostly spent most of career making fun out of myself!”
His latest role certainly won’t break that trend as he lends his voice to Pikachu in the aptly named, Detective Pikachu. Taking the mick out of himself and failing to take on the norm of ‘I am a serious actor, ok!’ has been a form of escapism, the father of two, reveals. “It’s something that works for me. I have friends who take themselves very seriously and that doesn’t make their work or imprint on this world any less significant. I love people who take themselves too seriously. For me, personally, it’s been something I have felt quite liberated by.”
“There is nothing funnier to me than laughing at myself or making myself the butt of a joke. I am not super into making someone else the butt of the joke, so I think it comes from that too. When it comes to writing the Deadpool scripts, I just turn it back on myself and the character.”
Ryan seems to be in a more introspective mood than ever. Does he feel he is constantly carrying around ‘Ryan Reynolds: The Comedian’ with him? “Yeah, he’s a bit of a dick,” he jokes. “It’s a necessary evil to turn into someone else – it’s a coping mechanism. For instance, when I walk onto a talk show I let that guy take over. The real me is much more vulnerable and afraid so I wouldn’t put that guy out there, as much. Maybe my challenge is to start putting that guy out there more.” Wowha, just when we thought he couldn’t get any better, he does.
In a post #MeToo age where the masculinity’s place in our society has been called into question, Ryan, one of the leading and most-followed actors in Hollywood (he has 28.5 million Instagram followers and counting), has a definition of masculinity that sets him apart. But what else would you expect from one half of Hollywood’s favourite couple alongside Blake Lively, as wades into the debate over what new masculinity means. “I am not sure my definition of masculinity has ever been in line with other people’s definition,” he says.
“I share everything. I grew up in a household of boys which is odd because all of my brothers are incredible integrated and never had any of those typical patriarchal traits which have become so wearisome nowadays. New masculinity? I don’t know how I could broadly define it or categorise it because for me it’s about sharing everything and not really resting on the laurels of how you came out the shoot!”
“I was lucky to grow up in the circumstances I did,” he continues.” “I was the youngest of four boys, in a house full of cops and you would think you would come out one way but that isn’t necessarily true. Don’t judge a book by its cover. I grew up around good people. My brothers are all smart, insightful guys who have enormous respect for the women around them. I grew up with those examples and that was important to me.”
Sitting in front of me as a very self-assured yet surprisingly vulnerable man I wonder where Ryan’s sense of empowerment comes from. “Empowerment for me comes from deep within. I think it comes from really listening instead of speaking, sometimes,” he says. “There is a lot of information coming at us, these days, at speed. It’s about listening and understanding as much of it as possible.”
“My empowerment, if I was really going to break it down into the nuances, the most empowering place you can come from is empathy. Empathy is something I wish they would actually teach in schools. We wouldn’t be sitting around being surprised by a fragrance ad where men and women have equal power if we taught empathy in school, it would then be the norm and accepted as it should be.”
Hankies at the ready as Ryan continues, “Empathy isn’t boo-hooing someone else, it’s about understanding someone else and putting yourself in their position. Understanding their experience and how that differs from your own and knowing that it’s ok to be different.” WORD.
Back to fragrance. We all need to know who ACTUALLY smells the best in the Reynolds household? “Well, the logical first step is Blake, my wife. But once you smell a baby’s head, that is a smell you never forget. Although my daughters are getting older, so they have lost the baby smell. Someone has got to figure out how to pocket that smell – it’s the best!” Ryan. We. Love. You.
Giorgio Armani Code launches on April 24th