Free Guy: How the Giant Muscular Ryan Reynolds Character Was Created

Ryan Reynolds reveals how the giant, buff version of his character in Free Guy was created. The Deadpool star plays a different kind of hero in the newly released action-comedy film. Directed by Stranger Things producer Shawn Levy, Free Guy centers around a bank teller named Guy, who discovers he is a non-playable character in an open world video game called Free City that will soon be shut down by its arrogant publisher, Antwan (Taika Waititi). Guy, no longer wanting to be the character that’s always getting told what to do, steps up to the plate to save Free City before it goes offline with the help of the game’s creators, Millie (Jodie Comer) and Keys (Joe Keery).

After a year-long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reynolds-led comedy is finally out in theaters and, like many of Reynolds’ films, Free Guy is expected to top this weekend’s box office as a fun summer flick with plenty of action and the actor’s trademark humor. In this film, however, Reynolds plays not one, but two roles. The film’s trailer showed Reynolds as Dude, an idealized version of his character Guy, that is created by Antwan to defeat Guy. With his face CGd on the body of bodybuilder Aaron W. Reed, Reynolds’ Dude is a comically bigger and buffer version of Guy, sporting surfer-blonde hair, huge fake teeth and a tan.

Speaking with, Reynolds and Levy explained how the super buff version of Reynolds’ character came to be. The director reveals how they used motion capture to place Reynolds’ face on Reed’s body. Levy said:

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What we did was early on, we had this idea, Ryan and I. This character was not in the script, but we had this idea, what if Ryan has to fight Ryan? But what if it’s an upgrade? What if it’s Ryan 2.0? Taller, more muscular, more hairless, more streaks and tips hair, so we literally cast a bodybuilder out of LA. And his body was just sick and massive, and he made Ryan look like a fragile little feather.

So, we cast this dude, Aaron Reed, and Aaron did the whole movie with dots on his face. Those are tracking markers. Later then, we put Ryan in a motion capture device called the egg. It all sounds very futuristic. We were like, “Ryan, enter the egg.” And it’s a machine where Ryan then did every line as Dude looking at lights in the motion capture egg, and then we digitally cut and morphed Ryan’s real face on Aaron’s body.

Reynolds added:

It really came to be just Shawn and I sitting in my apartment in New York and going, “We need something for Guy to fight, to physically fight against,” because the enemy in the real world is Taika Waititi’s character of Antoine, and we’re never going to face off, ‘so we have to find some anthropomorphic sized version of Taika’s character to fight.’ And that’s where we came up with Dude, which would just be an upgraded version of my character. And how do we upgrade him? We give him bright, white Chiclet teeth.

You give him about an extra 180 pounds of muscle on top of what I would already have. So the guy weighs 300 plus pounds. He’s six foot seven. He’s tan. He’s gorgeous. He’s got his frosted highlighted hair, and that’s our guy that’s going to come into the game to just completely kick the ever-loving s*** out of my character, Guy. And we loved this concept and this idea as soon as it came about. So from then on, it was just the fun part of just manifesting the reality of it.

A high amount of motion capture technology was put into bringing this character to life. Now that Reynolds and Levy have explained how exactly the buff villain was created, audiences will now be able to watch the movie with the knowledge that Reynolds essentially only played the antagonist from the neck up. Levy and Reynolds’ commitment to the Dude character in Free Guy has already paid off. Epic Games recently announced a Fortnite and Free Guy crossover, adding Free Guy quests that allow players to unlock the Dude character outfit. The Dude is now available for purchase in the item shop.

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Often these types of gags and characters can get mixed reviews from audiences, but early reactions to Free Guy have been very positive. It currently has a “Certified Fresh” scoring on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics describing the film as a heartwarming comedy with a fun and fast pace, and praising the performances of the ensemble cast. Fans of Reynolds and his humor will likely enjoy Free Guy, as it seems to have all the elements of a fun, summer hit. The idea for Guy’s alter ego, Dude, is certainly a new and funny twist. It’s interesting to learn from Levy and Reynolds how much went into the preparation for that bit. While Free Guy could have just been a typical action-comedy movie, its unique video game-world and characters certainly takes Reynolds’ movie up a level.


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