Ryan Reynolds’ new Christmas movie “Spirited” was a struggle, even after 20 years in the business. The multihyphenate has starred in comedies, thrillers, and owned a gin brand and Welsh football team, but never a musical.
“It involved months of rehearsals and depending on a lot of professionals,” Reynolds told the Globe in a video interview. “Right away, I sucked as much as possible.”
“Spirited” debuts this weekend on Apple TV+. The film follows the Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Ferrell) on his annual haunting of a Scrooge-like character. When he meets the cruelly seductive Clint Briggs (Reynolds), he thinks he’s headed for a reckoning.
The movie, starring Octavia Spencer, Sunita Mani, and Tracy Morgan, is a full-fledged musical with Broadway-like aspects, including an intricate tap dance performance and character-driven melodies. Reynolds’ triple-threat role required skill and repetition.
Reynolds: “I can’t say if I got better, but I’m glad it wasn’t a live concert.” “It took several takes to get things right. I couldn’t focus on anything but the singing and dancing. Each song and dance routine loomed large.
Reynolds said he wasn’t sure if he ever had a day when everything came together, but he could sense achievement in bits.
God bless editing, he remarked. We had times in the tap dance passages when everything clicked. I don’t think there’s a better sensation on Earth, short of having my own children.
Even though the picture joins an assault of “A Christmas Carol” adaptations, it has its own unique edge. “Spirited” tackles the ethics of weaponizing social media, which fascinated Reynolds, but he felt the story’s message ageless.
“Some poor terrible [expletive] treats everyone cruelly and then has a tremendous, life-changing insight,” he added. “It’s a timeless idea.”
“Spirited” spans many locales and historical eras, including modern-day New York and 19th-century London, but was shot in the Boston region in 2021. Back Bay, downtown, and other Massachusetts towns were used for filming. Reynolds shot the 2019 smash “Free Guy” in the city and praised its “excellent” film crews and multifunctional utility.
“It’s a great place to shoot,” he remarked. It has several places. It can sub for a lot of cities and has an unforgettable Boston vibe, which you want cinematically.”
“I was trying to promote the next ‘Deadpool’ feature there, but I haven’t had luck,” he said. “I plan to shoot most of my films in Boston. I live in New York, so I can go back and forth. Reynolds’ business Maximum Effort produced “Spirited” and most of his films these days.
Reynolds has taken a filmmaking break. The actor declared his hiatus on Instagram after filming “Spirited” last year and has focused on family and non-acting hobbies. While he has planned projects (including “Deadpool 3” and “Imaginary Friends”), he doesn’t plan to perform another movie musical.
Reynolds: “That devoured my life for a year.” “I’m thrilled, proud, and glad I accomplished it. I’m sure [Ferrell] agrees. I wasn’t looking for the next musical, though. I let it go.”
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