Star Ryan Reynolds says new movie Free Guy was envisioned as “an updated version of Back to the Future for this generation,” referring to the 1985 classic comedy that starred Michael J. Fox as a fish out of water (and time). In the upcoming action-comedy directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Stranger Things), Reynolds plays NPC Guy — or a non-playable character — who slowly begins to realize he’s living in a video game, spurring him to take control of his life and destiny. Like Back to the Future, a mix of “wish fulfillment, action-adventure, [and] little elements of sci-fi and supernatural” will take things to the next level in Free Guy.
“When we first got this script, I remember Shawn and I had been wanting to work together for years, and we found this script. And to us, it felt like we really wanted to bring sort of an updated version of Back to the Future for this generation, and it really felt like Back to the Future,” Reynolds said during Brazil’s CCXP convention. “It was imbued with all of that same sort of wish fulfillment, action-adventure, little elements of sci-fi and supernatural, so for us, it felt really timely.”
That script, penned by Matt Lieberman (The Christmas Chronicles, The Addams Family) and Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk, Ready Player One), would make for “an original movie.”
“I mean, it’s not every day that you get to make a movie isn’t based on a comic book, or based on a graphic novel, or based on anything,” Reynolds said. “It was just an original idea that we got to take the ball and run with, and it was a dream come true. It’s my favorite film that I’ve ever done in my life, and I hope I get to make three or four more.”
Free Guy is “definitely hopeful and optimistic,” added Levy, who noted the theme of the movie is agency and taking control of your life. “It’s really about all these different characters becoming empowered and changing their lives.”
“There aren’t so many films these days that aren’t based on something else, and when I read it originally, that’s just so appealing, I think, to work on something that’s new and something that’s original and to have some real creative control, obviously,” added Reynolds’ co-star Joe Keery, who plays a coder employed by the company headed by an executive played by Taika Waititi. “It was really just an honor to be a part of it and I’m so excited for all of you guys to see it. It’s going to be such a blast, I can’t wait.”
Keery’s character, Keys, “kind of has not the same sort of arc, but I think a lot of the throughline for this movie is kind of the discovery that you can be the master of your own direction,” he said. “I think that’s something that my character goes through as well.”