Ryan Reynolds’s Surprise Inspiration for Deadpool 2: His Wife, Blake Lively

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Deadpool, Ryan Reynold’s arrogant, super-powered “merc with a mouth,” makes his highly anticipated return to theaters May 18 in Deadpool 2. Though the second film is just as boundary-pushing as the first, according to Reynolds—who also co-wrote the script—it had a surprising inspiration: Reynolds’s wife, Blake Lively, and their two young daughters.

“My family is everything to me, and that’s what brought about Deadpool 2,” Reynolds told Vanity Fair at the film’s New York premiere on Monday evening. “Actually, for [screenwriters] Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and myself—we’ve been friends for 10 years, and in that time we all acquired families and sort of grown up a little bit. So we wanted to write that into the story. The idea of love and family is what’s in Deadpool 2, even though I am still as immature as fuck!”

Jokes aside, Reynolds gives credit to Lively, his wife of six years, for enriching his life and supporting him through the challenging process of bringing Deadpool to the big screen. He had received 47 rejection letters from studio executives before finally getting a green light for his passion project.

“She’s immeasurably made my life better,” said Reynolds, who stepped onto the red carpet with Lively and posed for an impromptu selfie with her. “She’s my best friend. I absolutely love and respect her. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Although the theme of family is at the center of Deadpool 2, director David Leitch assures that the sequel is still as crude, violent, and irreverent as its 2016 predecessor.

“I can promise fans than Deadpool 2 has a ton of funny jokes and action, but it’s different than all the other comic book movies, because Deadpool is a reality check for the superhero, comic book genre,” said Leitch, who started in Hollywood as a stuntman before working his way up to directing features like John Wick and Atomic Blonde. “The story is built on emotion, and there is a beating heart in the middle of it. And the characters get to have fun and poke fun at the giant comic book industry that taken over our culture, and be self reflective about it. I think it’s important to have this universe exist, and not take things so serious, like the other movies.”

In between over-the-top action sequences in which Deadpool decapitates and de-limbs his enemies with his katana swords, the film also introduces a new gang of super-powered outcasts, whom Deadpool recruits for a team he dubs the X-Force. The most memorable member of the squad is Domino, played by Zazie Beetz, who benefits from a mutant strain of luck that allows her to emerge from any dangerous situation unscathed.

“Playing Domino made me really feel like a strong women,” said Beetz, best known for her work in Donald Glover’s critically acclaimed series Atlanta. “I love her strength — both physically and mentally. She’s different compared to all the other female superheroes. She’s so strong physically, and has a worry free attitude. She lets everything happen by luck. She doesn’t worry about things, which allows her to float around the world with a kind of ease.”

Another new character introduced in the movie is Cable, the time-traveling cyborg played by Josh Broli,. The role was first offered to Brad Pitt, who has known Leitch for over a decade; the future Deadpool 2 director was Pitt’s stunt double in Fight Club, Troy, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Due to scheduling conflicts, Pitt had to decline the part—but he did find some time to make a surprise appearance in the film.

“We had approached Brad to play Cable early on, but with schedules, it didn’t allow us to cast him,” said Leitch. “We left the door open and asked him, ‘If there’s something else down the line, would you take the call?’ He said yes. So we came up with this idea, and Ryan reached out and asked, ‘Would you be interested?’ And he said yes, and was a great sport. He came out to play and was up for anything.”

Besides Pitt’s shocking appearance, the movie is filled with lots of jaw-dropping moments. Even Morena Baccarin, who returns as Deadpool’s girlfriend, Vanessa, was surprised when she first read the script.

“Ryan had texted me and said, ‘Keep reading. Don’t stop because there are huge surprises near the end.’ I read the rest of the script, and it was perfect,” said Baccarin. “Honestly, what happens in the story is rightly earned. You need something to care about to move the story and have people invested in the story. I’m excited to find out how fans will react. We are all proud of the movie.”

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