When Ryan Reynolds was first offered the role of Detective Pikachu, Legendary Pictures didn’t just send him the script. The studio also sent him a fully-rendered version of the character paired with his voice. “It was pretty mind-blowing,” Reynolds told io9 late last month in Tokyo.
“The motion capture hadn’t been done yet, so my facial expressions weren’t in there,” Reynolds explained. Now that he’s seen the finished motion capture work in the film, Reynolds says he has this “weird Uncanny Valley thing with Pikachu.”
“I’m seeing my micro facial expressions on Pikachu, which is a very odd and an unsettling thing — which would be exclusive to me as opposed to someone else seeing it,” he told us. “But maybe, someone else is going to feel like that, too. I don’t know. It’s pretty wild.”
Reynolds seems like such an obvious choice for something like this. He’s a big star. He’s a talented comedian. He has voice acting experience. His Deadpool movies have earned him loads of goodwill — important when adapting a beloved universe to the silver screen. But when he was first offered the part, Reynolds hesitated.
“When they approached me to do it, I didn’t say ‘yes’ right away, even though I was really excited about the story. It really resonated with me,” he told us.
“My first question was, ‘Who is supposed to play this?’ Is there someone I am taking a job from? Specifically, am I in territory where I shouldn’t be in? It turns out it all got the greenlight from everyone I trust and love and off we went. So yeah, there was some trepidation. It wasn’t like me wondering if I could pull this off. It wasn’t that. I felt pretty confident about my take on it.”
“Were you worried about Danny DeVito?” we asked.
“Yeah, I think he was one of them. They tried probably two dozen actors voices with a fully-rendered Pikachu. And whatever this unseen committee over at Legendary decided was that, for whatever reason, mine worked the best with it,” he said. “I wish they could show some of that. They probably can’t, though, is my guess. But it would be great to hear other guys’ takes on it.”
Fan reaction to his roles aside, at home, Reynolds has become synonymous with Deadpool to the point that even his oldest daughter, who hasn’t watched the movie, says “Daddy” whenever she sees the character. But, I asked Reynolds, does she now say “Daddy” when she sees Pikachu too?
Video game movies have a tumultuous history of never quite managing to marry what fans love about the games they’re inspired by with a compelling narrative that won’t alienate the unfamiliar. Detective Pikachu manages to succeed at this long-sought combo by pairing a pretty standard family film with some incredibly cute stars. Mostly.
“That’s a really different thing because they’re super excited to see Pikachu,” he said. “I’ve never experienced that with my kids. They’re like, ‘I gotta see this movie.’ For some reason, Pokémon is like catnip to children.”
“I haven’t told them [I’m Pikachu], but I don’t think they fully figured out that it’s me,” he continued. “My daughter James, who is four, said that I sound like Detective Pikachu. ‘Sounds like Daddy.’ But I don’t think she’s put that together.”
Reynolds said he was planning to take his kids to see the film opening day, which is definitely better parenting than what he’s alluded to in the past. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, which already has a sequel in the works, is in theatres now.