There are a couple of absolute stinkers in Ryan Reynolds back catalogue (Green Lantern, The Voices) but since he pivoted from sitcom actor to bankable, comedic Hollywood star in the early noughties, Reynolds has become one of the most-adored stars around.
Yes, he’s crude and his sarcasm is always biting but he’s also extremely versatile and isn’t afraid of taking risks. If you want proof, look at Spirited, a new musical version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Here are Ryan Reynolds’ 10 best movie roles…
10. Van Wilder (2002)
The movie that certified Reynolds as a star of the screen. Fresh from four seasons of leading the sitcom Two Men And A Girl, Van Wilder saw Reynolds play a brilliant but lazy college student who didn’t want to grow up. The film may be remembered for it’s American Pie-inspired debauchery and a lot of bodily fluid-based comedy, but Reynolds still manages to bring sincerity to the role.
Best bit: Dog Pastries – if you know, you know…
9. Mississippi Grind (2015)
This road movie about desperation sees Reynolds play the untouchable Curtis Vaughn in contrast to Ben Mendelsohn’s Gerry, who can’t seem to catch a break. Mississippi Grind has all the makings of an underdog story, but time and time again it pulls the rug from under the audience’s feet. Throughout the setbacks though, Reynolds remains a figure of complex composure and utter charm.
Best bit: Betting $285,000 on the roll of a dice
8. Detective Pikachu (2019)
By all accounts, a live action Pokémon movie shouldn’t have worked. The last time Nintendo tried something similar (1993’s Super Mario Bros.) it pretty much ruined video game movies for at least a decade after, but Detective Pikachu was an unlikely success. Sure, the joy of seeing a world inhabited by Pokémon à la those classic Game Boy games certainly helped, but Reynolds’ voice acting and facial motion capture gave the audience a titular yellow mouse to believe in. For better of worse, it’s because of this film that we’re getting The Super Mario Bros. Movie in 2023 and we’ve already seen how important getting the right voice is. Right, Chris Pratt?
Best bit: When Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) and Pikachu first meet.
7. Definitely, Maybe (2008)
How I Met Your Mother meets 500 Days Of Summer – Definitely, Maybe sees Reynolds’ Will Hayes tell his 10-year-old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) how he got together with her mum, who he’s currently getting divorced from. This slow-burning, love story mystery is full of gooey, feel-good emotion though, and allows Reynolds to bounce between heartbreak and being head-over-heels in love.
Best bet: Every scene between Reynolds and Breslin
6. Deadpool 2 (2018)
Reynolds is not only great at being the merc with a mouth, a wise-cracking, indestructible vigilante but as Wade Wilson, he inspires plenty of empathy. He’s set to continue this run when he makes his MCU debut alongside Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in Deadpool 3 which is one of the most highly-anticipated movies in Marvel’s impressive slate of upcoming films.
Best bit: When the starry X-Force supes meet their grisly ends
5. The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)
A joyous odd-couple movie that pairs Reynolds’ bodyguard Michael Bryce with Samuel L. Jackson’s assassin Darius Kincaid. Throughout the movie, both actors appear to be having an absolute blast and that glee is infectious. Add in some first-rate action sequences, some classic bickering and with the director Patrick Hughes unfussed about treating things too seriously, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an absolute romp.
Best bit: “This guy single handedly ruined the word motherfucker, you know that is hard to do?”
4. Buried (2010)
A majority of Buried sees Reynolds trapped in a box, but this intense film allows him to show off his serious acting chops. With ransom demands, terrorists and a very bad feeling of claustrophobia throughout, Buried is unlike most films Reynolds has been involved in but that frantic puppy-like energy is used to devastating effect as he faces his own mortality.
Best bit: The opening scene is pure, terrifying horror
3. Free Guy (2021)
A giddy action movie that flirts with nostalgia but is resolutely set in the present. Reynolds’ Guy is brilliant as an oblivious NPC, going about his daily life unaware he’s part of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. He really comes alive though when that illusion is shattered, thanks to Jodie Comer’s Millie Rusk. This fish-out-of-water role allows Reynolds to be as goofy as he likes, but leaves plenty of space for emotional growth.
Best bit: Reynolds versus Reynolds with help from Captain America’s shield
2. The Proposal (2009)
The Proposal has all the things a great rom-com needs. The chemistry behind Reynolds and Sandra Bullock (who plays his boss/fiance Margaret Tate) is a thing of beauty, while the conflict walks the fine line between outlandish and believable. There’s also an over-the-top family, our protagonists reckoning with their own past and plenty of wisdom from the straight-talking grandma (Betty White). Reynolds and Bullock elevate The Proposal from being just another romcom though, while the message of family gives the film far more depth than others like it.
Best bit: The big cheesy end
1. Deadpool (2016)
Ryan Reynolds has become such a star because he throws himself into every role, whether that’s a theme park creep or a man buried alive. He spent actual years of his life trying to get a Deadpool film made, apparently going as far as leaking test footage to get the film green-lit by 20th Century Fox, and it shows in the quality. Following a questionable portrayal in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Reynolds’ dream finally came true with 2016’s Deadpool. True to the comic with fourth-wall breaks, violence and a lot of quips but with all the spectacle that Hollywood can offer, Deadpool is regarded as one of the best superhero movies of all time and quickly became the highest earning R-Rated film ever, only beaten by Joker in 2019.
Best bit: The “maximum effort” bridge scene