'Labor of love': Ryan Reynolds talks 'Free Guy,' COVID pandemic delays

"Free Guy," a new movie out only in theaters Friday, stars Ryan Reynolds as a character in a video game who figures out he can control his own destiny.

The action takes place inside and outside the game, which was invented just for this movie.

You can imagine the frustration of those involved when the release of the picture was postponed by the pandemic not once, but three times.

It's no wonder all involved were so enthusiastic during the recent premiere in Manhattan.

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The fact Reynolds had to wait for two years before hitting the red carpet for this one made the event even more memorable for the star.

"It's bit of a 'pinch me' moment," he said.

He called the film a "labor of love" that's on the big screen now after "a lot of false starts."

Director Shawn Levy said the long lockdown made the themes of the movie even more relevant.

"It was made with the spirit of hopefulness and just wanting to bring fun back to the movie experience," he said, "And so it feels like, maybe even more than when we made the movie, that sense of fun and escape and warmth and laughs is of real value and what we need."

Given so much of the action takes place within a video game, you'd think those involved were active gamers, but that is actually not the case.

"We didn't know that much about gaming, but I didn't feel we had to," Reynolds said.

That's because the game exists as a framework for a larger story.

"A love story, a story about fighting back, stepping out of the shadows and entering into your own life and existence," Reynolds said.

However, the star and his director knew active gamers would be going to see it so.

"We had to work very hard to make sure the in-game experience in the movie feels authentic to gamers," Reynolds said. "But we were most concerned with telling an amazing story that has action, heart and humor."

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This is not a sequel, nor is it inspired by a comic book. And that, for those involved, is part of what makes it special.

"It's so rare that you get the opportunity to make a big summer blockbuster that is based on a wholly original idea," Reynolds said. "And that, for us, was reason unto itself to take a swing at this."

It's been decades since the first movie inspired by a video game, and more than a quarter of a century of mostly bad movies later, this one emerges as a project to embrace and even love.

"Free Guy" is distributed by Disney, owned by the same parent company as this ABC station.
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