I think Ryan Reynolds is an underrated actor. If you look at his work in films like The Nines, Buried, Smokin’ Aces, and The Voices (just to name a few), you see someone that is willing to take risks and do what it takes for the role. While he hasn’t yet launched a huge Hollywood franchise (hopefully Deadpool will stick), he always delivers a solid performance.
The same goes for Ben Mendelsohn. While most of you will know his work from Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, he’s given fantastic performances as a character actor in numerous roles over the years, and he’s now on the new Netflix drama series Bloodline, which means I’m going to have to check it out.
Which brings me to writers-directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s gambling pic, Mississippi Grind, which stars Reynolds and Mendelsohn. In the film, the two play men willing to bet on anything. Gerry (Mendelsohn) is the typical gambling addict that he’s lonely and in debt, while Curtis (Reynolds) claims that winning doesn’t matter to him. When the two meet up over a game, they decide to enter a high-stakes poker game and go on a road trip. The film also stars Sienna Miller, Analeigh Tipton, Alfre Woodard, and Robin Weigert.
At this year’s Sundance Film Festival I sat down with the two actors to talk about making the film, their characters, their chemistry in the film and how they became good friends off-screen (Reynolds says his wife calls Mendelsohn his “other wife”), playing poker, the research process for the roles, and more. They also talked about other projects like Deadpool, The Voices, The Woman in Gold, The Place Beyond the Pines, Black Sea, and Bloodline.
As usual, I’ve time indexed the interview to provide an overview of the conversation which is below the video.
Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn Time Index:
- :10 – Talk about doing the interview so early in the morning.
- :55 – Who do they play and what is the film about?
- 1:55 – Is the finished film pretty close to the script they first received? Talk about shooting scenes on the freeway while en route to locations.
- 3:01 – Talk about the research process for the roles and learning poker.
- 4:43 – Their chemistry in the film and how they became good friends off-screen. Reynolds says his wife calls Mendelsohn his “other wife”.
- 6:32 – How has their preparation process changed over the years? Talk about how sometimes preparing too much can be bad.
- 8:15 – Talk about playing poker and whether Mendelsohn may or may not have gotten carried away.
- 10:07 – Deadpool talk. Reynolds says he’s wearing the costume right now and talks about the benefits of having a smaller budget.
- 11:20 – Reynolds talks about the “weird, weird, weird dark comedy ”The Voices and how much he loves it.
- 12:26 – Mendelsohn reminisces about The Place Beyond the Pines and how it lead to him landing his role in Mississippi Grind.
- 13:20 – Mendelsohn talks about Black Sea and his upcoming Netflix show Bloodline.
- 14:10 – Reynolds discusses The Woman in Gold and filming in Vienna.