MOTW: The Chemistry Between Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds in "R.I.P.D."

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
July 15th, 2013

MOTW: The Chemistry Between Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds in "R.I.P.D."

The hit summer film "R.I.P.D." stars Jeff Bridges ("The Big Lebowski") and Ryan Reynolds ("The Proposal"), but putting those two actors together wasn't as easy as some fans might think. "R.I.P.D" tells the story of a man named Nick (Reynolds), who becomes the member of a ghost police department after being gunned down on the job. Bridges portrays Ray, the man tasked with helping Nick understand how the force works. The two men, who appear to others as a gorgeous blond woman and an older Asian man, must fight nefarious spirits while saving the world.

Bridges was never the first choice for Ray, and early reports indicated that a comedian would take on the role. Zach Galifianakis originally signed on for the role of Ray, but a delay in filming led to the actor dropping out of the film. Galifianakis had already agreed to film "The Hangover Part III," and when the studio pushed back the start date of "R.I.P.D.," he had to leave the film. Some fans might also be surprised to learn that Jodie Foster ("Panic Room") also had a role in the film, but after she left the production, Mary-Louise Parker ("Weeds") joined the cast.

Recasting the role of Ray with Bridges was a smart move, because he has delightful chemistry with Reynolds. Many people were a little surprised when the studio announced its casting, because the two actors share little in common. Reynolds is best known for his comedic roles, and while Bridges has done a few comedic roles, he's better known for his dramatic talents.

Canadian actor Reynolds got his start on several television shows in his home country. Though he appeared in a handful of American productions, he got his big break with a starring role in "National Lampoon's Van Wilder." The film starred Reynolds as Van Wilder, a man who seems happier stuck in college than living life in the real world. Only after forming some new friendships and meeting the right woman does he realize that he's ready to leave college behind.

Reynolds followed up that performance with roles in other comedies, including "Waiting...," "Adventureland," and "The Proposal." He also showed that he had a dramatic side with roles in films such as "Buried" and "Safe House." The actor also took on the iconic character in "Green Lantern," but the film grossed less than $120 million at the box office on its $100 million budget. Though the studio hoped it would relaunch the DC Comics character, its poor performance stopped the studio's plans for a sequel.

Though a strong actor, Reynolds is sometimes better known for his relationships offscreen. He dated singer Alanis Morissette for more than five years, but despite a long engagement, they ended their relationship. He later dated and married actress Scarlett Johansson ("The Avengers"). After their divorce, he started dating actress Blake Lively ("Gossip Girl"), whom he met on the set of "Green Lantern" and later married. The two mentioned in interviews that they hoped to work together again in the future.

Bridges has a long career that dates back to 1950, when he landed a role as an infant. Though he acted in a handful of films and television shows as a child and teen, it wasn't until the late 1960s that he decided to really focus on his career. At the age of just twenty-two, he earned an Academy Award nomination for his film "The Last Picture Show." Bridges also received Oscar nominations for his work in "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot," "Starman," "The Contender," and "True Grit." He won his first Academy Award in 2009 for "Crazy Heart," which also gave him the chance to show his musical side. The actor released two albums, and the second made it to number twenty-five on the charts.

Like Reynolds, Bridges has a history of success in comic-book films and sci-fi films. He played the main villain in "Iron Man," and he played the lead in the 1980s film "Tron" before returning for the sequel, "Tron: Legacy." Bridges also has the same love of comedy that Reynolds has. One of his best-known roles was as the Dude in "The Big Lebowski." The film launched an annual festival, Entertainment Weekly named his character one of the best characters in film history, and the Belgian Film Critics Association nominated the film for its Grand Prix award.

When the studio announced that Reynolds and Bridges would headline its film "R.I.P.D.," some wondered if these two actors could pull off a dark and gritty film that walks the line between sci-fi and horror. Given each actor's history of success, this film might be the surprise hit of the summer.