Entertainment Weekly’s annual Must List issue hits newsstands this Friday. To (ahem) get you in the mood for our action-packed issue (featuring Bradley Cooper, Josh Holloway, Megan Fox, and Cat Deeley) here’s a sneak peek at our cover story with Ryan Reynolds, and after the jump, an additional shot of The Proposal star showing off his guns, as well as behind-the-scenes video from his shoot. (And keep checking back at PopWatch all week long for exclusive photo-shoot videos featuring our Must List stars.)

Ryan Reynolds is simply too smart and self-aware to be sogood-looking. The reticent hunk—who kicks off our Must List for 2009,thanks to his big-screen summer double shot of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Proposal–spenthis EW cover shoot wielding a giant water gun instead of an ego, andtry as he might, he simply cannot muster the arrogance to flaunt whathe’s got. When asked if he’s comfortable as a sex symbol, Reynoldssighs. “If you take any of that seriously, you need to be euthanized,ASAP,” he says. “There are moments when you can use that to youradvantage. But it’s really embarrassing. I think I fear more thananything just sounding like a complete a–hole when I have to answerthat question.”

So let’s skip to the work, where the 32-year-old Canadian is more athome. Of late, he’s certainly done enough of it. In a span of 15 monthsReynolds shot four consecutive films: April’s teen comedy Adventureland; Wolverine, soon to spawn a spin-off for Reynolds’ sarcastic mercenary-turned-mutant, Deadpool; The Proposal, a romantic comedy (in theaters Friday) that lets him crack wise opposite old friend Sandra Bullock; and Paper Man,which debuted this month at the L.A. Film Festival, where Reynoldsplays Jeff Daniels’ imaginary superhero friend. (He also found timelast September to wed actress Scarlett Johansson, a marriage he prefersnot to talk about beyond calling it “fantastic.”)

The more prominent of his two tights-centric roles fit theactor perfectly, and it’s hardly an accident: For the past six years,Reynolds had been trying to develop a Deadpool franchise on his own.”At its core, this is a movie about a guy in a red spandex suit who’sin the midst of a shame spiral. That cracks me up,” he says, promisingthe next film will hew closer to the original Marvel mythology thanWolverine allowed. Meanwhile, in The Proposal, Reynolds dialsdown the bang-bang and dials up the charm, playing the assistant to ahard-driving book editor with an expired visa (Bullock). The two tradea sham marriage for a promotion, and high jinks ensue. A much-discussednaked Bullock scene aside, the real draw of the movie is a chance tosee its charismatic stars go head-to-head. “We had a kind of Abbott andCostello routine we’d been doing for years anyway,” says Reynolds ofthe natural partnership. “When I get someone like Sandy to workwith–who’s so good at hitting the gas–it’s perfect for me.”

But even if the cross-gender appeal of this summer’s laborvaults Reynolds into the marquee stratosphere many have longanticipated he’ll reach, the Man Who Was Van Wilder But Has SinceProven He’s Capable of So Much More will still probably pass on thearrogance thing. “I’ve always just liked working. I like being aworking actor,” he says. “There’s an old saying that you don’t everfinish a movie, you abandon it, and I really believe that. I never walkaway from a take and pat myself on the back. You always walk awaygoing, ‘Dammit, I should have tried this!’ It’s that possibility thatkeeps me coming back for more.” Wait, artistic integrity and hot abs?Did we mention the guy’s a Must?