We asked the cheeky star to write a little something about himself. He took the assignment and soared
The 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards - Arrivals
Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

He’s his father’s son
He was born Ryan Rodney Reynolds — 8 pounds 6 ounces — the son of former Vancouver police officer (and lover of alliteration) James C. Reynolds. It was the fall of 1976 when his father entered the emergency room well aware this was no ordinary kidney stone. This was something bigger. A shadow fell upon the faces of baffled doctors who soon realized that he was, in fact, carrying a full-term baby. Sure, his penis would never be the same again, but little did he know he was about to give birth to a skin-covered acting factory, who would later be known as ”the guy from that movie who has to face his demons, grow up, and overcome something significant.”

He’s Canadian, but he doesn’t make a big deal aboot it, eh?
As an infant, Reynolds made his mother worry. He never spoke and never cried. The youngest of four boys, Reynolds grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. For him, it was an ideal place to live. Backdropped by a vast mountain range and flanked by the Pacific Ocean, it was a natural playground. As a kid, he never planted his feet firmly in any particular clique or demographic, shifting smoothly from drama clubs to rugby practice. Due to his soft features and beautiful skin, Reynolds often confounded strangers, who would later be astonished to discover that he was not a woman of Asian ancestry.

In the Reynolds household, family came first. He spent a great deal of time with his older brothers and, in turn, his brothers were very close to him. Usually within striking distance. Fun to bruise and generally considered to be ”emergency food,” he was teased for being the sensitive kid who liked to mow the lawn and get punched in the face. The boys remain close to this day.

He has Al Gore’s innate respect for this great green spinning globe we call inhabit, but also Milton Drysdale’s keen business savvy
In 10th grade Reynolds had the good fortune of weaseling his way into a school-sponsored adventure called the Klatwa TREK Outdoor Education Program. Half the school year was spent in an accelerated academic program, with the other half spent studying the great outdoors, fundamental components of the environment, and sustainability. It was a flashy way of saying they wiped their asses with leaves. For Reynolds, the outdoor portion was mostly remembered for ”accidentally” falling on his classmate Sara Camfield and for constantly running away from bears (and, in one instance, a sexually aggressive goat). But his love and appreciation of trees, the ocean, and clean air would stay with him forever.

In 2006, in an effort to decrease his widening carbon footprint, Reynolds abandoned the use of his car and spent a year bicycling around Los Angeles. L.A. is not well-known as a bicycle-friendly metropolis. His lofty sojourn would soon take a tragic turn when he was run over at Doheny and Sunset. Not by a motorist, but by Ed Begley Jr. on his 12-speed Nishiki, calling Reynolds an ”idealist” while kicking him with a mile and a half of freshly shaved bone-white leg. While Reynolds may not recommend venturing forth on bicycle, he does recommend bringing awareness to your daily routine — doing whatever you can, great or small, to lessen your footprint. For instance, Americans spend $21 billion a year on bottled water. Early on, Reynolds made a discovery that shook him to the core: Water pours straight out of the tap. Almost on command. But Reynolds is also careful not to get too self-righteous, and is not one of those finger-wagging celebrities telling you how to live your life. He prefers to put the word out quietly, through the exciting mediums of interpretive dance and Japanese hand fans.

He’s a walking, talking, fire-breathing champion of fake confidence with an embarrassing secret
It’s shocking to learn that Reynolds is not the cocksman he’s portrayed in film, interviews, and televised children’s specials. Deep down he knows his swagger is just insecurity masquerading as confidence. One of his first forays into the mystical and perplexing world of the opposite sex made a lasting impression on Reynolds and would fuel his future career choices and dating strategies.

It was eighth grade. He entered his new school and saw her…Fiona Gorchinsky — a brunette, athletic girl six lockers down. She was a foot taller than Reynolds, popular, and utterly unapproachable. Reynolds spent the better part of a year living in an imaginary Fiona Gorchinsky-flavored dreamworld. His studies suffered, his social life suffered. He suffered. As the school year waned, Reynolds began taking desperate measures to be near her. He would go on frequent bathroom breaks in the hope she might be lurking around the hallway. Sometimes as many as 20 or 30 a day. Hall passes at Kitsilano high school are still called ”Gorchinsky Tickets” to this very day. More embarrassingly: He took the wrong public bus home at the end of each school day hoping he might muster the nerve to sit next to her, possibly striking up a suave, premeditated conversation. In the late spring he made contact. After a good 45 minutes of traveling in the wrong direction, he got up, sat down next to Fiona, and miraculously began forcing words from his mouth. It was oddly effortless. There was no flop sweat or fumbling, just a nice conversation and innocent connection.

Content with this early groundwork, he decided it would be a good idea to get off the bus and quit while he was ahead. But as he stepped down into the exit, the bus doors opened, and Reynolds hesitated. He got greedy and pushed his luck. In a grossly vain and dangerous move, he decided to look back at Fiona Gorchinsky with what could only be categorized as the world’s lamest attempt at a smoldering gaze. His eyes squinted for no good reason. He intermittently clinched his jaw muscles to express depth. He rubbed the back of his neck hoping to convey that ”You couldn’t possibly understand how complex I am” look he’d learned from old episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210. He held the stare way too long. Things started going sideways fast, and he knew it. Fiona knew it. The guy sitting on the other side of Fiona knew it. The flop sweat appeared. The dry mouth. All the blood in his body quickly relocated to his ears. As he stepped off the bus, the doors closed. But they didn’t close all the way, because Reynolds had forgotten to factor in the oversize backpack jutting out two feet from his spine. He was trapped on the side of a moving bus/prison/shame factory as the huge vehicle began to lumber away. He was pinned like a bug caught in pincers, and he panicked. Awkwardly running alongside, he let out terrified screams that could be heard for blocks. After only a few feet, the doors opened again, freeing him. Ironically, though, it felt nothing like liberation. Reynolds would have much preferred to be ground down to his nipples by rapidly moving pavement.

Kenny Rogers was right. You need to ”know when to hold ’em” and, most important, ”know when to fold ’em.” It would be two years before Reynolds could talk to that girl again. And five full years before he could talk to a bus. A permanent life lesson burned into Reynolds’ psyche: Never…ever…wear a backpack while getting off a bus after staring at Fiona Gorchinsky like a brain-damaged mule.

He has a powerful grasp of showbiz infrastructure, but he keeps expectations modest
His first real acting job was at age 12. He was cast in a Canadian soap opera called Hillside [renamed Fifteen in the U.S.], a show about a bunch of Canadian kids crying about their Canadian problems. The exchange rate being what it was at the time, it was only about 65 percent of what American problems amounted to, and nobody in the U.S. could relate. As child actors go, he was somewhat unusual. He was never arrested for soliciting a prostitute outside a church or for finishing up a weekend of hard partying with a messy stabbing death. Instead he maintained a fairly normal life, playing sports, going to school, and spending time with his family. Much of this is due to the fact that he was a somewhat unsuccessful child actor. After Hillside ended, he worked very little. He focused on finishing up high school and afterward attended college for approximately 45 minutes. Despite his sporadic early experiences in showbiz, he somehow knew the value of a strong work ethic. After moving to Los Angeles at the tender age of 19 — armed with only $600 and a rape whistle — he quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s most dynamic and immensely talented waiters.

Eventually Lady Luck gave him a wink and he broke into the business by scoring a lead role in a sitcom titled Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. Although the series was canceled 10 years ago, Reynolds still holds out hope they’ll change the title to something less stupid. Eventually he moved on to a career in feature films, including the one-woman show National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, which, surprisingly, garnered Reynolds absolutely no significant award nominations. Clawing his way out of a typecasting hole, he managed to secure a wider variety of parts, including several independent films that were later enjoyed by an audience of hundreds. Nonetheless, he knew that being a working actor is a rare privilege enjoyed by few. He continued to study the craft and work as hard as possible at proving himself. Bigger roles in better films followed, and Reynolds eventually found himself hurling a few fastballs in the big leagues. His pal and costar from The Proposal, Sandra Bullock, often refers to Reynolds as a possible contender to be ”the Ryan Reynolds of his generation.”

About the Author
This summer Ryan Reynolds will appear as Hal Jordan in Green Lantern, an epic space adventure brought to you by the good folks at Warner Bros. He continues to live and work in Los Angeles, and recently fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning his very own attack penguin, which he keeps in the moat surrounding his palatial Beverly Hills estate, where he lives with nine cats and his imaginary valet, Gordon. In his spare time, he writes articles about himself for magazines too lazy to do it themselves.

A Superheroic Year: What hasn‘t this guy been up to lately?
The author of this week’s cover story wrote most of it between shooting scenes with Denzel Washington on the South African set of a spy thriller called Safe House. ”I smashed it out over lunch today,” Ryan Reynolds said in an email accompanying his manuscript, ”so forgive any and all typos or lousy syntax. Although I do sometimes write a run-on sentence because I have a God complex.” Actually, we didn’t find too many run-on sentences, or even typos. In fact, Reynolds’ prose was so pristine and punchy, we may ask him to write a Cowboys & Aliens cover story.

Of course, writing isn’t Reynolds’ main profession. He’s also been known to act. In theaters now, for instance, he’s playing the title role in Green Lantern, Warner Bros.’ new superhero franchise about an ordinary human test pilot (who happens to look great with his shirt off) who receives a magic ring and gets inducted into an interstellar crime-fighting league. ”To be honest,” Reynolds says, ”I knew very little about the character. I met with [director] Martin Campbell on a whim, just because I was a fan of his. I thought he did a great job reinventing the Bond movies. And then I came back and saw the designs they had for the costumes and the universe they were creating, and I just got swept up in it all.”

These are busy times for Reynolds, 34. In the past year, he’s gotten divorced from Scarlett Johansson, he was named People‘s Sexiest Man Alive, and he’s been romantically linked to German model Agnes Fischer. On Aug. 5, he’ll costar with Jason Bateman in the body-swapping comedy The Change-Up. In addition to Safe House (in which he plays a low-level CIA agent who gets mixed up with a sociopathic American traitor, played by Washington), he’s got several projects on the horizon, including a cartoon set in prehistoric times called The Croods (Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone will also be doing voices) and an action thriller called R.I.P.D., in which he’ll star alongside Jeff Bridges as an undead cop looking for his killer. No wonder Ryan Reynolds is obsessed with Ryan Reynolds. We’re sorta fixated ourselves.