Shawn Levy sat down (virtually) with EW at the E3 gaming conference to discuss all things Free Guy.

By Nick Romano
June 14, 2021 at 09:43 AM EDT
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Once upon a time, Shawn Levy, a producer of shows like Stranger Things and director of Night at the Museum and Reel Steel, was attached to make the movie adaptation of the Uncharted video games. He was the latest in a string of filmmakers that hopped on and dropped off the project over the course of a decade. In 2018, he, too, bowed out, instead choosing to make a video game-inspired feature called Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer.

During a moderated conversation with EW for this year's E3 festivities, Levy addressed how he shaped what the Uncharted movie with Tom Holland is today, why he left the project, and what intrigued him about Free Guy (in theaters Aug. 13).

An edited portion of the conversation premiered during E3's Saturday livestream, but EW can present the full-length version in the video above.

According to Levy, the story of Free Guy crossed his path while he was mulling whether or not to stay on Uncharted.

"It was the same day, basically," he says of those dueling conversations. "Uncharted was in development for eight, nine years before I ever got involved. And, ironically, the movie that is going to come out with Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg is very much the script that I spent a year-plus developing. I can't wait to see that movie and for people to see that movie, but it failed to gel. Casting hadn't quite come together. Tom was attached, but we couldn't find our Sully. So, it wasn't quite real, and it was in that moment that Ryan and I started to get really excited about Free Guy and I had a choice to make."

Uncharted, Free Guy
Tom Holland in 'Uncharted,' Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer in 'Free Guy.'
| Credit: Clay Enos/Columbia Pictures; Alan Markfield/20th Century Studios

As it exists now, Uncharted is based on the game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and goes back to the origin story of Nathan Drake, a charismatic treasure hunter and a supposed descendant of Sir Francis Drake. Holland stars as Nathan as he encounters his rival-turned-mentor Victor Sully, played by Wahlberg. (At one point during the earlier development of the movie, Wahlberg was attached to play an older version of Nathan.) It's currently set to release Feb. 18, 2022.

Free Guy, by comparison, stars Reynolds as Guy, an NPC (non-playable character) in a popular video game called Free City who thinks he's breaking free of his daily monotony by joining in on all the action that's happening around him when in actuality he's becoming self-aware. In comes Milly (Comer), a game coder who controls a character in the game called Molotov Girl. Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Taika Waititi, and Utkarsh Ambudkar also star in the movie releasing Aug. 13.

"Making a movie about gaming, set in the world of gaming, set in a game was frankly super liberating compared to adapting an existing game," Levy says. "So, I was beholden to the world that I wanted to be authentic to, but I was not beholden to any game. I invented a game."

Watch the interview in full above.

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