Ryan Reynolds admits singing and dancing in new holiday musical ‘Spirited’ was ‘obscenely provocative and scary’

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in 'Spirited' (Apple+)

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in ‘Spirited’ (Photo: Apple+)

Make no mistake, the new holiday comedy Witty is a full-fledged musical. That means the stars, Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell and Octavia Spencer – not actors typically associated with (or have any experience with) the genre – are in full song-and-dance mode.

And that was terrifying at times for Reynolds, the 46-year-old deadpool actor and father of three daughters.

“It was super exciting to tackle something that was obscenely challenging and scary,” Reynolds tells Yahoo Entertainment. “And I don’t think I would have done this 10 or 15 years ago or even five years ago. I think I’m at a point in my life where I’m much more lenient with myself because I’m not immediately good at something. It’s very hard to even get good at anything unless you’re willing to be terrible at it first.

“That’s something I always tell my kids: never waste your mistakes, because your mistakes teach you how to get better at something. So yeah, I was kind of at a place in my life where I was willing to go into a situation where I felt completely out of my depth in almost every way. I mean give me a fight order and I’ll learn that back and forth in almost record time. But a dance number is just such a completely different animal and beast. And I was excited to try something slightly terrifying and out of my reach.

The latest film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ seminal 1843 novella A Christmas carol stars Reynolds as Clint Briggs, a manipulative PR shark whose status as “unredeemable” does nothing but excite Ferrell’s defiant Ghost of Christmas Present. However, Briggs manages to turn the tables on Present, forcing the ghost to investigate its own afterlife existence in the Sean Anders-directed film, featuring original music from La La Land and The greatest showman hitmakers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

Speaking of The greatest showmandenies Reynolds Witty is his attempt to keep up with the Music Man himself, longtime friend/fake enemy Hugh Jackman, whom Reynolds recently joined Deadpool3 too much fanfare.

“Not even remotely,” Reynolds laughs. “Singing and dancing is in that man’s DNA. It’s not in mine.”

However, Reynolds says he was comforted by his partnership with Ferrell, as both delved into a new genre together. (While the pair both appeared briefly in the 1999 comedy Thick, witty marks the first time they share the screen together.)

“He and I had to do this together in a way neither of us had ever stepped into a full musical before,” says Reynolds. “We both had elements in movies where we might sing for a bit or do something like that, but not a musical. So for both of us we were a bit out of our depth. So I had a comrade in that process. I had someone by my side whom I could feel sorry for [with] together.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 07: Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell attend Apple Original Films

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell attend the New York premiere of “Spirited” at Lincoln Center on November 7, 2022. (Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images, )

Perhaps it helped that in 2003 Ferrell already had a bona fide contemporary Christmas classic to his name Eleven. Maybe not.

“Those are some big shoes to jump into,” says Reynolds. “That’s a movie my kids and my whole family watch every Christmas.”

Eleven is a stone-cold reminder that, in the end, it seems like there are only two kinds of Christmas movies. The ones that become classics, to be watched or streamed by the masses every holiday season. Or those who are simply forgotten.

“You don’t know,” Reynolds says. ‘I mean, nobody knows. The funny thing is I think you can’t really judge a great movie or something that people come back to years later. There are movies that we all know and love and obsess over that didn’t necessarily work at the time. I mean you can go back as far as The Wizard of Oz to think about that. You can go as far back as It’s a great life. Movies that didn’t land theatrical or pierce the zeitgeist in a way people might have wanted, but have stood the test of time time and time again.

“One thing I know about the entertainment industry at age 46 after doing this for 30 years is that I know nothing. You just don’t know anything. And that is one thing I am sure of.”

Reynolds is also confident that despite the “obscenely challenging and scary” experience of channeling his inner Fred Astaire (or Hugh Jackman) into a musical for the first time, he ended up really enjoying it.

“I don’t pretend to be the best in the world, but gosh I loved to sing and dance,” says Reynolds. “I just loved every second of it. It really was so much fun, especially when things went well. It was a feeling like no other.”

Witty now playing in select theaters and will be streaming worldwide on Apple+ starting November 18.

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