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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Life. If you have not yet seen the film, please bookmark this page and save it to read after your screening!
While Life marks the first time that director Daniel Espinosa and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have collaborated, they do share one thing in common: past work with Ryan Reynolds. The actor worked with the former on the thriller Safe House, the latter two on the superhero comedy Deadpool. Given these relationships, you'd think that the actor would be the one to survive to the end of their new science-fiction thriller Life... but the truth is that he's the first one killed off. It's a surprising move, but as Reynolds recently explained to me, it's a choice that he really loved:
I just wanted to see it implemented how much those guys hate me. And that's really what we're seeing on the screen -- let's put him in the movie, and let's kill him right away... It was good to do a half a movie with them again. I like it. I like it when we undermine convention and expectation in inventive ways. So if anyone really knows movies, 'Oh, Ryan's worked with Daniel, and with Rhett and Paul. They're going to take good care of him,' you know? No, he's X-ed out right at the beginning there.
I spoke with Ryan Reynolds about his characters' untimely demise during the Austin, Texas press day for Life, having personally been legitimately surprised by the fact that his character in the movie, Rory Adams, is the first casualty at the hands of the alien menace known as 'Calvin.' As Reynolds explains, however, that shock is most definitely intentional, as you do legitimately think that his relationships with the filmmakers would keep him around for longer in the story (it's also most definitely weird when one of the headlining stars spends more of the film's runtime dead than alive).
In addition to speaking with Ryan Reynolds -- who was having a blast sitting beside co-star Jake Gyllenhaal -- I also had the pleasure of spending part of the press day with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who were more than happy to talk about their collaboration with Reynolds. Wernick noted that the part of Rory was always written with the Canadian actor in mind -- joking that he is their muse -- and stressed that he feels everything they write would suit Reynolds well. Continuing that thought, Reese told me that they were also able to get his immediate attention with the script, telling me the story of the star's first reading experience:
He got the script right before he got on a plane, and he landed and he texted us immediately from the tarmac, basically saying, 'Thanks for ruining my flight. It made me anxious the whole way. I want to do this thing!'
Following up and diving into spoiler territory, I asked the writers about having Ryan Reynolds die early in the film, and Rhett Reese explained that it was always part of the plan -- as it both surprises the audience and serves the character. Said Reese,
It's like they say, kill your darlings! We're killing our darling on this one. We just thought that would be a shock for the audience -- and it's a reflection of his heroism to sacrifice himself for another member of the crew. So we like that surprise. And we thought his death scene is so horrifying! And the look on his face just haunts me.
You can watch Ryan Reynolds talk about the death of Rory Adams and his collaboration with Daniel Espinosa and Rhett Reese in the video below: