Once it was announced that the first live action Pokemon movie would be based on the Great Detective Pikachu video game, fans immediately started speculating on who would voice this special version of the electrically-charged mouse creature, who can speak like a human. Names like Danny DeVito and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson were suggested and/or rumored, but in the end, Ryan Reynolds scored the role.
Ryan Reynolds is basically using his regular voice for Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, but when he first joined the project, he was interested in taking his Pikachu’s vocals in a much different direction, only for his suggestion to get shot down. As Reynolds recalled:
It’s almost like Who Framed Roger Rabbit had a baby with Blade Runner. I was like ‘That’s cool!’ So I was like ‘Okay, lemme do an old school, gumshoe, Columbo/Peter Faulk sort of Brooklyn kind of thing.’ And they were like ‘Yeah, ok. Maybe just do Ryan Reynolds.’
I can see where Ryan Reynolds was going with this. Since his Pikachu is a crime-solving Pokemon complete with deerstalker cap, in theory it makes sense he’d want to channel the classic detective persona, like Peter Faulk did as Columbo for decades on TV. Then again, while Reynolds is a talented movie star, he’s not known best for impressions and weird voices.
So ultimately, as Ryan Reynolds explained during his visit to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, he was politely asked to just make the character sound like himself. Or as Reynolds joked about what they told him, “Maybe shut up a bit, and do the other thing.” The benefit of taking this vocal approach is that it’s immediately clear that Reynolds is the voice behind Pikachu, so folks who weren’t initially interested in Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, but now know Reynolds is involved, might be more inclined to see it if they’re fans of his.
Ryan Reynolds’ Pikachu teams up with Justice Smith’s Tim Goodman in Pokemon: Detective Pikachu to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Tim’s father, Harry, and amusingly, Tim is the only one who can understand this strange Pikachu. The movie’s cast also includes Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy, Chris Geere and Omar Chaparro.
Reception towards Pokemon: Detective Pikachu has been mostly positive so far (it ranks at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes), and early box office projections placed it at making somewhere between $75-$90 million opening weekend. A sequel has already been given the green light, and Pokemon: Detective Pikachu could also become the first installment of a full-blown cinematic universe. There’s definitely no shortage of content from Pokemon video games and anime series to inspire more movies.
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu charges into theaters a week from now, on May 10. If you’re interested in learning what other movies are coming out later this year, look through our 2019 release schedule.