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“Anyone who knows me knows how much I love an evening devoted entirely to me,” Ryan Reynolds joked when receiving his American Cinematheque Award in Los Angeles on Thursday night, and love it or not that’s exactly what he got. The actor was the 36th recipient of the prestigious honor and was celebrated with an evening highlighting his success across acting, producing and his many entrepreneurial ventures, by a roster of friends and colleagues including Will Ferrell, Hugh Jackman, Octavia Spencer, Helen Mirren, Salma Hayek, Shawn Levy and wife Blake Lively.
While the program showcased the many facets of Reynolds’ career via segments titled “The Comedian,” “The Sexy Man,” “The Serious Man” and “The Smart Ass” — and even featured a ballroom-wide singing of the Canadian national anthem (as Reynolds is the first Canadian to win the award) — Lively’s speech toward the end of the night proved to be the breakout.
With the couple’s two oldest daughters in attendance and currently pregnant with their fourth child, Lively noted how the star has always had something in him that has beckoned him home, starting from when he first moved to L.A. to pursue acting and would drive home to Canada every weekend.
“Now I am his home, and his girls are his home, and just like that 19-year-old boy he races home, whether it’s from across the globe or a meeting across the street; he is hardwired to get home,” Lively told the crowd in the Beverly Hilton ballroom. “If he came home from set not in his wardrobe we would be very concerned — soaked in mud, fake blood, real blood, prosthetic scars, superhero suits, tap shoes or clown makeup, Daddy always comes home.”
“That man races back to his real life like nothing I have ever seen, especially not by someone who is able to be so all-in in his work life,” she continued. “He’s able to somehow be everything to everyone all at once; he is the most present person you will ever meet. And yes he creates magic in his work, but man oh man does he create magic in his real life.”
Reynolds’ frequent collaborator Levy — who is reteaming with him for Deadpool 3 and teased that if the third one does not live up to the previous two, it will be the fault of Jackman, who is joining the project as Wolverine — also highlighted Lively in his speech as Reynolds’s superpower and his entire world, noting, “One of the most beautiful things is I don’t think a day has gone by in the four years we’ve been working together that he doesn’t acknowledge that and express gratitude for that.”
Levy, who was the night’s last speaker, jokingly also complained that no one told him he was “going to be fucking 17th, and everyone who goes before you are actual professional actors and comedians and leaders of nations. They’re going to fucking pillage every idea you had, so I have nothing original.” But Levy summed up Reynolds as “more than a great artist, he’s a great man.”
Ferrell, who costars with Reynolds in their new Apple TV+ musical Spirited, was Reynolds’ first presenter, commenting that past recipients of the American Cinematheque Award have included “Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jodie Foster and Sean Connery, just to name a few. And tonight you chose Mr. Ryan Reynolds. What were you thinking? What happened? Who fell through? He’s not even American, he’s Canadian!”
He also had some kind words, though, saying, “Ryan Rodney Reynolds, or Ry-Rod, as you are affectionately called by your fans, you are an incredibly talented actor, filmmaker, businessman, but more importantly you’re just a great guy and I’m lucky to be able to call you a friend.”
Hayek, Mirren, Jackman, Jeff Bridges and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent in video messages, and Spencer, Nathan Fillion, Mary Steenburgen and Rob McElhenney served as in-person presenters. McElhenney purchased Welsh soccer club Wrexham A.F.C alongside Reynolds two years ago, and he said, “there’s a strong chance that we’re in this thing together for the rest of our lives. And I can honestly say that there’s no person on Earth that I would rather be doing this with than Ryan.”
When Reynolds finally took the stage to accept his award, he admitted “I’ve never really taken myself too seriously, as many of you know, and it creates a pretty confounding paradox when I’m celebrated by a very serious award show with prestigious company like this.” He recalled Bridges once gesturing to a room full of actors and producers and proclaiming, “This is our tribe, man,” which is something he didn’t relate to at the time.
“While I’ve been given the privilege to play in different fields and sandboxes, I’m mindful that I’m primarily known as a movie actor, and that is humbling because movies bring people together in ways both figurative and literal,” Reynolds said. “That togetherness feeling is, more than anything else, what I yearn for, what I yearn to create,” adding that so much of what he does is for his daughters.
“Most importantly I get to spend my days working with my favorite collaborator of all, my wife Blake. You are the greatest ghostwriter in Hollywood history, you have literally authored me into this moment,” he continued, before wrapping up: “Here I am standing before you with this fancy and beautiful trophy, drenched in all of this privilege and luck and gratitude, and despite what I thought of Jeff Bridges’ comment years ago, I’m starting to suspect I may be part of a community.”
Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions were also honored as part of the evening, receiving the Power of Cinema Award from Hill Valley; Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley presented to him, teasing to Blum, “I just have to warn you that your co-honoree this evening, Ryan, is very funny and makes very funny movies, so he has funny people introducing him. You make scary movies so you have this scary person introducing you.”
“He’s crazy, he’s bold, he’s fearless, he’s brave, and I have to say, Jason, your partnership and friendship have been invaluable,” Langley said. “I’m just so proud that you’ve chosen to make Universal your home for more than a decade.”
Taking the stage, Blum noted, “It’s funny to be up here accepting an award because everyone in Hollywood says we don’t do it for the awards, which we know is not true, but in horror it kind of is actually true because the awards for horror are few and far between, so this is very, very cool.”
“For a long time at Blumhouse we’ve been kind of a group of misfit outsiders — we’re not allowed to think of ourselves like that anymore I suppose, especially here tonight that feels silly to say, but I still do feel that way, which I’m happy about actually — working in a genre that we love, with some of the most creative filmmakers in our business,” he continued, dedicating the award to all of the filmmakers his company has worked with — including James Wan, who Blum is in talks with to merge their two horror production companies. “I’m very, very excited for what might come when we all hopefully work together,” he said of that partnership, while also thanking “lunatic horror fans. There are millions and millions of misfits and outsiders who come to watch our Blumhouse films in theaters and have a shared experience of being scared together.”
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Samuel L. Jackson