When Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds first met Sandra Bullock nine years ago, through a dinner with a mutual friend, he says they “hit it off” and decided to go out to a dance club.
“Next thing I knew she was dirty dancing to George Michael and I was having the best time of my life,” the Vancouver native recalled in an interview. ‘“We’ve been friends ever since.”
That’s the sort of chemistry Reynolds and Bullock hope translates to the screen in their new romantic comedy, The Proposal.
Bullock plays the driven editor-in-chief of a book publisher while Reynolds is her put-upon assistant. When Bullock’s character — a Canadian — lets her Visa expire and faces deportation, Reynolds agrees to help her stay in the U.S. by marrying her in exchange for a promotion.
After the impending union is called into question by a pesky immigration official, Bullock is forced to travel to Reynolds’ hometown of Sitka, Alaska (actually a disguised Massachusetts) and play nice for his family, who are gathered to celebrate his grandmother’s (Betty White) 90th birthday.
Directed by Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses), The Proposal is a breezy, light-hearted film that depends on the sharp interplay between its leads to rise just above standard romantic comedy fare, which is part of what Reynolds liked about it.
“What attracted me was the dynamic between these two,” Reynolds said. “It’s such a one-way relationship where the assistant knows everything there is to know about the boss and the boss knows absolutely nothing about the assistant.
“Moreover, this is a guy who’s deeply abused in his job and taken for granted in unspeakable ways. I like the notion that the tables get turned.
“I like the thought that this guy, who’s been so bullied by this woman, gets all the power back all of a sudden and, in doing so, how he chooses to use that power is kind of interesting to me and hilarious.”
One of the film’s funniest moments put Reynolds’ and Bullock’s friendship to the test.
While forced to share a room in Reynolds’ sprawling family home, a series of coincidences leads to Reynolds and Bullock smashing into one another and inadvertently wrestling each other to the ground — while completely naked.
Though Reynolds notes that cavorting naked on the set with Bullock was “certainly enviable for a lot of guys out there,” he says nerves about the scene — one of the last they shot — persisted through the making of the movie.
“I wish we’d got it out of the way at the beginning because it was this thing where we had this monolithic task ahead of us to spend two days stark naked and vulnerable in Massachusetts together,” said Reynolds, who’s married to actress Scarlett Johansson. “But we got through it.
“The first hour or two were just unbelievably weird. You’re naked with your friend that you’ve known for nine years, and it’s all there.
“After a few hours of slamming into each other and doing naked stunts all day, you start to lose those things,” he said.
“Once your humility is completely gone and your shame is completely gone, you just sort of forget about it and you say, ‘Let’s just shoot it again. Let’s get this out of the way.”’
“After a few hours you get really comfortable, then you start to forget that you’re naked. That’s awkward. Not for me, for other people.”
The film’s citizenship dilemma is still foreign to Reynolds, a Canadian citizen who works in the U.S. “under a green card situation.”
Will he ever decide to take on U.S. citizenship?
“We’ll see — I might decide it’s time to upgrade to a really secure social security system,” he quipped sarcastically.