On the occasion of Ryan Reynolds’ 42nd birthday on October 23, Gold Derby takes a look back at the actor’s film career and chooses his greatest 15 film performances. Tour our photo gallery above to see how they are ranked from worst to best.
Born in Canada the actor started acting at a young age when he landed a role on a Canadian television teenage soap opera. He then proceeded to work in both Canadian and American television, ultimately finding minor fame on the moderately successful sitcom “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.”
Reynolds managed to pull off the unthinkable in 2016 when he managed to get a Golden Globe nomination for Best Comedy/Musical Actor for “Deadpool.” That is a bit of a rare achievement since superhero films and awards rarely go together.
While his career has had its ups and downs and he hasn’t always been able to escape his snarky wise guy persona, Reynolds has managed to maintain a career that includes action, comedy and the occasional dramatic performance. His personal life has often also put him in the spotlight with a marriage to Scarlett Johansson from 2008 to 2011 and then marrying Blake Lively after they starred in the film “Green Lantern.”
15. THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD (2017)
Reynolds has bounced around a lot in film genres and sometimes he combined them. This action thriller focuses more on Reynolds darker qualities. He co-stars with Samuel L. Jackson as a former CIA agent who is hired to protect a Japanese arms dealer. That doesn’t go well and the dealer is killed leaving Reynolds character disgraced.
14. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (2005)
Based on a supposedly true story of a family in Amityville, New York this film is a remake of the original 1979 version which starred James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger. The story is one of a family who moves into a home where they hear voices telling them to “get out.” The Amityville story has spawned nearly a dozen films based on this theme but Reynolds version was the first remake of the original.
13. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VAN WILDER (2002)
While the film didn’t exactly impress critics, this was a pivotal film for Reynolds and helped him transition from sitcom star to movie actor. He plays a college student who has been attending school for seven years without earning a degree. Instead of pursuing academics he has mostly been known for partying. His partying has made him sort of a legend among his college peers. His status as a perennial student is threatened when his father (played by “Animal House” party animal Tim Matheson) threatens to stop paying his tuition.
12. BLADE: TRINITY (2004)
It was sort of a surprise when Reynolds was hired to bring his snarky sardonic humor to this popular vampire series of films. The move proved to be a smart one and Reynolds brightens up the third film in the series which may have suffered had he not been among the cast.
11. THE IN-LAWS (2003)
The original 1979 film is a much-loved cult hit starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin (just say “serpentine, serpentine” to any movie buff and they’ll likely know where it came from). Reynolds plays the son of Michael Douglas in this version, an undercover CIA agent who inadvertently gets his in-law (Albert Brooks) involved in a conflict way beyond his tolerance level.
10. GREEN LANTERN (2011)
“Green Lantern” was an unexpected box office flop for Reynolds. Due to its huge budget the film barely made its money back despite the long popularity of the character. The character was long a staple of DC Comics dating back to the 1940s.
9. DICK (1999)
“Dick” is an overlooked comedy about two eccentric teenage girls who managed to become central figures in the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon. Reynolds has a small role in the film that features stellar comedic performances from Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams as the teenagers and Dan Hedaya as Nixon.
8. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009)
Reynolds brought his trademark wiseacre persona to this story of how the Wolverine character of the X-Men came to be. Reynolds plays a sword fighting character who is as quick with a joke as he is with a sword. The character would eventually evolve into “Deadpool.”
7. JUST FRIENDS (2005)
Reynolds stars as an overweight high school geek whose rejection by the girl he loves sends him on a path of self-improvement. He returns home for Christmas as a hot shot womanizer bent on flaunting his new self in front of his old high school tormenters.
6. SAFE HOUSE (2012)
Reynolds teamed with Oscar Winner Denzel Washington for this thriller. The two play CIA agents involved in a complicated plot of intrigue set in South Africa.
5. ADVENTURELAND (2009)
“Adventureland” is set in a small-town amusement park during the 1980s. Reynolds plays the parks big talking lothario who cheats on his wife with as many women as he can while often boasting about his supposedly big moments in his music career.
4. LIFE (2017)
This science fiction story is set on the International Space Station where astronauts discover a life form that they believe was responsible for destroying life on Mars. The team must now work to make sure that earth isn’t destroyed the same way Mars was. Comparisons to “Alien” are inevitable with this film but it does have some merits of its own.
3. THE PROPOSAL (2009)
Reynolds plays the put-upon assistant of a powerful career woman in this comedy that earned Bullock a Golden Globe nomination. When Bullock finds out her visa may be revoked and she could be deported back to Canada she forces her assistant to marry her. The film was also notable for restarting interest in Betty White’s career.
2. DEFINITELY MAYBE (2008)
Reynolds plays a man facing a divorce who tries to explain how he got where he is to his young daughter. The girl becomes curious of how her parents met and wants to know how her political consultant father ended up the way he did. Reynolds and the film received strong reviews.
1. DEADPOOL (2016)
“Deadpool” earned Ryan Reynolds a Golden Globe nomination and the film itself was nominated in the top picture race. That is a pretty unusual feat for a superhero film but with its dark comedy and Reynolds offbeat performance Deadpool managed to not be your typical superhero film. The film’s sequel released in 2018 was also a huge hit.