Free Guy’s Shawn Levy on the Difficulty of Unexplored Movies and Video Games

A player from Free Guy's Free City game wears a gas mask and fires a rifle as Ryan Reynold's Guy walks past a curious man in a long-sleeved blue shirt and black rimmed glasses.

Ryan Reynolds walks the game Free city in Free guy.
Photo: 20th century workshops

If things had worked in a different way, Shawn Levy would have directed Unexplored. Few years ago, the producer / director behind mega-hits like Strange things, Night at the museum, and Shadow and bone was on track to bring the popular adventure video game series to the big screen. However, as it tends to happen, “the timing didn’t work” according to Levy, and instead he did free guy with Ryan Reynolds, which opens this Friday.

Instead of one big budget video game adventure, Levy found himself creating another, with one key difference: Unexplored was based on a popular franchise while free guy was not. Levy thinks that’s why his last movie turned out to be such a good video game movie although many game adaptations are not. “What I know from experience, having come a little way with Nathan Drake and that Unexplored The title is that you can tell a story on screen, but you have to be true to the expectations of the game and the expectations of the players of the original franchise, ”Levy told io9 last week. “It will always put safeguards on your storytelling. “

He had no railing with free guy, which started as a 2016 blacklist scriptt by Matt Lieberman and added co-writer Zak Penn (Loan Player One) along the way. “Look, I can’t wait to see Unexplored also, but for me as a director to have absolute freedom, absolute creative freedom where I’m beholden to nothing but the ideas that were exciting for Ryan and me, that was really fun, ”said Levy. “And that’s not the case when you make a video game adaptation, a real video game movie in that regard. There will always be settings you need to be aware of.

Ryan Reynolds with director Shawn Levy.

Ryan reynolds with director Shawn Levy.
Photo: 20th century workshops

Levy, who say that the Tom Holland and Ruben Fleischer Unexplored what comes is “a lot the script that i spent a lot of time developing”, knows that making a movie is sometimes a miracle. This is even more true for a film like free guy, which is not only based on an original idea, but had to make its way through Disney’s purchase of Fox. When Disney acquired the studio, several Fox titles that were in development have been canceled. But no Free guy.

“The holy grail in the world of cinema is a great idea of ​​its own and free guy has that kind of central premise, ”Levy said when asked how the film managed to overcome these obstacles. “I think it also helps that between Ryan and me we did studios several billion dollars at the box office and they know we don’t take our jobs lightly. If you give us money to tell our story, we want to treat your money with respect and hopefully make more money for you. So I think they knew that with Ryan and me that was our sweet spot. It’s an action comedy. We both know how to do this and we were going to be responsible for the budget and we were going to serve this great idea with a great entertaining popcorn movie.

Free Guy in Free City.

Free guy in Free city.
Photo: 20th century workshops

In Free guy, Reynolds plays Guy, an NPC (non-playable character) in an open world shooter called Free city. Eventually, he becomes aware of himself and gets involved in a plot that will be at the heart of the game itself. This means Levy was making a movie that had a whole other layer on top of the usual movie issues. “The big freedom factor in making this movie is that I have to make an original movie and I have to make a completely original video game,” he said. “So the only rules or mythologies I had to stick to were the ones we made up.”

Levy says he and his team have played a ton of games, taking inspiration from each of them. Lighting from one, weapons and vehicles from the other, always being aware not to touch someone else’s property too closely. That inspiration and creativity spilled over into the script as well. “The script Ryan and I first read was always about an NPC realizing and trying to improve the world around him. So it was a huge idea and it never changed,” he said. said Levy. “But the characters in Mouser (Perfect‘s Utkarsh Ambudkar) and keys (Strange things‘Joe Keery), and the kind of double life of Millie and Molotov Girl (Kill Eve‘s Jodie Comer), these are things that we have developed and rewritten a bit, because Ryan and I really wanted to make a movie that was on the one hand, yes, a video game movie, but also a romantic comedy. And so we spent a lot of time strengthening and developing the romantic storyline[s]. “

Shawn Levy with Joe Keery and Utkarsh Ambudkar.  Yeah, that's weird.

Shawn Levy with Joe Keery and Utkarsh Amboudkar. Yeah, that’s weird.

free guyThe mixture of several genres is, again, something that is quite familiar to Levy. In addition to his prolific career as a producer, he has completed several other sci-fi action projects such as Night at the museum and Real steel. The last helped him specifically on free guy. “Real steel taught me not to be afraid of technology that I didn’t understand when I started, and that you can learn new things as a filmmaker. And in fact, that’s one of the things that makes this job so fun. It [also] taught me that whenever possible, incorporate practical effects into visual effects, ”Levy said. “Soon Real steel, we built real robots. On free guy, when they walk through this city of chaos and there are flamethrowers and bombs exploding and avatars armed with zipline machine guns, everything is real. Everything is real. And so even though it took a lot of time and energy to coordinate the actors with the actual effects, with the visual effects, it’s worth it because it gives your actors more to react and to act out, and that gives the film itself a more grounded and accessible feeling.

Levy brings all of this and more to his next film, The Adam project, which debuts next year on Netflix. He calls him “the clearest descendant of Real steel”, In that it’s an original sci-fi premise that also has big family themes. “Adam Project is like Real steel, a great sci-fi premise for a very emotional drama with a ton of shit action, ”Levy said. “This is literally Ryan Reynolds coming back from the future to befriend himself 12 years old and his late father, whom he lost in his childhood and the opportunity for empathy, redemption and of forgiveness.

It looks like a very small bulleye to strike—bUtah after free guy, Levy has it. The film is released this Friday in theaters only.

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