One of the most bizarre twists in Free Guy was already spoiled by the marketing a couple of weeks back, when it was revealed that Ryan Reynolds would have his face jarringly pasted onto a huge musclebound freak named Dude. Essentially an upgraded version of our title hero, the behemoth is an unfinished build that possesses plenty of strength, yet very little in the way of intelligence.
Even his dialogue is unfinished, with his catchphrase literally being the world “catchphrase”, something Taika Waititi’s nefarious Antwan believes will catch on due to the irony of it all. It’s basically the ‘hero fights evil mirror version of themself’ that we’ve seen in dozens of superhero blockbusters, but Free Guy manages to make it feel fresh based on how entirely ridiculous and unconvincing it is to see Reynolds’ face atop such bountiful shoulders.
In a new interview, director Shawn Levy broke down how Dude came to be, and it really was as simple as a straightforward copy and paste job involving a hulking a bodybuilder and an A-list movie star.
“What we did was early on, we had this idea, Ryan and I. This character was not in the script, but we had this idea, what if Ryan has to fight Ryan? But what if it’s an upgrade? What if it’s Ryan 2.0? Taller, more muscular, more hairless, more streaks and tips hair, so we literally cast a bodybuilder out of LA. And his body was just sick and massive, and he made Ryan look like a fragile little feather
So, we cast this dude, Aaron Reed, and Aaron did the whole movie with dots on his face. Those are tracking markers. Later then, we put Ryan in a motion capture device called the egg. It all sounds very futuristic. We were like, “Ryan, enter the egg.” And it’s a machine where Ryan then did every line as Dude looking at lights in the motion capture egg, and then we digitally cut and morphed Ryan’s real face on Aaron’s body.”
Reynolds also explained why he thought the scene would work, even if it involved him having to pull double duty and record the dialogue all over again from the ominous-sounding Egg.
“It really came to be just Shawn and I sitting in my apartment in New York and going, ‘We need something for Guy to fight, to physically fight against’, because the enemy in the real world is Taika Waititi’s character of Antoine, and we’re never going to face off, so we have to find some anthropomorphic sized version of Taika’s character to fight. And that’s where we came up with Dude, which would just be an upgraded version of my character. And how do we upgrade him? We give him bright, white Chiclet teeth.
You give him about an extra 180 pounds of muscle on top of what I would already have. So the guy weighs 300 plus pounds. He’s six foot seven. He’s tan. He’s gorgeous. He’s got his frosted highlighted hair, and that’s our guy that’s going to come into the game to just completely kick the ever-loving sh*t out of my character, Guy. And we loved this concept and this idea as soon as it came about. So from then on, it was just the fun part of just manifesting the reality of it.”
Ryan Reynolds is not a short or skinny man by any stretch of the imagination, but he looks positively tiny next to the monstrous Reed, who’s so jacked he looks as though he’ll burst at any moment. It’s a bizarre third act confrontation without a doubt, but one that definitely both makes sense and totally works within the context of Free Guy and its video game-inspired narrative.