THUNDER BAY — Ryan Reynolds says he’s open to the idea of attending a future Wake the Giant Music Festival.
The Canadian movie star, best known for his role as the title character in Deadpool, not to mention being one of the highest grossing actors of all-time, on Wednesday virtually joined a media club at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, answering questions about his career — and even addressed rumours he’s interested in being part of the new ownership group with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
The 46-year-old Vancouver native, whose most recent works include Pokemon: Detective Pikachu and Free Guy, was intrigued about the annual festival, an event designed to welcome Indigenous students from remote northern communities who study in Thunder Bay.
“Do I have to know how to play a musical instrument or something?” Reynolds deadpanned.
“No,” he was told by school student chief Derek Monias of Sandy Lake First Nation, who conducted the Zoom interview with Reynolds.
“That might be a deal-breaker,” Reynolds said. “Yeah, I would love that. I would love an invite. You guys know where to find me now. You found me here. Assuming I’m not across the pond in England, shooting the next Deadpool movie, I would love to be part of something like that.”
That Reynolds would agree to speak to an Indigenous class should come as no surprise. Earlier this year he and his wife, actress Blake Lively, donated $500,000 to an organization dedicated to bringing clean water to Indigenous communities and last year the Hollywood power couple donated $250,000 to help launch a Canadian mentorship program for Indigenous high-school students in Canada.
Monias said the school’s media club was recently bandying about ideas for guests to interview when Reynolds’ name came up. With the help of CBC Thunder Bay, the connection was made.
Reynolds, who dialed in from New York, was asked about his acting origins in Ottawa, his struggles to find follow-up work, leading him to a grocery store job and his return to show business via impromptu comedy, which led him to Los Angeles.
“That was my main goal going down there. It wasn’t to work in films, it was to be on stage,” Reynolds told the class.
Asked about his outside interests, such as owning a Welsh soccer club, Reynolds said there’s a connective tissue that binds his interests.
“It’s all storytelling. I love stories. Stories can be found anywhere. You’re a journalist, Derek, so you understand that almost better than anyone. It’s always about the story. You don’t know where it’s going or what it’s going to be, but if you’re listening and you have a pretty open mind, and an open heart as you’re doing it, you can cover some pretty spectacular moments,” he said.
As for the Senators ownership bid, Reynolds said there’s not much he can say about the situation at this time.
“I think the Ottawa Senators organization can explode, not just within its own community, in Canada, but also globally and that’s something I’m deeply interested in. But we’ll see. We’ll see where it shakes out.”
Reynolds said his support of Water First was to help Indigenous communities empower themselves.
“I think that’s super important. I look at it like (this). If a neighbourhood in the Greater Toronto region, or Vancouver or any major city in the country of Canada had water that was undrinkable, the way it is in a lot of First Nations and Indigenous communities, that problem I feel would be solved pretty quickly,” Reynolds said.
“I think there’s a level of inequity and injustice and that it hasn’t been a priority.”
Afterwards, Monias said it was a thrill to speak to Reynolds on such a wide variety of topics.
“At first I was so nervous, up to the days leading up to it, but then after I asked him a few questions and getting into the zone, it didn’t feel like I was talking to Ryan Reynolds, the super celebrity. I thought I was talking to Ryan Reynolds, a friend,” Monias said.
Teacher Greg Chomut said it was pretty unbelievable, to say the least.
“We sent out a bunch of requests for interviews, as part of a class project that we did in collaboration and partnership with the CBC, and right away Ryan Reynolds responded. You never think your high school class is going to be interviewing Ryan Reynolds, but it all came together,” said Chomut, a history, art and music teacher at the Thunder Bay school.