Free Guy plays out like a love letter to gaming and comedy fans alike, something that Shawn Levy (Stranger Things) set out to achieve early on as the film’s director.
Starring Ryan Reynolds as an NPC (non-playable character) named “Guy” who becomes self-aware in a game that resembles something between SimCity, Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto, Free Guy truly is a joy from start to finish, and it’s largely the gaming elements that drive its story that keep it upbeat, funny and refreshing.
During a virtual press conference alongside stars Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery and Taika Waititi ahead of the film’s release, Levy told Supanova that Free Guy “was about threading the needle between wanting to represent the gaming world correctly and accurately”.
“And for that, I spoke with a lot of game publishers, coders and game designers, and played and watched a lot of games in pre-production,” he revealed.
“Getting that right was really important, but it was also important to make a movie that required no gaming fluency.
“So, kind of trying to tick both boxes was always part of the goal and something we worked really hard to achieve.”
To help bring that authenticity to Free Guy, Levy also enlisted some of gamings most influential figures for cameos, including Imane “Pokimane” Anys, Seán William “Jacksepticeye” McLoughlin, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Daniel “DanTDM” Middleton and Australia’s own Lannan “LazarBeam” Eacott.
Speaking with Supanova during a separate one-on-one interview, LazarBeam said viewers can “expect honesty” from Free Guy and that “it is genuine”.
“You can look forward to a very fun experience, a very chaotic experience,” Eacott said.
“I think the main thing about the movie is that they did their very best to be honest for the gaming elements they incorporated into it, including myself and the other gamers and stuff like that.
“That’s the main thing I take away from it, is that [Levy] really wanted to do his best to make it genuine.”
In regard to how Eacott became involved with the film, “from what I remember, they really wanted to find authentic gamers and people from our industry to bring on board,” he noted.
“I think they asked a bunch of teenagers and stuff who the best gamers are and stuff like that. Shout out to those guys because they threw my name into that, so I’ve got them to thank for it.
“Then they just reached out. I didn’t understand why they would want me. I was just in my pyjamas making a Fornite video or something at that point.
“Then they were just like, ‘Yeah, we want you to be part of it.’ I didn’t understand, but then we had a conversation about what I would actually be doing and how it’s all going to play out, and then it started making a lot more sense.
“I think when you see the movie, you’ll understand how it all fits together and why it does make sense, because it definitely fits in very naturally.”
From his bedroom to a massive studio in LA, it was a quick adjustment.
“I’m used to just sitting here in front of my camera doing what any of us do,” Eacott told.
“This guy comes and touches your makeup up between every take and they do your hair. The director’s like, ‘Okay, do it this way. Do it that way. Do it this way.’ You’re doing it 100 times and all these people are waiting on you to move on and move to the next thing.
“You’re just trying to get it right. Trying to get it done. Everyone was very nice and very welcoming and obviously very understanding to the point that I had no idea how to act, but it still was terrifying.
“I’m a socially anxious person on the best of days, let alone on a massive Hollywood set, so it was very terrifying, but they did a very good job of making it comfortable.”
And in regard to working with Ryan Reynolds?
“Well, we’re best friends now – we’re incredibly close. We talk daily now,” he joked. “No, I didn’t actually get to meet him, unfortunately. But he does follow me on Twitter. That’s up there with the life achievements.”
FREE GUY – in cinemas August 12, NSW September 9.
LEAD IMAGE: Ryan Reynolds and director Shawn Levy on the set of 20th Century Studios’ ‘Free Guy’. Photo by Alan Markfield