free guy impressed moviegoers earlier this year with its varied action scenes starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer and Channing Tatum. Now the movie is available in digital, 4K, and Blu-ray.
“A bank teller (Ryan Reynolds) who finds out he’s actually a background player in an open-world video game decides to become the hero of his own story, which he rewrites himself,” the synopsis explains. official film. “Now, in a world of no limits, he’s determined to be the guy who saves his world his way… before it’s too late.”
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ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to supervising stunt coordinator Chris O’Hara about free guythe action scenes of, what changed during his career and his work on the comedy of Jake Gyllenhaal bubble boy.
Tyler Treese: Chris, I was really curious, how did you get into stunt work? It’s such an interesting area to tackle.
Chris O’Hara: I was a gymnast in university and so when I was in university I focused more on gymnastics than on my studies. When I got out of college I had a stack of applications to continue my studies and that meant a summer of prerequisites that I had to take and I didn’t fill out any applications and didn’t take any of the prerequisites. I never really felt like I had reached the peak of my gymnastic career, so I wanted to continue something that kind of allowed me to compete and perform and keep going somehow. So I kind of went into that phase of wanting to be a stuntman. Being a gymnast is a good base, gymnastics and martial arts are a great base for a stuntman. So being a six foot tall former varsity gymnast was a great way to break into the industry.
Free Guy is just action packed. What was the most difficult stunt you coordinated and worked on here?
All the action was driven by history. So it wasn’t super crazy above. I think one of the trickier scenes we did was pretty much right out of the gate, the first scene with like Channing Tatum sort of walking into town, skydiving, and then mixing up what was the real-life action of a visual effects world and trying to get that and match that in that world and then recreate it with live action elements and blue screen stuff. So as far as just a mental challenge of trying to work everything together, I think that’s where it was just one of those scenes that way. As far as it wasn’t a huge, crazy, exploding all over the place thing, but it was a good scene to get a feel for and push the boundaries a bit.
Ryan Reynolds has a very unique brand of action. He mixes up a lot of everyone’s charisma and he doesn’t really always play a badass. There’s more of a comedic element to working on something like that, an action comedy. Is it something that changes your approach, or is it a bit the same?
I’ll say the person you see and Ryan Reynolds in every interview, every movie, everything is who he is. So he doesn’t water it down for anyone. He’s just that kind of guy and so he’s funny all the time. Even if he doesn’t try to be, he still is. So bringing that to the character that he’s done in the past is I think he’s just such a nice guy and people love that. So making a comedic action movie like this, it’s just fun to have another layer in the story. Again you think the action is action driven, but I think the comedic beats and comedic timing of some scenes with layers in the action are really cool. It’s a challenge to make it cool, but I think it’s really fun. I think the audience kind of said they liked a comedic action movie. Well, maybe whatever Ryan Reynolds touches everyone loves.
We kind of already know what Ryan brings to the table, but I was pleasantly surprised at how badass Jodie Comer was as a Molotovgirl. She just looked amazing in this role. What was it like working with her and was she able to pick up on it quickly? It seemed so natural.
What we do is we want the actors to be somehow involved as much as possible when it’s safe. Molotovgirl in the game, she’s just that badass. So you put on her leather pants, a wig on her, her aviator glasses, and she just brought this character to life. To bring this character to life on the action side, she spent a lot of time with our combat team and we kind of went through the rhythms and started her from small steps and we kind of got learned her basics and slowly built her two moves at a time, five moves at a time, six moves at a time, and kind of got her through this whole fight. So everything was done in rehearsal for us and in preparation. So when we got to the shoot, she was ready to go. I thought Molotovgirl Jodi created and we helped her turn her into this badass.
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I was blown away looking at your credits, and saw that you were a stunt performer for Bubble Boy. So were you in this bubble? What did you do in there?
I was. I was in this bubble. That was back when Jake Gyllenhaal was just a new actor coming up, and made Bubble Boy and ran into that bubble and fell down, flew in planes, floated in rivers and was thrown in the back of motorcycles. It was a cool experience. As a stuntman it was nice to have a little bit of padding around you. So you didn’t have to worry too much about things. You had a big old notepad you walked around in. So it was a fun experience to say that I had done this.
Motion capture stunts have become very popular in video games, but you actually made 007: Tomorrow Never Dies on PlayStation. Do you have any memories like this? Motion capture was not used that often in video games at the time.
Yes. Back then it was completely different [industry]. Now they have full studios dedicated to it, and it has gotten really, really big. Motion capture back then was a very daunting process. There were all these T-poses and recalibrations, and it was just a more elaborate process. That, they’ve definitely reduced it to a very streamlined process now. We did a bit of motion capture on Free Guy. So to see him from what he was then to what he is now is quite different. But it’s also a cool medium, because you can be there. If you have the sensors on you, this is what you capture. So you can kind of motivate things and put people on a wheelchair that makes it look like they’re standing on a motorcycle or something. So it’s cool to be in this motion capture arena, you can create a lot of things that you can’t do in the real world.
You mentioned how things have changed in the movies. Just in stunts in general, what has changed the most in this area since you started?
I’m definitely thinking of the collaboration between the visual effects department and the stunt department. Before, everything was that they wanted to do it for real. I’m not saying we’re not doing anything for real, but the most important thing is like high falls. So back then there were definitely specific stunt guys doing high drops and then as it started to progress a bit they started doing things with wires. So at first everyone was so concerned with the visual effects, like painting the wires, that everyone still wanted to do the high drops because they didn’t want to paint the wires.
But as a visual effect, the technology has improved, painting the threads is super easy. So they’re like, yeah, well, put on some wires. We are well. So in that regard, it made stunts safer because high falls, although they are calculated, there has also been a lot of injuries and things that have happened to them in the past. So putting someone on a wire just makes it safer and if the visual effects can pull it off without a hitch, why wouldn’t you do the same? Why don’t you make the drop super huge, and you can actually put actors in the falls, where it’s basically a controlled drop with an actor in it. They paint the thread and it is safe for the actor to be in the action. So I think the visual effects and stunt collaboration has definitely taken our game one step further when it comes to stunts and the stunt industry.