Ryan Reynolds admits singing and dancing in new holiday musical ‘Spirited’ was ‘obscenely challenging and scary’

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in 'Spirited' (Apple+)

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in ‘Spirited’ (Image: Apple+)

Make no mistake, the new holiday comedy Spiritual is a full-length musical. That means its stars Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell and Octavia Spencer — not actors typically associated with (or at all experienced with) the genre — are in full song-and-dance mode.

And it was scary at times for Reynolds, 46 Deadpool actor and father of three daughters.

“It was super exciting to tackle something that was obscenely challenging and scary,” Reynolds tells Yahoo Entertainment. “And I don’t think I would have done this 10 or 15 years ago, or even five years ago, necessarily. I think I’ve come to a place in my life where I’m a lot gentler on myself for not being great at something right away. It’s very hard to get even satisfactory at anything unless you’re willing to be terrible first.

“There’s something I always tell my kids: Never waste your mistakes because your mistakes are what teach you how to be better at something.” So yeah, I was kind of at a point in my life where I was ready to go into a situation where I just felt completely out of my depth in almost every way. I mean, you give me a battle sequence and I’ll learn it backwards in near record time. But a dance number is just such a completely different animal and beast. And I was excited to try something that was a little scary and out of my league.”

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The latest film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novel Christmas carol Reynolds stars as Clint Briggs, an ethical PR shark whose status as “irredeemable” does nothing but raise Ferrell’s Christmas present ghost who loves a challenge. However, Briggs manages to turn the tables on Present and force the ghost to examine his own existence in the afterlife in the Sean Anders-directed film, which features original music from La La Land and The greatest showman hitmakers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

Speaking of The greatest showmanReynolds refuses Spiritual is his attempt to try and keep up with the musician himself, longtime friend/fake nemesis Hugh Jackman, who Reynolds recently joined. Deadpool 3 with great joy.

“Not even slightly,” laughs Reynolds. “Singing and dancing is in the human DNA. It’s not in mine.”

However, Reynolds says he took comfort in the collaboration with Ferrell, as both dove into a new genre together. (Although the pair both made brief appearances in the 1999 comedy Dick, Spirited marks the first time they’ve shared the screen together.)

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“He and I got to do it together in a way that neither of us had ever stepped into a full musical before,” says Reynolds. “We both had parts in movies where we would maybe sing for a second or do something like that, but not a musical. So for both of us, we were a little out of our depth. So I had a partner in that process. I had someone by my side that I could entrust [with] together.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 7: Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell attend Apple Original Film's

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell attend the New York premiere of “Spirited” at Lincoln Center on November 7, 2022. (Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images,)

Perhaps it helped that Ferrell already had a true modern Christmas classic under his belt with 2003 An elf. Maybe it didn’t.

“These are big shoes to jump into,” says Reynolds. “This is a movie my kids and my whole family watch every Christmas.

An elf is a stone cold reminder that in the end it seems there are only two kinds of Christmas movies. The ones that become classics, to be watched or streamed every holiday season by the masses. Or those who are simply forgotten.

“You don’t know,” says Reynolds. “I mean, nobody knows. The funny thing is, I don’t think you can really judge a great movie or something that people come back to until years later. There are movies that we all know and love and obsess over that at the time didn’t necessarily work. I mean, you can go as far back as The Wizard of Oz to think about it. You can go back as far as It’s a wonderful life. Movies that didn’t make it to the cinemas or didn’t pierce the zeitgeist in a way that people might have wanted, but then stood the test of time time and time again.

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“One thing I know about the entertainment business at 46 after doing it for 30 years is that I don’t know anything. You just don’t know anything. And that’s one thing I’m sure of.”

Reynolds is also confident that despite the “uncomfortably challenging and terrifying” experience of channeling his inner Fred Astaire (or Hugh Jackman) in a musical for the first time, he ended up really, really enjoying it.

“I don’t pretend to be the best in the world at it, but God I loved to sing and dance,” says Reynolds. “I loved every second of it. It really was so much fun, especially when it went well. It was a feeling like no other.”

Spiritual now playing in select theaters and will stream worldwide on Apple+ starting November 18.


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