Sandra Bullock says her longtime friend and costar has a complexity beyond the friendly face that draws an audience in: "It makes you want to watch more of him to figure it out. As his friend, any dark secrets that I may or may not know are forever safe with me. Unless he doesn't do something I want him to do, like babysitting. When that day comes, I'll be sure to hold a press conference." The rest of his success she credits to his comic timing, height, and Canadian-ness. "He constantly talks of the healing powers of maple syrup," Bullock says. "I don't know if that's a Canadian trait, but it's always uncomfortable when it comes up."
"I love Canada," Reynolds says when I tell him Bullock's view of his nationality. "It makes a nice hat for America. When America runs out of water, it's the first place I'll go. I gotta go home. I haven't been there in a long, long time."
I suggest that announcing he has to go home and then marching off into the sunset would be an apt and dramatic turn for the story.
"Yes, like a zombie!" he says. "That would be a fucking fascinating ending. Can we say it happened? I just get up and cut a Ryan-size hole in the wall—in every wall until I get to Canada. Pete, Wayne, to the airport! Fetch my passport."
Instead, we settle in for another round. Reynolds is easygoing and jokey, and I feel a bit sheepish about asking him to talk about his life in grand, what-it-all-means terms. So what should the story of the well-adjusted generalist turned movie star be about?
"My divorce!" he says, laughing a little uncomfortably. Another of the benefits of not becoming insanely famous in his teens and twenties and before the age of TMZ and camera phones and instant everything is that Reynolds was allowed to do his youthful fucking up like the rest of us: without the world paying attention. As he's matured, he has built and maintained an utterly sane and relatively leakproof wall around the details of his romances and private life. His default approach is the politely disengaged "no comment."
"I'll say this: The media wasn't invited to my marriage, and they're definitely not invited into the divorce."
He will talk, in general terms, about the strangeness and pain of his separation. And as he does, many things about the private man become clear. He does not take any of this lightly. He has been using this time to heal, to make sense of things and figure out what comes next. "Anyone who gets divorced goes through a lot of pain," he says, "but you come out of it. I'm not out of it yet. At all. But I sense that as I do come through it, there's optimism. How can there not be? I don't think I want to get married again, but you always reevaluate these things. Any kind of crisis can be good. It wakes you up. I gotta say, I'm a different person than I was six months ago."
The downside to not talking to the press about your high-profile divorce is that in a vacuum without actual fact, they'll fill the void with rumors and falsehoods. "What was happening privately was the exact opposite of what was being reported," he says. "There was no story and no scandal, so the narrative was just created for me. That was the most disturbing part. I wasn't angry. I absolutely predicted every beat of it. There's an entire economy around this sort of thing—therefore it's gotta happen one way or another. There was a time, though, when looking at the Internet was a miracle cure for feeling good about myself."