To a point, anyway. "There's shit-your-pants fear around every corner because I'm usually stepping out of a comfort zone that I haven't done before in a film," Reynolds says of his current projects. "But that's the wonder of it, the beauty of it. I can't say I've ever finished a film and been particularly thrilled with myself or patted myself on the back. And maybe that's what keeps me going, and that's a good thing. It speaks volumes about how I perceive myself. Like a lot of people, I've got a self-loathing streak that's alive and well. It acts as a de facto engine when I'm working, but it also has its extraordinary pitfalls, too."
A sense of the absurd is often one of the by-products of self-loathing. "I told Blake I was going to do this entire interview just singing 'There's No Business Like Show Business' and see if you would print that verbatim," he says. "Just hours of that." Reynolds cites a 1974 novel we discussed earlier, William Kotzwinkle's The Fan Man, which he and Bridges took turns reading aloud on the set of R.I.P.D. One of that novel's chapters contains a single word, dorky, repeated more than a thousand times. I ask him for the one word to encapsulate our interview, with its surprise exploration of—how'd the gallery put it?—"heterogeneous interfaces."
"I'd summarize it in a phrase," he replies, harking back to a title he bestowed on one of the sculptures in the art gallery. "'Ernest Borgnine's asshole.' But listen to us! What did Ernest Borgnine do to deserve this? An incredibly accomplished actor, a wonderful human being, and we've sullied his good name by comparing his asshole to a catcher's mitt. What a body of work that man had. He worked until he was, like, 95 years old."
Do you want to work until you're 95? I ask.
"Do I really want to survive?" He takes a contemplative pause, the jokey glints fading. "Yeah, I think so. If it could be like the experience I'm having now and again, yes. I don't know what the outcome is, but I would love if it was meaningful in some way."
And then, with those jokey glints charging back onto his face, he suggests we return to the art gallery. "Let's go back," he urges. "Was that stuff for sale? Was there a price list?"