Q: At what point during or after the release of Deadpool did a sequel become a reality?
A: Well, we always hoped. Rhett [Reese], Paul [Wernick] and I have been friends for almost a decade now, so we were pitching ideas and stories and all kinds of stuff while we were shooting Deadpool. But at that point, it was just sort of naïve pie-in-the-sky hopefulness. But in the weeks leading up to the release of the movie, it became evident that it was going to open to a number that would at least satisfy the studio to greenlight a second film. And then, of course, the opening weekend was just… I could only really describe it as bananas [The film opened in the US to over $132 million]. At that point, we started to work in earnest on drafting a new film.
Q: That opening weekend must have been both a great feeling and also a kind of validation.
A: It was in part a validation. Certainly, it suggests that sometimes the long game pays off. It had been almost 11 years of my life, on and off, trying to get it made. And that opening… that sort of thing just never happens with a movie based on the budget we were working with, which was a fraction of the cost of most superhero films. Even Deadpool 2, it’s really still much lower than a normal, big-budget Marvel enterprise. So yes, it was a pretty special moment. It was also just nice to celebrate it with the whole team, Tim Miller included, who was the director of Deadpool. All of us just got this great moment to celebrate together and take a deep, deep long breath.
Q: Were there any lessons learned from making the first film that informed the second?
A: Really, just being authentic. I think one of the reasons that Deadpool resonated so well with an audience was because it really was a labor of love. It was something that we made, to some degree, in a vacuum without a ton of interference or input and we felt free to explore that space and that “meta” space and break the fourth wall and have the kind of relationship with the audience that you wouldn’t normally get in any kind of movie, let alone a superhero film.
Q: So more of that, then?
A: Yeah, we really wanted to go forward with the idea and the tenet that Deadpool is, in essence, owned by the fans. The fans are the ones that got it made in the first place and the fans are who we’re making the second one for. That’s our boss. Going into production on Deadpool 2, and certainly, in the writing process, it was those people we were making the movie for. And us of course. We have so much fun making it that I think it comes across in Deadpool 2, even more so than the first one, because this time we weren’t tasked with the often-difficult enterprises of telling an origin story, where much of what you’re doing is expositional. In Deadpool 2 we don’t need to explain where he’s come from and why he is the way he is as much. You can remind the audience of all those things just by the way he interacts with the people around him. So, in some ways, it was kind of easier in that regard.
Q: Was there anything specific you hoped to achieve with this second film?
A: Well for us, it’s always about heart. The comedy part of the job is the fun, light, easy breezy part. The part that’s really important is that Deadpool is not… well, he’s not a character that necessarily represents the woke male of 2018. He’s a dysfunctional, obnoxious fool who wants to be a better person. And I think coming from that place is more cinematic, and certainly a lot more fun because the mistakes Deadpool makes are somewhat hilarious and often times to the detriment of the people around him. One of the things that’s so much fun about playing this character is that he’s kind of an idiot.
Q: It’s fun to play the fool…
A: Well, playing a guy that is allowed to make mistakes and is allowed to sort of at times be offensive and say the wrong thing at the exact wrong moment gives you tremendous artistic liberty. And it’s nice that he doesn’t really beat himself up for it, because at the end of the day, his agenda is something that’s ultimately good. I mean, he inevitably wants to be better.
Q: How does this film differ from the first?
A: If Deadpool was a love story, Deadpool 2 is a family film in part. And it might sound strange to say, but we took a lot of the story tenets from Pixar as inspiration for creating the Deadpool 2 storyline and its inevitable conclusion. We really wanted to have that same kind of feel that there is magic in the world and there is hope in the world. So, you sort of package all of that within this construct of this anarchist, this guy who is his own worst enemy and just gets in his own ways as much as humanly possible. And that creates a recipe for not just hilarity but also, weirdly, for drama. There’s something very emotional about Deadpool 2 that I think Deadpool hit at its core pretty well, but probably not as well as Deadpool 2 does. We really wanted to make sure that there was something grounded at its core and important – not necessarily important in terms of societal issues, but important for the characters. We always kind of follow that recipe I think and that’s been really good to us.
Q: Pixar is not necessarily the first thing you think of with Deadpool…
A: No, we wouldn’t want you to think of Pixar! But we definitely had some of those beats. We love what they do with their characters and how there’s a plant/payoff for every character. And you try to make sure that every character has an arc no matter how small or big. That’s something that Pixar does very well and that’s something we were aiming for.
Q: Has Deadpool changed at all since the last time we saw him?
A: Deadpool has grown to a certain degree in as much as he wants to have a family. I mean, he wants to have a place in this world where he isn’t just a solo act. And that’s something he even talks about in the movie. But at the same time, there’s a certain kind of hubris that he has and a certain kind of absent-minded ability to take his eye off the ball so to speak that creates chaos in his world. And that’s what causes him to sort of spiral out of control in this particular film. And creates his need for family and his need for a place to be grounded more than ever. So… he has both grown and shrunk if I can say that. We can all get a little too comfortable sometimes with our place in this world and I think that’s what happens with Deadpool. And that leads to certain tragedies that compel him to make it right.
Q: You have a screenplay credit on Deadpool 2. Was this a case of you did a lot on the last one too, but this time your input’s been formally noted? Or did it feel like you did more on this one?
A: No, I’d say it was about the same. The credit situation wasn’t really engineered by me as much as it was Rhett and Paul, and they just felt like we’re a team and we all did this together. And in certain respects, if I legally could give them an acting credit I would. Because they’re as much Deadpool on the screen as I am. It’s that kind of core group or core team that makes up the DNA of Deadpool. Though certainly, Dave Leitch is a huge part of that as well. It’s funny. When movies succeed often the lead actor gets all the credit. And sometimes when movies fail the lead actor… also gets all the credit. And neither reading is really accurate. When Deadpool did what it did and, I think, surprised everybody in the industry, it was kind of easy, or even lazy, to suggest that I was the architect of that. But it was a team effort in every respect. I mean, almost every decision we make, we make together as a group. And right into marketing, even working with the marketing people over at Fox and that sort of thing. I mean, these are weekly meetings that happen and it’s a great deal of effort and energy that’s put forth to make things feel spur of the moment, last second, off the top of our heads etc. But it really is just a group effort. And it’s a group that I’m really proud to be a part of.
Q: How easy was it for you, wearing three hats, so to speak, on this film – lead actor, writer, and producer? And does the film become an all-consuming project? Is it possible to have a life outside of the film with so much to deal with?
A: Er… I’ll answer just in sort of a random order, but no, I don’t have a life outside this film. It swallows my entire life whole. Any extra time that I think most actors would devote to other ideas or projects they were developing, I don’t really have that luxury. I’m really just focused exclusively on working on Deadpool. Any spare time I have is just for my family, and I make sure I carve time out to be with them. But as far as being a producer, an actor, and a writer, they all sort of blend into one. I know how to play Deadpool and I know how to put him on the screen. So on this second film, I’m often more focused on making sure that Cable has a proper introduction and is introduced to the audience in a way that best represents Cable from the comic books. And we always go to the source material to make sure that that happens. And then Domino, too, is somebody that we love and we think is really special. Zazie Beetz is a very, very special actor and so a lot of effort and time is spent on establishing these characters, and Colossus, The Kid, all these other new characters that we’re introducing in the movie.
So it’s all pretty full on and then I get sort of stuck in the muck and the mire of other things that aren’t necessarily as sexy, like how do we budget this action set piece in the movie so it falls within our budget and still leaves us room to do these other things that we want? To be honest, a lot of times it’s sneaking behind the studio’s back and shooting things that they haven’t necessarily approved, but we’ve kind of hidden in the budget for our own sake! And a lot of those scenes are in the movie, so it’s both terrifying and fun at the same time. It’s a labor of love but yeah, it literally chews my life whole and then blows bubbles with it for the entire process of pre-production right through post-production and mixing and all that good stuff.
Q: Let’s talk about a couple of those new characters you mentioned, starting with Josh Brolin. What does he bring to the role and what did Cable bring to the film?
A: Well, Josh is basically 600 pounds of muscle in a 195-pound body. He comes with a gravitas, a presence, that is timeless. Which is ironic, considering his character is a time traveler… Cable brings a presence to the film that is really important because when you have Deadpool, who at his core and at his heart is a 16-year-old boy, you need an adult around. And that’s what Cable represents, even though Cable is morally flexible and certainly walks a tightrope between villain and hero throughout the movie. But then, everybody that goes on to be a part of X-Force is to some degree morally flexible and anarchic in a way.
Q: That’s the Deadpool way…
A: Yes, I think that’s why Deadpool exists in the space it exists in – because all the other superheroes, unfortunately, or fortunately, are virtuous. And they have a kind of high ideal and a moral compass that is unwavering and strong and so they’re always destined to do the right thing. With these guys – Deadpool, Cable, Domino – we don’t know that they’re necessarily going to do the right moral thing. They’re going to do the thing that best suits their agenda.
Q: And Cable is particularly, fiercely, focused on his agenda.
A: Yes, he’s absolutely unblinking in his agenda. He has one purpose that he’s come back in time to achieve and that’s all he cares about. He doesn’t care who or what gets in his way. He’s going to achieve that goal even if it kills him or anyone else around him. So, it creates a kind of tension and a danger that a guy like Josh Brolin really brings in spades. And Josh is a somewhat dangerous kind of guy to be around in real life. Not like he’s up to no good, just that he’s a guy that has a real weight and a real presence. But he can also crack a joke with the best of them. A lot of people don’t realize that he has a background in improv, and he can go with the flow in a way. His character gets some huge laughs in the movie, but not at the expense of his character. He gets huge laughs because he’s so dry and so matter of fact. And really does represent the adult in the relationship between him and Deadpool. And it’s a lot of fun to see him spread his wings and fly.
Q: Let’s move on to Julian Dennison, who plays ‘The Kid’. What was your thinking there?
A: Well, I love Julian Dennison and he’s the only guy we met for this role. I’m friends with Taika Waititi and Taika created a film with him called Hunt for the Wilderpeople that was one of the best movies I think I’d ever seen. Julian is just at once both kind of dangerous and heartbreaking at the same time, and I don’t know why he has that ability or that superpower, but that’s just sort of what he does, whether he’s speaking or not speaking on camera. And we needed a character that was both dangerous and heartbreaking, one that creates a conflict for the audience. A character that is in over his head and is going down a path that is incredibly destructive, but at the same time we want the audience to feel empathy for him and we want someone, anyone, to save him. So he’s sort of the primary conflict between Cable and Deadpool. That’s where they’re at odds when it comes to this kid. So Julian had to hit a very precise point, a very small target, in this movie and he just did it over and over again. And we were really, really happy with everything that he did.
Q: What was your aim with bringing the character of Domino into the film?
A: We loved that Domino had probably the most difficult superpower to create cinematically. I mean, her superpower is controlling the laws of probability and luck. So basically, she’s lucky. And that’s a strange, difficult thing to put on screen in a palpable way. So we loved playing with that and the idea that Deadpool feels luck is not a superpower and it’s not really anything that you would need in a dangerous situation, excluding a vicious game of Pai gow. He kind of taunts her and she answers those calls with abject superpower. I mean, she’s just so much fun to watch, because a character that has faith or confidence that everything’s going to work out for her one way or another is actually incredibly cinematic to watch. She goes into some of the most dangerous situations like she’s Matthew McConaughey on his best day. Everything is just cool. Everything’s going to work out. Everything’s alright, you know? So her pulse never really quickens. And because of that, the contrast in those really scary, dire situations that happen in the film, she’s very, very watchable because she sort of feels like she’s in charge, even though she’s really only looking out for herself and her own interests. She shifts right into that perfect pocket of X-Force.
Q: And what was your thought process behind casting Zazie for the role?
A: Zazie has just about every tool possible in the shed, so she can go any which way you need her to go in any given situation. I think we read with about 20 people for that role and every one of them was amazing. But when Zazie came in, we just knew immediately: “That’s Domino. It’s over, it’s done, we got her.” It was one of those great moments in casting when you feel like you just got one of the essential pieces of the puzzle in your film. And I think we’re going to see her really expand in X-Force. And the same with Cable. This movie’s meant to be just an introduction to those characters and yet they ended up playing so much more pivotal a role than we even anticipated early on in the script process.
Q: Was the plan always to introduce X-Force in the second Deadpool film?
A: The main plan was to introduce Cable and Domino. And then as it evolved we thought, “Why not create a scenario in which a whole bunch of X-Force characters sort of show up?” And we use them in a very particular way. Many of them are characters that the audience already knows or is familiar with, which creates a lot of anticipation for the audience. We had a lot of fun with that. We definitely had a ton of fun with Peter, which was quite last minute. We kind of threw in this character that looks like he just walked out of a middle management position at Kinko’s Copies and thrust him into this absolutely dangerous, utterly insane mercenary business. So we love that. We loved kind of getting to play with all these sorts of tropes and that sort of thing with the X-Force characters. And they’re so badass and they’re so much fun in the movie. And I can’t wait for audiences to drink them in.
Q: Speaking of Peter, what made you think of Rob Delaney?
A: Rob Delaney has just always made me laugh. There’s actually something very subversive about him as a person too, so he kind of plays on this “I’m like any Dad in America” kind of thing. But there’s actually something very dark and twisted about him which is I think what makes him such a great standup comedian and this is one of the reasons that Rhett, Paul and I have always been such huge fans of his work on his show, Catastrophe. He’s really got something unique and I can’t wait to see Peter in future installments.
Q: With Deadpool 2 there’s a sense of universe building, kind of introducing the X-Force and the ‘Team Deadpool’ family. Are there any benefits or challenges, or opportunities, to working, however loosely, within this bigger universe of Fox/Marvel/X-Men/maybe Disney etc.?
A: Well, Deadpool is kind of an island unto himself in that world. He’s so meta and has an ability to have a direct line to the audience via fourth wall breaks or just commentary, it doesn’t necessarily push him into a sustainable position to be in the sandbox with all the other X-Men. But at the same time, it’s really a fun idea. So I do like that we always make sure that we’re working within the X Universe, but not necessarily playing by the X Universe rules. It’s an ability that’s unique to Deadpool. But with respect to all these other characters, I think down the line there’s room for some fun to be had with those guys. I mean, to do a Deadpool 3 movie would be difficult because in order to make the character work you have to take everything away from him. That’s what allows him to misbehave and puts him in a position where it’s palatable that he’s misbehaving and firing off at the mouth as much as he is. In the future, I’d love to see some team-ups or something. A Deadpool-Gambit film would be a lot of fun to see and playing in the X Universe would be awesome. And then of course with the Disney merger, and whether it happens or not, I don’t know what that portends. I don’t know if that means that Deadpool will eventually be mingling with the likes of Iron Man or someone like that…
Q: That’s kind of mind-boggling.
A: Yes, I mean, these are what we would call serious uptown problems. That would be a lot of fun for us and I think that would be a lot of fun for the audience. But who knows where it goes from here? I just know that currently for us from here it’s X-Force. And X-Force puts Deadpool firmly into the ensemble category. And I think that that is exciting. It allows that character to spread his wings and fly in all the right ways. So I would assume that we’re going be working within the X-Force confines as opposed to just the X Universe or the Marvel world or anything like that. But who knows? One can dream…
Q: So you’re thinking the next time we see Deadpool is unlikely to be in a Deadpool 3 film per se, but instead an ensemble movie?
A: Yeah, I would think that it’s gonna be X-Force or it may be unique adventures that are pair-ups – I’d like to see those because they’d be fun to write. And probably fun to create new tensions and different characters that have completely diametrically opposed ideas on how to function as a superhero and that sort of thing. Deadpool always works well in a kind of ‘down and dirty’ context. I think he thrives in the sort of seedy underbelly of the world, as opposed to the planet-saving, shiny aspect that is often a part of those other universes like the Marvel Universe and that sort of thing. One of my favorite lines in Deadpool 2 is when Cable makes a remark about how in the future the Earth has been… ‘fucked into a coma’ is I believe what he says, that basically the planet is over, the apocalypse has happened. And Deadpool just kind of laughs and says, “Ah, planets…” Like world saving and that kind of stuff just isn’t part of his thinking. He’s more concerned about the individual. I mean, Deadpool would put his life on the line for a kid, but I don’t know that Deadpool’s the guy that would step up and say, “We need to save Earth!”. Unless there was an entirely selfish motivation. So, there’s something fun about Deadpool because he plays sort of a countercultural aspect to that superhero world. And I’ve always loved that about him.