Warning: SPOILERS lie ahead for Free Guy.
Free Guy star Lil Rel Howery opens up about having to take a walk after filming a heartbreaking scene in the Ryan Reynolds-led sci-fi comedy. Howery and Reynolds star in the film as Buddy and Guy, two non-player characters living in an open-world video game as a bank security guard and teller. When Reynolds’ Guy, already yearning for something more with his life, learns of his existence from programmer Millie and that the game is in danger of being shut down by the publisher, he sets out on an adventure to save the world he knows and the friends he loves.
Hitting theaters this past week, Free Guy has already proven to be a hit for Reynolds and Disney/20th Century Studios, nearly doubling its initial opening weekend box office projections and scoring strong reviews from critics. Though critics have praised the film’s generally heartwarming tone, it wasn’t without some heartbreak as Howery’s Buddy finds himself deleted by Taika Waititi’s maniacal publisher Antwan and he and Guy must say a tearjerking goodbye. As emotional a moment it was to see on screen, it appears audiences weren’t the only ones who felt the gut punch from this loss.
Howery caught up with CinemaBlend in time for the release of Free Guy to discuss the film. In reflecting on his character’s final scene in the film, the actor revealed it ultimately took two takes to get it right but that he needed a moment afterwards to process as it was just as emotional for him as it is for many audiences. See what Howery had to say below:
“But dang, I remember having to take a walk after we shot that. What made that work for real was I think we did a great job of creating this friendship between Guy and Buddy and selling it. And even for ourselves playing those characters, there was something interesting about [how] me and Ryan had to stay naive the whole time, like little children. They didn’t know any of this stuff they were learning later on. I think that’s what made it work, when you really felt connected to both of them, because it felt innocent. So if they did deliver a heart moment, you was like ‘Ooh. Ok.’ And it’s so funny because you film things, and when you rewatch it, I remember Shawn showed me the movie, I was sitting there like, ‘Oh, god. I know I said it, but ooh, I just felt it’.”
While much marketing has highlighted the chemistry and relationship between Reynolds’ Guy and Jodie Comer’s Millie, it’s also been clear that Howery’s Buddy would play just as pivotal a role in the titular character’s life. In addition to working with Guy at the bank, Buddy and Guy have a close bond that extends to the former being concerned when his best friend nearly gets himself killed trying to stop a robbery and subsequently kills someone. Though audiences are aware the robber is just a player who will likely spawn back in elsewhere on the map instantaneously, it all appears very real to the duo and they both sell it well.
As fun and uplifting as Free Guy has been for many critics and audiences, it should come as an interesting note to hear Howery’s emotional connection to his character and co-star Reynolds. While the Deadpool star seems to be able to connect with any one he’s paired with on screen, it’s nonetheless heartwarming to hear the Get Out star talk about the real friendship built between them and how it carried over on screen. For those who haven’t yet seen the duo in action or are looking to revisit their cheery antics, Free Guy is now in theaters.