How Ryan Reynolds went beyond the movies to build a business empire

Don’t put that. This dead Pool mask won’t offer you any protection, ”Ryan Reynolds said as he watched me look at the burgundy and black superhero face cover displayed on a credenza behind him. “In fact, this mask will probably give you an STD.” His broad smile fades, replaced by a serious face. “No, really,” he said in a low voice. “You are going to catch something. I did.”

Unmasked (albeit vaxxed and tested), Reynolds and I are in the barn on the property Reynolds shares with his wife, Blake Lively, and their three daughters in a wooded area in upstate New York so rural he calls it. “Paul Bunyan’s Asshole.” We’re upstairs in a former hayloft littered with memories of the 45-year-old Canadian actor’s success since wearing the dead Pool mask on screen: draped over a motorbike, a scarf bears the crest of Wrexham AFC, the fifth-tier Welsh football club that Reynolds bought last February with Rob McElhenney and about which the pair are making an FX docusery. A bar cart is filled with bottles of Aviation Gin, the brand he bought and which was acquired by Diageo in a deal that could reach $ 610 million in 2020 (with the deal that Reynolds would retain a “continuing interest”). And there’s a huge velvet sofa in a shade Reynolds calls “Mint Mobile green,” in reference to the cell phone company he bought a controlling stake in in 2019 because he was a fan of the service. It was on this sofa, explains Reynolds, that he presented his vision of free guy, an uplifting wellness comedy in the form of a video game action film that became a surprise blockbuster this summer.

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