Ryan Reynolds tells Blake Lively we're headed to the war room.

More accurately, he tells her we're going to the barn, which sits on an old upstate New York farm that functions as Reynolds's family center and creative headquarters. It was on this estate, which he shares with the very pregnant Lively and their daughter, that he co-wrote the screenplay for Deadpool and where he's currently working on its sequel with co-writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. This farm—or Reynolds himself, ass planted on the farm, where he seems to be happiest—is the star around which all bodies of the Reynolds system orbit. So although Lively is due literally any minute, Reynolds has chosen to hold this interview here.

That he's able to have a casual chat as the timer is about to ding on his wife's second pregnancy speaks to his experience living like a Mafia don conspiring in the back of a gelato shop. Reynolds's front was a couple of decades of mid-size film hits and clever talk-show appearances. Of course, the hidden racket was Deadpool, which went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.

But, like, why? Why Deadpool? Because Deadpool is one of the most unique protagonists to appear in a blockbuster. He's a movie character who's aware of how absurd it is that he's a movie character. A mutant who literally says, "Whose balls did I have to fondle to get my very own movie? I can't tell you, but it does rhyme with Polverine." The comic-book hero who basically asked the rest of the genre: "Why so serious?"

Okay. But how did Reynolds prophesize that audiences would respond to the character he spent 11 grueling years forcing onto movie screens? Because he is one of the most unique figures in Hollywood. He's a movie star who's aware how absurd it is that he's a movie star. A celebrity who poses on the Met Ball red carpet or at Taylor Swift's Fourth of July party and looks into the camera with a smirk that suggests he knows how many of us would fondle balls to be in his position. Reynolds recognized himself in a beloved character and spent a decade persuading doubters to let him blow up the superhero-industrial complex with the role of his lifetime.

Among stacks of cookbooks and a bust of the character who changed his career, Reynolds sits on a sofa, poised to reflect on the magnitude of his accomplishments. But first, he wants to give me shit about a conversation we had in the GQ fashion closet two days ago.…

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