Ryan Reynolds opens up about his lifelong struggle with anxiety
Ryan Reynolds is getting serious for a moment.
The 41-year-old actor, who's been celebrated for his sarcastic wit that helped turn Deadpool into a blockbuster, talks about dealing with his anxiety in a new interview with The New York Times, and how debilitating it can get. Reynolds admits he gets nauseous before every talk-show appearance despite his confident demeanor, and according to the outlet, becomes convinced he might died.
"I have anxiety, I’ve always had anxiety,” Reynolds says. “Both in the lighthearted ‘I’m anxious about this’ kind of thing, and I’ve been to the depths of the darker end of the spectrum, which is not fun.”
The father of two says his humor is a self-defense mechanism that he's used since he was a kid, growing up with his father, Jim. Reynolds has spoken about his complicated relationship with his late father before, who died in 2015 after a battle with Parkinson's disease.
“I became this young skin-covered micromanager,” he says about maintaining the peace between his dad and himself and his three older brothers growing up in Canada. “When you stress out kids, there’s a weird paradox that happens because they’re suddenly taking on things that aren’t theirs to take on.”
Reynolds also admits to a partying phase when he was in his early 20s. The Times says he was paralyzed by anxiety and was self-medicating, though after a few of his friends died of overdoses, he scaled back.
“I was partying and just trying to make myself vanish in some way,” Reynolds notes.
These days, the actor is more grounded living outside of New York City with his wife, Blake Lively, and their two daughters -- 3-year-old James and 1-year-old Ines. Reynolds says he's dealing with the anxiety of his major press tour for Deadpool 2 by doing many of the interviews in character and uses the meditation app Headspace. He also says that when the actual interviews take place, his anxiety vanishes.
“When the curtain opens, I turn on this knucklehead, and he kind of takes over and goes away again once I walk off set,” he explains. “That’s that great self-defense mechanism. I figure if you’re going to jump off a cliff, you might as well fly.”
As for his relationship with Lively -- particularly their hilarious back-and-forth banter on social media -- he notes, “She gets me a lot."
This isn't the first time Reynolds has credited Lively for helping him deal with anxiety. In an interview with Variety last January, Reynolds said his wife helped him manage the high expectations people had of Deadpool after Comic-Con.
"Blake helped me through that,” he said at the time. “I’m lucky to have her around just to keep me sane.”
ET spoke to 30-year-old Lively last month at CinemaCon, where she also talked about her and Reynolds' relationship being filled with plenty of humor.
"We have fun," she said with a smile. "We're best friends, you know?"