To fans of the hit TV series Gossip Girl, Blake Lively is Upper East Side party girl Serena van der Woodsen. But to comic book movie fans, she is swiftly becoming known as Carol Ferris, the employer, friend, and one-time lover of test pilot and superhero Hal Jordan (played by Ryan Reynolds) in the highly anticipated Green Lantern movie adaptation.
Lively was a hit during her recent appearance alongside Reynolds at the Warner Bros. presentation for Green Lantern at last weekend’s WonderCon comic book and popular arts convention, leaving the stage of the Esplanade Ballroom to thunderous applause from the audience. She sat down to chat about the movie with [me] and other reporters during a set of roundtable interviews that followed the presentation, offering up juicy details about her training, her costume, and her character, as well as explaining the universal appeal of Green Lantern.
Last year, a rumor began circulating that Lively had trained for the movie with Cirque du Soleil , which sparked the rumor that she would also be portraying Carol Ferris’ comic book alter-ego, Star Sapphire. While Star Sapphire’s star logo can be spotted on Ferris’ flight helmet in the trailer, there’s been no hint that Lively will appear in costume as the villainess in the movie. As for Cirque du Soleil, Lively revealed that the Canadian entertainment company supplied the harnesses that they used for their high-flying stunts, nothing more, and that the real workout came from a device invented for The Matrix.
I had very few stunts to do in this film, but they required a lot of core strength so I trained for months for probably three seconds that you’ll see on the film. Because, you now, I was on the thing called ‘The Matrix Rig,’ which is a rig they invented for ‘The Matrix’ and it’s a 40-foot-long arm that’s about 30 feet in the air and it’s a gyroscopic waste belt that you have. And the first time they put you out there, they say, ‘Okay, go crazy,’ and I filmed it for my nieces and nephews. And, you can do these flips and turns and cartwheels in the air, and you can turn every which way, and you then you regret it with every ounce of nausea that you have.
Lively revealed that her favorite part about the production was “going in the flight simulator” to get the hang of portraying a fighter jet test pilot, but that she also enjoyed just “working with the stunt people,” even admitting that she would climb on The Matrix Rig on her days off. What she didn’t enjoy was the fighter pilot compression suit that you see her wearing in the trailer.
You know, our costume designer said, ‘I could give you some babe version of the outfit,’ where it’s tight around your waste and you’re wearing a wife beater – and they put Ryan in that version of it, thank goodness – but, you know, she said [referring to the scene in the trailer where Carol is chastising Hal for being late for a test flight], ‘This has to be real, he’s late, she’s waiting for him, she would be ready to go into the air.’ So here I am in this baggy suit and then they put a compression suit on top of it, a suit filled with air…. And you start to walk like a G.I. Joe ’cause you can’t move in it. And, after the first take, Martin [Campbell, director] came to me and he said, ‘You know, I understand that she’s militant, but can you just walk a little … can you tone it down?’ And I was like, ‘That’s not a character choice, I cannot move without walking like a character from ‘Toy Story.”
Lively said that she only takes projects that she is “passionate about” and that contain characters she can “connect with.” When asked what interested her about playing Carol Ferris, Lively said that she appreciates “the many hats” that the character wears and the fact that she is not your typical comic book movie “damsel in distress.”
Carol is a very strong, empowered woman. She’s a business owner. She inherits her father’s aviation company. She’s militant. She’s a fighter pilot. But, she’s also very caring and kind and loving. She has this history with Hal Jordan (Reynolds) and, you know, they’ve grown up together since they were kids. You know, she witnessed his father’s death with him. So there’s such a history and a deep love and balancing that with somebody who is your living rival. … She wears many hats and balancing all of that was a great character to play. And, also, traditionally in comic book films, the woman is the damsel in distress, but she is often the one who saves him because he is not a Superman, he is a man and he has doubts about whether or not he wants to dedicate his life to humankind and save the earth and all of the galaxies around. So the fact that she’s there to inspire him is cool. Because, in real life, we do rely on other people in moments of weakness and doubt to push us through, you know, and I thought that was really appealing about this story.
Though women are not the typical target audience of comic book movies, Lively said that women will appreciate Green Lantern because the movie contains incredible fantasy elements that are of “universal” appeal.
It takes place on Earth and we’re fighter pilots, which is so fun to see, but then also it’s so beautiful this Oa [home planet of the Green Lantern Corps] and space. It’s so creative and artistic and just mind-blowing. You go to a theater for that experience, you know. To get your popcorn and your Milk Duds – and sometimes even seeing a bad movie is fun in the theater – but when you go and you see a movie that just blows your mind and you see things unlike you could have ever imagine you’ve ever seen before – I mean, look at the reaction to ‘Avatar’ – escaping into different worlds and different planets is something that I think is universal. And the fact that this takes place not only on planet Earth, but also in space, is something that people, male or female, will appreciate.
In the roundtable interview with Reynolds conducted just prior to the same session with Lively, the Canadian actor said that shooting against a blue screen forces actors to “embrace that thing from when you were a child, when you were a kid, that yearning to pretend.” For her part, Lively said that acting against a blue screen is “a lot harder” than acting on a regular set, where the props and environment can help you get into character, but that you still have to find the “heart” in the scene to make it “authentic.”
You know, when I was shooting ‘The Town,’ I was in an apartment in Boston. I saw exactly – I had all of the props there … my whole world was around me and I could draw from it much easier than you can when you’re acting against a blue curtain. But, you still want to bring that humanity and that heart to it so, you know, any role you do you want to have authentic emotion.
Green Lantern was written by Michael Green, Greg Berlanti, and Marc Guggenheim. Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins, Temuera Morrison, and Angela Bassett also star.
Originally published April 4, 2011.