Ryan Reynolds and Marjane Satrap

Ryan Reynolds and Marjane Satrapi at the Crosby hotel in New York for ‘The Voices.’

*Hearing voices in your head is known to be associated with mental illness. However, Ryan Reynolds was quick to let The Film Strip know his film, “The Voices,” is by no means a statement about dementia. “This movie is not meant to be a public service announcement for mental health,” he cautioned. “This is not a documentary. It is not meant to be looked at for advice or counsel, in any way.” [Laughs]

The genre bending film has gotten rave reviews and Reynolds was asked to explain its appeal. “I think that people are kind of shocked that people empathize with a serial killer–albeit for the record—one of the nicest serial killers you’ve ever met. And kindest serial killer you ever met. Maybe that’s a strange feeling for people, and it’s exciting.”

Although one of Reynolds finest roles and most serious was that of Paul Conroy, who was buried in a box throughout the whole film “Buried,” and he has amassed a slew of interesting characters in his repertoire from films such as “The Green Lantern,” “Safe House,” “The Proposal,” and “Blade Trinity,” he relished the opportunity to play a character unlike anyone he had ever done.  “I think the fact that Jerry (Reynolds) is a serial killer was irrelevant to me,” Reynolds recalled. “I think when we see something in the news that involves a murder, we automatically fill in a narrative and oftentimes it’s sadistic. I think that might not always be the case.

“I get frustrated with movies that portray villains who are acting upon an evil impulse, as that’s not always true. They’re acting upon an opposing conviction. That’s fascinating to me. I saw empathy in him. I didn’t see a guy who wakes up in the morning and thinks, ‘I need to kill someone.’ I saw a guy who was hurt very badly when he was 11-years-old, and he never emotionally grew past that age. He can’t move past it, which is interesting to me. Combine that with the fact that Marjane [director Marjane Satrapi] was aiming to make the movie loopy and funny at the same time, and you have a recipe to create something special.”

In “The Voices,” Jerry works at a factory while under the care of his psychiatrist Dr. Warren (Jacki Weaver), but he refuses to take his meds. Jerry falls hard for British bimbo Fiona (Gemma Arterton). Their relationship takes a murderous turn after Fiona stands him up. Driven by his benevolent dog Bosco and foul-mouthed sinister cat Mr. Whisker, Jerry finds himself in a quandary.

Knowing what they say about working with animals and children, how was it working with Bosco and Mr. Whiskers?

MARJANE SATRAPI: Bosco was his best friend.

RYAN REYNOLDS: I love Bosco; he’s a beautiful English Mastiff. But the cat, Mr. Whiskers, just hated me. I would take a child with rabies over a cat any day. The cat thought I worked at the pound or something. I picked the cat up in one of the scenes, and I couldn’t figure out why my entire body was stinging all of a sudden. Then I realized his legs were attached to different parts of my body. I walked into the bathroom and saw I was bleeding in different places all over my body. I was like, ‘it doesn’t even have that many claws!’

MS: The problem was the cat was very sensitive. If there were more than five people around, he would freak out. If you told the cat to sit, he wouldn’t sit. And I said, ‘Give him a sleeping pill.’  And they were like, ‘We cannot do that to animals.’ I was like, ‘I take them to cool down.’

RR: What did you want to give the cat?

MS: A sleeping pill because I take it at night.

RR: You won’t even make it out of this hotel if someone puts that out.

MS: So we had to use three cameras to film the cat separately. Thankfully my editor, who was also the director of my second unit, was very patient, as I’m not patient. He would calm the cat for about four hours, just to have 10 seconds of coverage of him lying down. That’s the genius of the editor, to make it seem as though all the characters are interacting. But it’s hell to work with a cat. I have a cat, and I love them, but I know what it’s like to work with them. But I didn’t want to use a CGI animal, because you can tell right away the CGI is not real, and it’s so ugly!

Ryan Reynolds gets advice from Bosco and Mr. Whiskers.

Ryan Reynolds gets advice from Bosco and Mr. Whiskers.

Ryan, you did triple duty, also doing the voices of Bosco and Mr. Whiskers. How did that come about?

RR: I knew they were looking for voice actors to play the dog and cat. It then occurred to me that the dog and cat are aspects of his fractured psyche. So I recorded a scene between Jerry, Mr. Whiskers and Bosco on my phone, and sent it to Marjane.

MS: It became obvious that Ryan had to also do the pets’ voices, since Jerry hears their voices. It was incredible to see Ryan do the different voices. I was standing in front of him as he was recording the voiceover for the Bunny Monkey, and I was like, from which part of his body does that sound come from? [Laughs]

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at thefilmstrip@gmail.com