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Interview: Deadpool 2’s Julian Dennison on why he’s afraid of the dark, and some guy called Ryan

The young Julian Dennison became an internationally renown actor following his unforgettable performance as Ricky Baker in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Now a major role in Deadpool 2 looks set to catapult him to global stardom. In the lead up to the film’s release, we sat down with Dennison to discuss several awfully important matters – such as the movie that made him afraid of the dark, and what it’s like to work with some guy called Ryan.

FLICKS: You’re here to convince people they should come see a movie, where you pull the fingers, and swear and stuff. That must be really fun to do.

JULIAN DENNISON: Of course it is! I’m not that sort of kid, though. I don’t really swear, do that sort of stuff in real life but it was really fun doing it. It was different. It was challenging. Ricky Baker [Hunt for the Wilderpeople] did that a bit as well but not as intense as this film. But, no, it was really cool being able to play someone a bit more intense and there was a lot more emotion in it. Mum was also OK  with the film.

Well, that’s good.

Dad hasn’t seen it yet.

Well, that’s kind of good.

Yeah, it’s kind of good actually. It’s kind of reassuring that she didn’t give me a clip around the ear after we got out of the cinema. She’s like, “If you start talking this way at home, there’s definitely going to be consequences.” She calls it contact counseling. Yeah. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal now. I’m joking. I’m joking.

Deadpool 2 is the sort of film that a lot of people your age, maybe a bit younger, might not be able to see. What films are there that you can think of that perhaps, arguably, you shouldn’t have been allowed to see?

I saw Paranormal Activity 2 when I was 11 or something, with my cousins. The worst decision ever. I couldn’t sleep for the next three months. I was just so scared and I’ve actually never told Mum that. That’s why I’m scared of the dark. That’s why I used to be scared of the dark because of that movie. But that’s really the only horror movie I’ve seen, and It. Yeah, shouldn’t have seen It.

But, of course, all people should see Deadpool 2 regardless of their age, right?

They can do that trenchcoat thing. Have you seen that video with the two dudes in the trenchcoat? Yeah, you guys just need to sneak in the film. If you’re small enough you can fit in a bag, in a duffel bag, maybe.

This is all great. You realise this is all going to sell fewer tickets for the film though.

I take that all back. Just go and buy tickets at cinemas because it comes out on May 16th. Awesome. Rehearsed that for two hours.

You play a kid with powers. How do you go about preparing to shoot stuff out of your fists?

They had a lot of dots on my hands and a lot of CGI silver balls. I didn’t wear a costume or anything with the balls on it. It wasn’t that intense but it was still intense. We did a lot of choreography, a lot of the moves of the Haka also Tai Chi and stuff. They were like, “You need a special move and then you need something you learn.” There was a lot of this sort of weird stuff and we also read the comics as well. Russell Collins, he’s different in the comics. He’s this blond kid, goes to the navy, comes back and he gets his powers.

You didn’t actually set your hands on fire?

No. No. I wanted to. Maybe vaseline, can you do it with vaseline? Or paw paw cream, maybe. Put that all over my hands, or you know what you used to do as a kid, you used to spit on your finger and then you would wave it through the fire? Maybe if I just spat all over my hands and then lit them on fire, it would work right there. No, I never got set on fire but there was a lot of fire around me and it got really hot. So I’d get so hot and this lady would come over. She was the squirt lady. She would just squirt me down with a bottle and then wipe my face, and then she would leave, and then she would come back.

Is that the treatment that you’re now going to be accustomed to?

Yeah, my head is getting bigger and bigger. So by the next film, I will need a permanent squirt lady. When I’m getting hot she will squirt me down with a water bottle… I’m talking that to my publicist, actually, to make it happen, aren’t I? [Checks with publicist]. Yeah, so it’s happening.

We’ve established you didn’t actually set your hands on fire. That’s probably for the best.

Disappointing.

It’s not great for content for us. It would have been a great story to break.

It would have been an exclusive though. Entertainment Weekly won’t have that.

Was there anyone from your educational experience that you drew upon for Eddie Marsan’s character, the asshole Headmaster?

No. Eddie, he was a great guy. He actually shaved his head for the role. That wasn’t a wig. He was that committed. And he did a really good job of freaking us all out. No, not anyone that I can think of because I don’t want my school getting on Newshub, again. I’m joking.

We haven’t really talked about Ryan Reynolds at all.

Do we need to?

Maybe a little bit.

OK, OK. If you want to.

Yeah. Just a tiny bit.

I didn’t really want to, but OK. He was amazing to work with. I remember the first time meeting him in LA. There was me and my Mum and my agent, Jude Lane. We were talking to David Leitch and he said, “Oh yeah, Ryan’s going to come.” I was like, “It can’t be Ryan Reynolds. He wouldn’t have the time for us.” He came out in a green Christmas sweater and some jeans. Why do I remember what he was wearing so vividly? Probably loafers if I could think about it. Came down, sat next to us and he told us this whole storyline. They gave us a bit of the script that we could learn overnight. And then we went back and we taped with them and ended up getting the part. He was amazing to work with and he’s so dedicated to this role and he’s so dedicated to making a great film for this loyal following that Deadpool has. So it was really cool to work with him.

“Don’t beat yourself up!”

Yeah. They’re like, “Don’t beat yourself up.” I was like, “It’s a joke. Okay. Watch 7 Days or something.” But, no, it was really cool being there and they got our jokes and stuff. And Ryan, yeah, he has the same sense of humour, like Taika does. They’re very similar.

What’s the single most fun opportunity that’s come out of getting to do this film?

Probably just doing press. I’m going to Sydney. Just meeting new people.

This moment right here?

Yeah. This right here, actually. I’m not doing that to make me get a good interview. I’m not doing that. But, yeah, just going around – we get to go to New York in a few days, and just traveling the world. I’m really lucky. As a 15-year-old kid I can’t say that I’ve traveled that much. It’s really fortunate. Yeah. It’s a dream.

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