Tragic Details About Ryan Reynolds

With joy and woe being woven fine, life has never really been a cakewalk for anyone — and not even movie stars are spared. While their lives leave audiences starstruck, celebrities don't skate by without their own share of tragedies. Canadian-American actor Ryan Reynolds, who is best known for playing the quippy anti-hero "Deadpool," has faced his fair share of tragic life events.

However, as the saying goes, artists have a mind more sensitive than others — which is why some unfortunate incidents have affected Reynolds and his mental health to a great extent and continue to haunt him to date.

Masking all his troubles and struggles over the years, the actor has established an extremely successful career in the entertainment industry, and that is undoubtedly the kind of positivity all of us should look up to. Here's a list of tragic details about Ryan Reynolds you may not know.

He had a complex relationship with his father

Among the many other things Ryan Reynolds has candidly spoken out about is his estranged relationship with his late father, James. Describing James as "a former cop, former boxer and full-time landmine." Reynolds noted in an essay he wrote for Time, "He worked tirelessly to provide for his family, and in return, you were expected to do what he said, often before he said it ... He was scary because he was one of those people with an energetic 'weight' to him."

As Reynolds told GQ in 2016, the image of the father he dreamt of having as a child was far from what he was presented with. "I always wanted that father ... who would put me on his lap and just dispense incredible life advice and guidance, and I would go out into the world and execute it beautifully. From my earliest memory of him, my father was that stereotypical tough guy ... I just don't feel like I ever had a real conversation with him," he shared.

During a 2021 appearance on an episode of the "SmartLess" podcast, Reynolds explained how his relationship with James contributed to his anxiety back when he was just a child. As the actor noted, the fear that his actions would enrage his father led him to anticipate what he might have to face in the future. "I think predicting the future is a big brick in a wall of anxiety," he said.

He has struggled with anxiety for almost the entirety of his life

Ryan Reynolds first publicly talked about his anxiety in 2021. In an attempt to help "destigmatize talking about [mental health]," the actor spoke out about his own challenges through an Instagram post he shared in late May 2021, the month America observes as Mental Health Awareness Month. "One of the reasons I'm posting this so late is I overschedule myself, and important things slip. And one of the reasons I overschedule myself is my lifelong pal, anxiety," his post began. Reynolds has been vocal about mental health ever since.

In June 2021, the actor revealed to ET that his choice to open up was also largely inspired by his approach to parenting his three daughters. Per Reynolds, "Part of my job as a parent is to model behaviors and model what it's like to be sad ... anxious, or angry. That there's space for all these things." It turned out that his words helped him encourage and connect with others.

Surprisingly, his anxiety doesn't always affect his work, and according to the actor himself, to some extent it's because he has what feels like two personalities. Explaining the phenomenon, he explained to CBS, "When I would go out on, like, 'Letterman,' back in the day ... I would think to myself, 'I'm gonna die' ... But as soon as that curtain opens, [the other side of my personality] takes over. And he's like, 'I got this. You're cool.'"

He was in a life-threatening accident at 19

Back in 1996, Ryan Reynolds suffered grave injuries after he was hit by a drunk driver while walking home. Recalling the incident, Reynolds shared in a 2019 Global Grind interview, "I was 19, in Vancouver, Canada (the drinking age is different there). I'd had a couple of drinks, and I didn't want to get in my car ... I walked home, and on my way home, I got hit by a drunk driver!" 

As a result, the actor had multiple bones fractured on the left side of his body. He was promptly taken to a hospital, where he didn't regain consciousness until three days after the accident. As he told CTV News back in 2011, "Since [the accident], I've been a rickety, broken mess." (via US Magazine)

However, to this day, whenever Reynolds has talked about the almost deadly accident, he has never failed to make the interviewer or the audience laugh. As he recollected during the CTV News interview, when he finally woke up from the coma, his father was right by his side and drenched in vomit. The actor jokingly told the publication, "Nothing says love like painting someone with three-day-old Gin Rummies. Just soaked the man head to toe in my vomit."

His marriage to Scarlett Johansson was shortlived

Ryan Reynolds first went public with his relationship with actor Scarlett Johansson back in April 2007, and they announced their engagement a year later. By late September 2008, the duo was married, and by December 2010, they had called it quits. Although the reason behind their separation is still somewhat of a mystery, at the time, people speculated and sources claimed that the super busy working lives of the then-in-demand actors were to blame. 

The aftermath of the divorce left Ryan Reynolds heartbroken and devastated. In 2011, he told Details Magazine, "Anyone who gets divorced goes through a lot of pain ... " In fact, Reynolds was so affected that he made a pretty bold statement: "I don't think I want to get married again." (via Daily Mail)

Announcing the breakup in 2010, Reynolds' rep stated, "We entered our relationship with love and it's with love and kindness we leave it. While privacy isn't expected, it's certainly appreciated." (via E! News) The former couple has seemingly kept true to their word; to this day, they have never publicly thrown mud at one another. As a matter of fact, Johansson actually praised Reynolds during her early 2023 appearance on Gwyneth Paltrow's "Goop" podcast, saying, "He's a good guy" (via People).

Green Lantern's failure at the box office was tough on him

Before the Ryan Reynolds-starring Warner Brothers film "Green Lantern" was released in 2011, everyone, including the cast, crew, and the audience, had high expectations for it. Unfortunately, after spending $300 million on production and marketing, the studio domestically grossed only $116 million for the film. 

When the film turned out to be a flop, "Green Lantern" became an obstacle that initially kept Fox from casting Reynolds as another superhero and prevented "Deadpool" from getting a seal of approval. As Reynolds told Variety, "Part of the reason 'Deadpool' wasn't greenlit right away was certainly because of me. If Robert Downey Jr. was playing it — I don't know how much greener a light you can get to make a movie."

At 2023's Just For Laughs festival in London, Reynolds revealed what watching "Green Lantern" for the first time felt like to host Rob Delaney, saying, "It was not a feeling I wanted to repeat. So I really spent the following years just owning as much as I could, it was the only way to kind of process it." (via Independent) Although the film's failure initially took a toll on Reynolds, the actor seemingly got over it. In 2016, "Deadpool" director Tim Miller revealed to The Guardian that the scene in his film that mocked "Green Lantern" was a brainchild of Reynolds himself. "I think 'The Green Lantern' going so wrong was tough on him, but it's in his nature to address that," Miller noted.

His father's death took a toll on him

In 2015, Ryan Reynolds' father, James, passed away after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, which he was diagnosed with back in 1995. Despite having a distanced relationship with James, Reynolds says the death of his father is something that haunts him to date. 

In 2022, Reynolds appeared on "Good Morning America" to speak about buying the Wrexham soccer team with Rob McElhenney, and he shared that the purchase made him think of his father's focus on sports and of their strained relationship: "My father has been dead for years, but that stuff doesn't really go away." (via Hello Magazine

However, the bond between the father and son duo was somewhat mended before James' death, and Reynolds thanks his wife, actor Blake Lively, for it. Although Reynolds never specified how the reconciliation took place, in 2018, he told Mr Porter, "[Blake] has a gift for foresight."

Back in 2008, Reynolds, devastated by his father's illness and suffering, became a member of the board of directors of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Run by the "Back to The Future" star himself, who was diagnosed with the disease in his late 20s, the organization aims to help people affected by Parkinson's and find a cure for the disease. In 2014, Reynolds and Lively honored James by naming their first daughter after him.

Incessant paparazzi attempts to photograph his kids led to him cutting off a friend

Back in 2015, when Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds' daughter James was just an 8-month-old baby, Reynolds revealed to GQ that he was forced to cut all ties with a friend of 25 years because "He had been shopping pictures of [Reynolds'] baby around ... just for money." He told the outlet, "I don't think [my friend] thought he would ever be caught. But it's a pretty narrow group of people that I would send photos like that to." The betrayal came as quite a shock to the actor and led to Reynolds cutting that friend off with what he describes as a "strongly worded conversation."

Reynolds and Lively have long struggled with rabid paparazzi who intrude into their personal lives, which, when it comes to the couple's kids, he wanted to keep mostly out of the spotlight. In September 2022, when Lively was expecting the couple's fourth child, she took a clear jab at paparazzi intrusion. Alongside photos of herself and friends and family, where her baby bump is clearly visible, Lively wrote on Instagram, "Here are photos of me pregnant in real life so the 11 guys waiting outside my home for a [unicorn emoji] sighting will leave me alone. You freak me and my kids out." 

While the post probably didn't shoo all of the paparazzi away, it was inspiring to see the couple be vocal about the insensitive behavior celebrities face every day.

He had a colon polyp that could have turned cancerous

In 2022, 45-year-old Ryan Reynolds and fellow actor Rob McElhenney (who was also 45 at the time) joined hands with Lead From Behind, an organization aiming to raise awareness about colon cancer, and underwent colonoscopies to support the cause. The entire procedure (except for what happened inside their colons) was filmed and shared on Reynolds' YouTube channel. While doctors found and removed three seemingly harmless polyps from McElhenney's colon, the "extremely subtle polyp" they found in Reynolds' colon was a bit more serious.

Once Reynolds gained consciousness following the procedure, the doctor who removed the polyp told him, "This was potentially life-saving for you. I'm not kidding. I'm not being overly dramatic. This is exactly why you do this. You had no symptoms." Showing Reynolds the photos of the polyp, the doctor explained why the procedure turned out to be "stunningly effective," saying, "You are interrupting the natural history of a disease ... a process that could have ended up developing into cancer and causing all sorts of problems."

Colon cancer is largely hard to catch because it presents without symptoms, but catching it early through checkups and procedures like a colonoscopy is effective. At the end of the video, a message read, "Colon cancer is preventable. If you're 45 years or older, ask your doctor about getting a colonoscopy. And help Rob and Ryan kick cancer's ass."