The Transformation Of Ryan Reynolds From Childhood To 45 Years Old

Ryan Reynolds will go down in history as one of Hollywood's hunkiest heartthrobs, and he's held that celebrity status in showbiz for decades now. The legendary actor, producer, and businessman has experienced success in all aspects of his life, starting with his Canadian childhood through the ups and downs of Hollywood, heartbreak, and high-stakes celebrity "beef" (looking at you, Hugh Jackman).

Over the years, Reynolds' fame and fortune have skyrocketed tenfold. In addition to his Golden Globe-nominated acting career, Reynolds has added a series of winning roles to his resume, ranging from businessman and family man to karaoke master, and just about everything else in between. He's even become a co-owner of a famed Welsh soccer club that inspired its own docuseries on FX. The versatile movie star's journey only seems to get more impressive as the years go on. And the transformation of Ryan Reynolds truly encapsulates how captivating his life continues to be.

Oh, Canada!

Ryan Reynolds was born on Oct. 23, 1976 and grew up in Vancouver, Canada as the youngest of four boys. Speaking to Sirius XM EW Radio (via Yahoo! News), he explained that being the baby brother of the family taught him strong survival instincts. "I wasn't considered a younger brother," he said. "I was considered a moving target."

Yet, when things would get testy with his father, a former cop, his brothers were always there to defend their sibling — in their own way. In an episode of David Letterman's Netflix series, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction" (via Today), Reynolds recalled a time when his brothers got their ears pierced to match (and protect) their sibling's defiant act. "I [saw] that all three of my brothers had gotten an earring to sorta save me," Reynolds explained. "[It was] one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my life."

Some of Reynolds' upbringing has even made its way into his work. In the 2022 Netflix film "The Adam Project," which he produced and starred in, the narrative of a boy and his future self making peace with their father allowed him to process some of the lingering friction from his childhood. "I used to sort of describe [my dad] as, like, a skin-covered landmine," Reynolds shared with CBS News. "I attribute some of why I'm good at my job from that. I'm perceptive. I watch carefully for danger. And, you know, as an adult, that can really come in handy."

Ryan Reynolds' pre-acting jobs

Far before he shone in the Hollywood spotlight, Ryan Reynolds took a plethora of non-acting jobs to make his way in the world. "Before I was in show business I drove a forklift, I worked in restaurants, I was a busboy, I was a waiter, I was a cashier," he told Yahoo! Entertainment. According to Reynolds, all of his former and now current jobs, though varied, did end up having at least one thing in common. "I got a pretty close-up experience of what it feels like to sometimes feel a little invisible in your job, in particular," he told the outlet. "And then once I got into show business, when you're starting out ... you have moments of invisibility and you have existential crises."

By the time he did get into the acting business, his first series of jobs weren't exactly paying out those stacked Hollywood big bucks. In an interview on "Live with Kelly and Ryan," Reynolds shared that his first paid Hollywood gig was a role on the teen soap opera "Fifteen" that aired on Nickelodeon. However, it still wasn't enough to cover minimum expenses. "I remember we were paid 150 bucks per episode, and I still had a paper route.," he shared in the 2016 interview. "So I would do my TV show and then I'd go home and do my paper route each day."

He leveled up in his '90s television career

After his stint on the Canadian teen soap opera "Fifteen," Ryan Reynolds made the rounds on several Canadian and American-based television programs throughout the mid-'90s. This included appearances on staples from that era like "The X-Files" and the 1996 TV film version of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," as well as smaller series and films, like 1994's "My Name Is Kate" and the Barbra Streisand-produced "Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermayer Story," a year later.

According to Biography, Reynolds left his Canadian homeland in the late '90s and moved to Los Angeles to expand his acting career. In 1998, he landed his first major television role as Michael "Berg" Bergen on ABC's "Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place" (later shortened to "Two Guys and a Girl"). The sitcom lasted four seasons and ended in 2001.

The actor seems to remember his sitcom days fondly. When it was announced that he would be producing a new game show called "DON'T" on ABC in 2019, Reynolds (and his snarky wit) took to Twitter to shout out his former co-stars while concocting a fantasy about his old sitcom returning. "ABC cruelly canceled 'Two Guys, A Girl & a Pizza Place' 18 years ago," he wrote. "'DON'T' is so good, it'll fast become the 2nd best show ABC has ever produced. And ABC will worship me. And my sitcom will be back on the air."

Wildin' out ... and then some

Ryan Reynolds made the indefinite switch to movie stardom with his breakout starring role in 2002's "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" (later retitled "Van Wilder: Party Liaison"). The raunchy comedy made a household name out of Reynolds. However, he struggled to shake off the party-hard association of the title role as his career progressed. "I know it affected me more than I'm revealing because I know that I went years without even saying the words 'Van Wilder,'" he told GQ (via Suggest).

From "Van Wilder" on, it was off to the cinematic races for Reynolds. Throughout the 2000s, he cemented his star status through films of all genres. He featured in the action-packed "Blade: Trinity" and "Smokin' Aces," made audiences cackle with comedic roles in "Just Friends," and "Waiting...," and he made rom-com meet-cutes look positively saccharine with flicks like "The Proposal" and "Definitely, Maybe." He even took a stab at jump scares in a spooky remake of "The Amityville Horror." 

Reynolds eventually became so beloved for his charming wit and his tall, muscled physique, that he was named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 2010. He also made his initial dabble in the superhero genre with "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and the ill-fated "Green Lantern." And as for that superhero body? Reynolds revealed to People it's more challenging than meets the eye. "My body naturally wants to look like Dick Van Dyke. So I have to eat a lot: protein, carbs, all that kind of stuff," he explained.

Ryan's star-studded relationship resume

As Ryan Reynolds' star continued to rise, so did the public's interest in his love life. He has had several long-term relationships with other high-profile entertainers that have been widely publicized. From 2002 to 2006, the actor was in a relationship with fellow Canadian and iconic-and-"Ironic" 90s pop-rock musician Alanis Morissette. The two became engaged in 2004 and were very supportive of each other. In a 2005 interview with People, the singer-songwriter oddly said of her then-fiance, "I feel so loved by him, in a trampoline kind of way. He's always very happy for me." That same year, Morissette even made a tongue-in-cheek cameo in a deleted scene in Reynolds' comedy film, "Just Friends."

After their split, Reynolds found love again and eventually married MCU alum, Scarlett Johansson. Speaking about how much he loved married life in 2010, the "Free Guy" star told People, "[I] get to hang out with [my] best buddy every day." However, just a few weeks after making this statement, the pair called it quits after two years of marriage. While Reynolds has kept things close to his chest about his previous relationships, he has still found ways to use his trademark wit to keep things light. While promoting "Deadpool" on "The Today Show" in 2016, he sang a line from Morisette's chart-topping hit, "Ironic" as a live on-air shoutout to his ex. 

When Ryan Met Blake

While working on "Green Lantern" in 2010, Ryan Reynolds' love life took a turn when he was cast alongside actor Blake Lively. At the time, the "Deadpool" actor was married to his first wife, Scarlett Johansson, while Lively was in a relationship with Penn Badgley, her former Gossip Girl co-star.  That same year, Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson announced their divorce. Meanwhile, Lively and Badgley broke up in October 2011, just months after the "Green Lantern" premiere, according to E! News

Even though both Reynolds and Lively were fresh out of relationships, they did not rush into anything when it came to their own relationship. It wasn't until a chance double-date with other people that sparks really flew between the two co-stars. Reynolds detailed the sweet moment that he realized his relationship with Lively was more than just platonic. "I remember it was funny because ... we were both single. We went on a double date. She was on a date with another guy, and I was on a date with another girl," the star reminisced to Entertainment Weekly (via Time). "That was the most awkward date [from their perspective] probably because we were just like fireworks coming across [the table]."

Needless to say, the two were apparently inseparable since that moment and in 2012 they got married in Charleston, South Carolina.

Promotion to Papa

After making their first red carpet debut as a married couple at the 2014 Met Gala, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively began to open up a bit more regarding details of their growing family. In October of that year, Lively announced that she was pregnant with their first child. The "Gossip Girl" star shared the news on her former lifestyle blog, Preserve (via Hello!). Titled, "Preserve Celebrations: Falling for family," the post featured the then-expecting mom cradling her growing baby bump. "Today we celebrate [family] ... Congratulations to all the expecting mothers out there."

By December 2014, the lovebirds officially became parents when Lively gave birth to their daughter, James, near their Bedford, N.Y. home. Two years later, the pair welcomed a daughter, Inez, followed by their youngest daughter, Betty, in 2019. For Reynolds, who grew up in a house full of boys, being a dad of three girls has come with lots of excitement — and terror. In a discussion at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022 (via People), Reynolds joked "I'm a parent of three girls. They're wild. I think they have rabies sometimes."

As for co-parenting with his wife, Reynolds credits Lively with being the anchor of their family unit. On an episode of "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction," the actor told David Letterman, "Blake runs the show, I would kind of really phone things in if it wasn't for her."

Becoming The Ultimate Foul-Mouthed Superhero

Ryan Reynolds' campaign to play Marvel comics anti-hero Wade "Deadpool" Wilson was a decade-long affair. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Reynolds shared that the wait to get the film made was tough but worthwhile. "Looking back, I'm so grateful that we didn't make the movie [in the 2000s] because it's so much more timely now," he said. After a disastrous first attempt at introducing the character in 2009's  "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," Reynolds petitioned the superhero movie gods to let him take a katana-wielding stab at his own version of the Merc with the Mouth. By 2014, leaked test footage of the film went viral, and the world clamored for more.

Despite the buzz, Reynolds and his team faced budgetary challenges. "We didn't have a lot of resources to pull from, but we made the most of what we had, and I wouldn't have it any other way," he told the Los Angeles Times. The gamble was a success and "Deadpool" became the top-grossing R-rated film of all time — that record held firm until "Deadpool 2" (which Reynolds co-wrote) surpassed it in 2018. Eventually, both records were broken by "Joker" a year later. 

Through tongue-in-cheek marketing campaigns and various fourth wall-breaking featurettes, the character has become synonymous with Reynolds — something that he fully embraces. "I'm just glad we made it now while I can still run, jump, shoot and be a smartass," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Ryan Reynolds: Master Marketer

After Deadpool's cheeky marketing campaign went viral, Ryan Reynolds expanded upon the film's tongue-in-cheek advertising style in his own way. In 2018, he co-founded Maximum Effort, a two-pronged firm that covers both production and marketing. According to the company's wittily titled "Aboot" section, "Maximum Effort makes movies, tv series, content, ads, and cocktails for the personal amusement of Hollywood Star Ryan Reynolds. We occasionally release them to the general public."

In 2021, Maximum Effort was acquired by advertising firm MNTN (pronounced Mountain) with Reynolds named Chief Creative Officer. Speaking to Forbes, Reynolds credited his most recognizable role as the Merc with a Mouth as inspiring him to dive into the marketing realm. "I really had a crash course in the value of marketing and storytelling in this context through 'Deadpool,'" he explained. "'Deadpool' taught me that necessity is the mother of invention."

Several of Maximum Effort's ads have had similar viral appeal to "Deadpool"'s out-there efforts. The firm's projects have ranged from feature film promos to tie-ins with liquor brands, cell phone providers, and public-private partnerships within the film industry. Most recently, the group has expanded into television by signing a first-look deal with FuboTV that will spawn the launch of Maximum Effort TV. The goal of the organization? It's simple to Reynolds. "Maximum Effort's mission is to bring people together in fun and unexpected ways," he said in a statement about the FuboTV deal, per The Wrap.

Ryan Reynolds added businessman to his resume

Beyond marketing, Ryan Reynolds has become a successful business owner throughout multiple industries. In 2019, Reynolds became part owner of Mint Mobile, a budget-friendly, wireless-cutting phone service. According to the New York Post, Reynolds' stake in the company ranges from 20 to 25%. He began sharing about Mint Mobile through his large social media following and the business reportedly saw record revenue growth of 50,000% (yes, you read that right) between November 2017 and November 2020.

Reynolds has also been part-owner of Aviation American Gin since 2018 and acts as an ambassador of the brand in just about every appearance he makes. Just like his other business ventures, the actor utilizes his Maximum Effort marketing firm to create memorable advertisements (or in-flight entertainment, as the brand's marketing spiel describes it) to promote the alcohol. He even created his own (questionable) cocktails alongside Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" to show how the gin goes with everything ... or, just about everything. Maybe don't mix it with horseradish and pureed Twinkies

In 2020, the company was sold to spirits seller Diageo (owner of Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff) for $610 million, further showing Reynolds' business prowess. Per Food & Wine, in a statement, Reynolds said, "A little over two years ago, I became an owner of Aviation Gin because I love the taste of Aviation more than any other spirit. What I didn't expect was the sheer creative joy learning a new industry would bring."

Ryan (and The Gang) Buy A Soccer Club

One of Ryan Reynolds' most recent endeavors is his co-ownership of Wrexham A.F.C, a Welsh football club across the pond. Along with co-owner Rob McElhenney of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia," the actor took 100% control of the club in early 2021. Since then, the pair have shepherded in a new, highly publicized era of one of the oldest operating football clubs in the world.

The pair may have made an unexpected switch of industries with this acquisition, but the co-owners are making a point of putting their all into their investment — including the community that it serves. "We are here to say that we're gonna be responsible, respectful, and reverent of the institution that is Wrexham and that we're going to do everything we can to grow this and build this like we would any other business, or film or television show," Reynolds said in an interview with The Athletic.

There's even a documentary series called "Welcome to Wrexham" that chronicles Reynolds and McElhenney's journey to help the club receive a promotion to a higher league. The show, which CNN suggested wanted to be "the real-life Ted Lasso," premiered in August 2022.

His Star-Studded Bromances Are Friendship Goals

Are you even a Hollywood heavyweight if you don't have at least a handful of go-to celebrity besties? Ryan Reynolds certainly has his share, with whom he spends his personal time and playfully chides in his social media posts. The most prolific of these bromances is with Hugh Jackman, the actor's co-star from 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." Since then, the pair have created a faux-frenemy relationship that they tout online through disparaging ads and playfully antagonistic interviews. In reality, the two couldn't be closer, often showing up for one another's creative projects (in their own way) and even celebrating the holidays together.

Reynolds also calls Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson a pal. Before starring in the Netflix action flick "Red Notice" together, the two started down their Hollywood path together. In an interview with IMDb, Johnson revealed that the pair met while promoting their respective films, "The Scorpion King," and "Van Wilder," in 2002 and have remained friends ever since. "We're like an old couple who bicker and fight," he explained. "And of course, we love and respect each other." The Canadian actor made a surprise appearance in Johnson's "Hobbs and Shaw," while he returned the favor with a masked cameo in Reynolds' flick "Free Guy."

Speaking of cameos, the actor has also traded appearances with Brad Pitt. The Hollywood legend made a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in "Deadpool 2" while Reynolds appeared as a silent but silly silhouette in "Bullet Train."

Even Superheroes Have Anxiety

Similar to many, Ryan Reynolds has detailed his ongoing struggle with mental well-being. "I have anxiety, I have always had anxiety," he detailed in an interview with The New York Times. "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." His high-profile career has not eased this struggle. "When there's built-in expectation, your brain always processes that as danger," he told the outlet. His humor, he confessed, was a self-defense mechanism to help him cope. As soon as he brings out his witty Hollywood persona, the anxiety abates.

As a child, he found that busying himself with domestic chores helped to maintain some calm around the family home when his father was around. "I became this young skin-covered micro manager," he said. "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."

But it's his own children that have inspired him to take his mental health public. In an interview with ET, Reynolds shared how his three daughters encouraged him to talk openly about his struggles with anxiety. "Part of my job as a parent is to model behaviors and model what it's like to be sad and model what it's like to be anxious, or angry," he explained. "... There's space for all these things."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.