Over the years, even some of the most ardent fans of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have had to wrestle with a difficult question: Why, when the couple got married in 2012, did they choose to do so on the grounds of a place inextricably linked to slavery, to the point that its website boasts it was once named the “#1 Plantation in the Charleston Area” by USA Today?
Eight years later, Reynolds finally has an answer: They saw the venue on Pinterest. And according to a new interview with the actor, they’ve regretted that moment ever since.
“It’s something we’ll always be deeply and unreservedly sorry for,” Reynolds told Fast Company. “It’s impossible to reconcile. What we saw at the time was a wedding venue on Pinterest. What we saw after was a place built upon devastating tragedy.”
Eventually, Reynolds noted, he and Lively remarried at a place that wasn’t Boone Hall Plantation, which is home to nine original “slave cabins.” (Boone Hall is one of the oldest working plantations in America, dating back to the late 17th century.) “But shame works in weird ways,” Reynolds said. “A giant fucking mistake like that can either cause you to shut down or it can reframe things and move you into action. It doesn’t mean you won’t fuck up again. But re-patterning and challenging lifelong social conditioning is a job that doesn’t end.”
The interview marks the first time either Reynolds or Lively have addressed the wedding publicly, though they did acknowledge they’ve made “many mistakes” in a general apology in late May. “We’re ashamed that in the past we’ve allowed ourselves to be uninformed about how deeply rooted systemic racism is,” the couple wrote in a statement. “We want to educate ourselves about other people’s experiences and talk to our kids about everything, all of it… especially our own complicity.”
Meanwhile, Boone Hall has also recently made a form of “reparations.” In a video slideshow featuring figures like President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr., it announced the rebranding of its nine original slave cabins as “Black History in America,” an exhibit “included with admission to plantation.”