In between appearing in a gin ad that led his wife, Blake Lively, to declare him “huge,” and taking on the role of Detective Pikachu, Ryan Reynolds has landed himself another gig: He’s the newest face of the Armani Code fragrance collection, as well as that of the brand’s latest scent, Code Absolu. The job qualifications, according to Giorgio Armani, were charisma, authenticity, effortless style, and “the right dose of irony.” That’s why you hire the most ironic superhero of them all, we guess.
Reynolds’s latest project actually gives us a look at his real face, though, thanks in large part to a mini action film that the actor and Handmaid’s Tale fan is very excited to share was directed by Reed Morano, who won an Emmy for directing the series. The film, like the new scents—the perfumer Antoine Maisondieu’s new blends incorporate rum, suede, and vanilla into its signature base of tonka bean—is part of Armani’s efforts to expand its definition of masculinity, which has, like that of the rest of the world, undergone some changes in the past 15 years.
How did you end up working with Reed Morano?
I’ve a huge fan of Reed—I’ve known her for a long time, before working with her on this. It was one of the things I was excited about when Armani first approached us, because we got to do something a little difference from the usual fragrance ad. There seems to be a kit or something that they use for each of these fragrance ads, so I thought finding a real filmmaker would be a way to make it different and out of the box, which I knew that Reed would deliver.
Do you watch The Handmaid’s Tale?
Every single episode. We’ve never missed one.
You and Blake? Are you caught up?
Yeah, we can’t wait for the new ones. The trailer for the third season was so, so, so great—and it had a great Super Bowl spot!
When did you start wearing fragrances?
I have three older brothers, so I was kind of mimicking them in high school. Everything I had was a hand-me-down—clothes, fragrance, all that stuff—so I’d just do what they did. But the first one I remember was my dad’s. I don’t remember what he wore, but it was weirdly inviting and approachable…which isn’t necessarily how I would describe him. [Laughs.] But his fragrance is pretty indelible in my mind. I’d remember it if I smelled it—and if I smelled it right now, it would be kind of haunting for me. It’s funny, because fragrances are very intrinsic to personality. You try a few until you find one that really fits. I had to experiment as a kid.
Did you wear too much at first?
Oh, of course—everyone has those moments where you go overboard. But I don’t think I ever did that at school, because growing up, my goal with school was to be as invisible as humanly possible. Like, I wanted to make invisibility an Olympic sport.
Were you successful?
I was pretty successful! I did all right. I never wanted to wear anything that would make me stick out or stand out. I think it just comes from growing up with three older brothers, and being more of a moving target than I was a sibling.
Oh, I’m sorry.
No, it’s fine. It’s good—it builds character. I wouldn’t change a thing now.
So, does Code Absolu really give you the sense of confidence, masculinity, and seduction that it promises?
Well, I fail in most of those categories. [Laughs.] No, you do feel confident, which I think is important. And I stick with things—I don’t change things up that often. My wife laughs at me because my closet is really a drawer. I have a small amount of clothes, and that’s just it. I sort of stick to things that work for me, which definitely goes for fragrance. If you find something that makes you feel good, or matches who you are or who you project yourself to be, it’s something to keep.
What else has made the cut into your drawer?
If I’m going to a press thing or something, I’m usually not wearing something too garish or outlandish, which is from the same principles I’ve had for most of my life. I don’t know if that’s sad or a good quality. But at home, I wear the same hoodie with a pretty basic white T-shirt and sweats or khakis or something like that.
Is there a character you’ve played that you think would wear this scent?
Probably Will Hayes, in a movie I did called Definitely, Maybe, which takes place in New York. It’s a really fun standard romantic comedy I did years ago. He’s like a guy that sort of says what he does and does what he says and is imbued with a tremendous amount of integrity, almost foolishly so. He’s warm, he’s approachable, he’s a guy you can trust. I’m obsessed with Jimmy Stewart and some of those guys from yesteryear that really kind of set the template for the next generation, which is the Tom Hanks of the world and those kinds of guys who I feel like are some of our most trusted people, and I love that about them. That character is one of the few times that I got to flirt with the world of Jimmy Stewart a bit. I felt like it was a role he would have done if he’d have been my age at that time.
Do you ever use fragrance to get into character?
No, that would be, like, number 80 on a list of things I find more important to worry about. I’ve always loved writing, so usually the first thing I do is crack open the script and see how I can retrofit some of the dialogue to smooth things over. Sometimes you work with writers who are so good at what they do that you don’t touch a thing, but one person’s interpretation of how someone would speak is so different from another’s, and, you know, collaborations are always great.
What do you think Pikachu smells like?
Oh, he just smells like unadulterated adorable. He smells like pure softness.
What about Deadpool?
Deadpool, probably not so much. I imagine he just smells like a dump truck had sex with a grenade. Something pretty horrible. Probably sweat and then what’s even worse than sweat, which is neglect. Deadpool smells like neglect.
What’s the most memorable Valentine’s Day you’ve spent together with your wife? Probably something I’m not going to be too comfortable sharing here, but yeah, it was a pretty memorable one. Lots of fireworks.