How Amityville Horror Changed Ryan Reynolds Forever

The 2000s were a little tough on Ryan Reynolds. Though he starred in some truly fun comedies during that era of his career, he also had roles in the critically panned and commercially unsuccessful "Blade: Trinity," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," and the remake of "The Amityville Horror." Not only did these movies bomb, but they were each notoriously difficult to shoot for many reasons. 

After the conflicts between Wesley Snipes and director David S. Goyer on the set of "Blade: Trinity," Reynolds did "Amityville," and the shoot was surprisingly intense. Spooky things kept happening on set, and Reynolds started feeling a little unhinged while playing a character losing his mind. He hasn't done a horror movie since, and has only dipped his toe back into creepy territory once for the 2015 black comedy "The Voices," so clearly the "Amityville" experience left its mark. You might even say he's haunted by it.

The Then-Rising Star of Ryan Reynolds

Sure, Ryan Reynolds is a household name now, but in 2005 he was still on his way to becoming everyone's favorite snarky leading guy. The Canadian actor was born in Vancouver and got his start on a Canadian TV series called "Hillside." After that, he got a few bit parts in other shows, including an episode of "The X-Files," but his big break came when he starred in the series "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place" with fellow Canuck comedy upstart Nathan Fillion. Shortly after the series ended, Reynolds had his first starring role in a movie, as the titular character in "National Lampoon's Van Wilder." From there, he started acting in a lot of comedies but also diverged to try some action, horror, and other genre films. Unfortunately for Reynolds, his adventures in genre cinema were mostly flops, though he's a bright spot in all of them.

Reynolds filmed "The Amityville Horror" immediately after the nightmarish production of "Blade: Trinity," and even joked with reporters that his character is in such good shape because he was still ripped from the vampire flick. Though Reynolds told RadioFree that he was admittedly not a huge horror fan, he was still excited to tackle the role of a man who was slowly unraveling. He just didn't realize that he would unravel a little, as well.

Strange On-Set Happenings and a Spooky House

There have been many stories over the years about strange things happening on horror sets, and the amount of weirdness on the "Amityville" set was hard to deny. Given the film's basis in the allegedly real experiences of George and Kathy Lutz and the murders of the DeFeo family in 1974, the incidents were enough to spook anyone.

Early on during filming, a body washed up on the shore of the lake near set, causing production to shut down for a few days. The real Kathy Lutz died of emphysema during filming, which some found to be ominous. Some of the crew also experienced bizarre coincidences, like waking up at exactly 3:15 a.m., a time relevant to the events in the film. Reynolds told MovieWeb:

"I think a lot of people make that stuff up to sell their movie, but there was some weird stuff that happened. A lot of the crew were waking up at 3:15 in the morning which was when all these atrocities in the house took place each time. I think it was a subconscious thing. You read the script and suddenly pop awake at 3:15 in the morning."

One thing that wasn't just subconscious was Reynolds' feelings about the house, which was a real home from the 1800s retrofitted to look more like the original Amityville house. Though the original home still stands in New York, the film used a house from that era in Salem, Wisconsin. Reynolds said the location was deeply unsettling, even though it didn't have the Amityville house's haunted history:

"They found this house that they sort of retrofitted. It's terrifying. You walk up and it's just upsetting. There's something about the house that's upsetting. There's something about the colors around it, everything was just a little upsetting."

Going a Little Too Far

In "The Amityville Horror," family patriarch George Lutz starts slowly losing his mind as a result of the angry ghosts of the murdered DeFeo family. His downward spiral has been compared to Jack Nicholson in "The Shining," as he starts becoming violent and unhinged as his mind starts to slip. At one point while filming, Reynolds got so wrapped up in a scene that he slapped one of his young co-stars even though it wasn't in the script. Chloe Grace Moretz and Jesse James played the Lutz children, and during one of the scenes where George is upset with his son, Reynolds took things too far. He told MovieWeb:

"I didn't mean to do it. It wasn't hard or anything. He looked up like he just won the lottery. It was just so cool to him. And I look over and the script supervisor's crying, and I'm trying to apologize to her. I don't know what's happening."

Thankfully, James handled it like a pro, and his parents and everyone on set chalked it up to the intensity of the sequence, but it was a little unnerving for Reynolds:

"In a perverse way, I was sort of excited by the fact that something happened on film that was just totally unplanned. And it just came out organically enough, and not so organically that it actually hurt anyone. So everyone walked away from it, but it was definitely disturbing."

No More Scary Movies for Reynolds

Following the intense shoot, "The Amityville Horror" was released and panned by critics and audiences alike. It's a rare performance for Reynolds where he's not playing a version of himself, and it's surprisingly layered given that it's an otherwise lackluster movie. Reynolds hasn't done a horror movie since unless you count "X-Men: Origins," but that was an entirely different kind of horrific. Maybe we'll see him return to scary movies one day, but with "The Amityville Horror" as his only experience so far, it's hard to blame him for holding off.