All It Took To Get Brad Pitt In Deadpool 2 Was A Call From Ryan Reynolds

Nowadays, a celebrity cameo in a movie typically acts as a setup (or payoff) for a cinematic universe. However, there was a time when a celebrity cameo was nearly exclusively used as a punchline, where the appearance of a highly famous public figure would be a joke unto itself. Witness Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in "Airplane!," David Bowie in "Zoolander," or ... a bunch of famous folks in "Casper."

Arguably one of the best, most delightful cameos in movie history came courtesy of 2009's "Zombieland," in a scene that writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese intended for a surprising appearance by a celebrity, which ended up being Bill Murray. Upon Wernick and Reese's return to write the sequel to 2016's "Deadpool," they had no explicit intentions of topping themselves in the celebrity cameo department. Yet when the perfect opportunity presented itself, they couldn't resist.

However, even with a great opportunity, the impressive and hilarious inclusion of Brad Pitt in "Deadpool 2" may not have happened were it not for an assist from star Ryan Reynolds, who secured Pitt's involvement the old fashioned way: with a telephone call.

X-Force becomes the source for jokes a-plenty

While the first "Deadpool" movie established the character of Wade Wilson (Reynolds) as someone who, like his comic book counterpart, was able to break the fourth wall at will and enjoyed poking fun at superhero movie tropes (while indulging in them, of course), "Deadpool 2" used the clout granted by the first film's success to make good on Wade's pop-culture obsession. The movie is chock-full of cameos, up to and including Reynolds appearing as himself.

One section of the film Wernick and Reese pinpointed as rich with comedic potential is where Deadpool attempts to form his own superhero team made up of mercenaries with dubious powers and abilities. With the joke of the sequence being that all but one of the team (Domino, played by Zazie Beetz) will be brutally killed off, the writers and director David Leitch decided to cast the members of X-Force with actors big enough to make their deaths more of a surprise: Terry Crews, Lewis Tan, Bill Skarsgård, and Rob Delaney.

Because of that, it struck the writers that a member of X-Force who was intended to never be seen at all should not only be seen, but would be "a perfect idea for a celebrity cameo," as Wernick recalled in 2018. The screenwriter explained how "we never saw Vanisher in the original script. He was always a mystery," but when the inspiration to cast the role with a big name hit, he and the "Deadpool 2" team decided to go after Pitt, "the hardest get in Hollywood."

The Vanisher ... un-vanishes

Pitt had some pre-existing connections with the "Deadpool 2" cast and crew, helping influence his eventual decision to make a cameo. He'd worked with Leitch back when the director was a professional stuntman who doubled for Pitt on movies such as "Ocean's Eleven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." He'd also been in the running to play the role of Cable in the film, a role which eventually went to Josh Brolin.

Ultimately, all it took for Pitt to commit to appearing in the movie was a phone call from Reynolds, to which "he immediately said yes," as Wernick remembered, the star's signing on being "a pinch-me moment" for the production. (Of course, it also helped that Pitt's children were apparently fans of the first "Deadpool.")

Once Pitt said yes, the production team could breathe a sigh of relief, as the hardest part was over with. The actual filming of Pitt's cameo only took about two hours, with Leitch recalling that "there was never a pressure — we had a whole window of post to get it done." Wernick explains how the shoot was indicative of the smoother production of "Deadpool 2" when compared to the first "Deadpool," stating that "it was a real treat to have more toys to play with in the sandbox. The premium toy being the Brad Pitt doll."

Pitt's appearance gives the X-Force sequence the hilarious celebrity cameo icing the scene needs, and helps push "Deadpool 2" to gonzo, meta-comedy heights. Even though Pitt worked with Leitch as a director for just a couple of hours, the experience and final product must've made an impression on him: he's the star of Leitch's next feature, "Bullet Train," which releases this summer. One expects his appearance in that film will be a bit longer and a bit more visible than in "Deadpool 2," but will hopefully be just as delightful.