“I have anxiety, I’ve always had anxiety,” the 41-year-old actor told The New York Times Thursday. “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.”
Despite his cool and confident demeanor, the Times described Reynolds as a nervous wreck who gets “wracked by dread and nausea” before talk show appearances and convinces himself that he “might die.”
In fact, when Reynolds worked on ABC’s “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place,” back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, he said he’d do the audience warm-up to help ease “the energy of just wanting to throw up.”
Reynolds’ anxiety extends beyond pre-show jitters, however.
As a young boy, Reynolds said he spent much of his time trying to avoid agitating his dad, or “the stress dispensary in our house,” by keeping their home in Vancouver, British Columbia, exceedingly clean.
“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.”
Yet, his father also introduced him to comedy greats such as Buster Keaton and Jack Benny, who helped Reynolds develop his trademark sense of humor — that, the actor also admitted, he uses as a self-defense mechanism.
For instance, while promoting “Deadpool 2,” Reynolds has found that doing interviews in character has helped him combat stress. He also said that once he actually begins an interview, a lot of his anxiety vanishes.
“When the curtain opens, I turn on this knucklehead, and he kind of takes over and goes away again once I walk off set,” he said. “That’s that great self-defense mechanism. I figure if you’re going to jump off a cliff, you might as well fly.”