Ryan Reynolds uses his 'Deadpool' character (and an app) to cope with crippling anxiety

Taryn Ryder
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Ryan Reynolds may play a superhero onscreen, but the Deadpool 2 star is actually super human. Blake Lively‘s husband is opening up about his lifelong battle with anxiety.

“I have anxiety, I’ve always had anxiety,” Reynolds reveals to the New York Times. “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.”

Ryan Reynolds attends the press conference for the Seoul premiere of Deadpool 2 on May 2. (Photo: Getty Images)

The 41-year-old actor says he is overcome with dread and nausea before every talk-show appearance, becoming convinced he might die. Profiles — like the one he sat down for with the Times — make him so queasy and jittery that he says he barely ate.

Reynolds experienced crippling anxiety in his early 20s, calling that tumultuous time his “real unhinged phase.”

“I was partying and just trying to make myself vanish in some way,” he says, explaining that he would wake up in the middle of the night paralyzed by anxiety, agonizing about his future. Reynolds notes that he got through it by self-medicating, but after he had friends die of overdoses, he curbed the partying.

As Reynolds found success, his anxiety was only amplified. Ever since he was a kid, he says he has used humor as a self-defense mechanism, and it’s something he’s carried forward through his career. While starring on ABC’s Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place from 1998 to 2001, Reynolds would warm up the audience to redirect his panic or, as he describes it, “the energy of just wanting to throw up.”

Reynolds has alluded to his anxiety before, telling GQ in 2016 he had “a little bit of a nervous breakdown” after the success of Deadpool.

So, how does he overcome it?

Besides using humor as a shield (which you should know he’s quite good at if you follow him on social media), Reynolds has found some other helpful mechanisms. He reveals he uses the meditation app Headspace. As for coping with the grueling Deadpool 2 press circuit, Reynolds reveals he’s going to do most of his promotional interviews and appearances in character. When he walks onstage, he says he knows the anxiety will lift.

“When the curtain opens, I turn on this knucklehead, and he kind of takes over and goes away again once I walk off set,” Reynolds reveals. “That’s that great self-defense mechanism. I figure if you’re going to jump off a cliff, you might as well fly.”

There’s also the bonus of having a great partner. When talking about Lively, with whom he shares two kids, Reynolds exclaims, “She gets me a lot.”

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