Deadpool 2’s Julian Dennison on fiery fists, “prison wallets”, and some guy called Ryan

Q: Where do you go once you’ve starred in the top-grossing New Zealand movie of all time? A: Hollywood (or Canada, which is where Deadpool 2 was shot). Nice work, Julian Dennison. You can see the irreverent, profane action sequel for yourself from May 16 [cough, tix are on sale now, cough]. In the meantime, enjoy our chat with Dennison – he’s bloody good value.

FLICKS: You’re here to convince people they should come see a movie, where you pull the fingers, and swear and stuff. That must be really fun to do.

JULIAN DENNISON: Of course it is! I’m not that sort of kid, though. I don’t really swear, do that sort of stuff in real life but it was really fun doing it. It was different. It was challenging. Ricky Baker [Hunt for the Wilderpeople] did that a bit as well but not as intense as this film. But, no, it was really cool being able to play someone a bit more intense and there was a lot more emotion in it. Mum was also ok with the film.

Well, that’s good.

Dad hasn’t seen it yet.

Well, that’s kind of good.

Yeah, it’s kind of good actually. It’s kind of reassuring that she didn’t give me a clip around the ear after we got out of the cinema. She’s like, “If you start talking this way at home, there’s definitely going to be consequences.” She calls it contact counseling. Yeah. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal now. I’m joking. I’m joking.

I think that’s called a crime. Isn’t it?

I don’t want her to get arrested. I’m joking. I’m joking. Help [laughs]. I’m joking (send help). I’m joking (please, send help). No, it was amazing and it was really cool being able to play this really cool character.

It’s the sort of film that a lot of people your age, maybe a bit younger, might not be able to see. Might not have parents that want them to see it. What films are there that you can think of that perhaps, arguably, you shouldn’t have been allowed to see?

I want to see Once Were Warriors. I haven’t seen that yet. I want to see that. That I’ve seen but I’m not allowed… Yeah, I saw Paranormal Activity 2 when I was 11 or something, with my cousins. The worst decision ever. I couldn’t sleep for next three months. I was just so scared and I’ve actually never told Mum that. That’s why I’m scared of the dark. That’s why I used to be scared of the dark because of that movie. But that’s really the only horror movie I’ve seen, and It. Yeah, shouldn’t have seen It.

But, of course, all people should see Deadpool 2 regardless of their age, right?

They can do that trenchcoat thing. Have you seen that video with the two dudes in the trenchcoat? Yeah, you guys just need to sneak in the film. If you’re small enough you can fit in a bag, in a duffel bag, maybe.

This is all great. You realise this is all going to sell fewer tickets for the film though.

I take that all back. Just go and buy tickets at cinemas because it comes out on May 16th. Awesome – rehearsed that for two hours.

Job done. So you get to do a bunch of stuff that not just pulling the fingers and being intense in the film. But you’re a kid with powers. How do you go about preparing to shoot stuff out of your fists?

So they had a lot of dots on my hands and a lot of CGI silver balls. I didn’t wear a costume or anything with the balls on it. It wasn’t that intense but it was still intense. We did a lot of choreography, a lot of the moves of the Haka also Tai Chi and stuff. They were like, “You need a special move and then you need something you learn,”  there was a lot of this sort of weird stuff and we also read the comics as well. Russell Collins, he’s different in the comics. He’s this blond kid, goes to the navy, comes back and he gets his powers.

You didn’t actually set your hands on fire..?

No. No. I wanted to. Maybe vaseline, can you do it with vaseline? Or paw paw cream, maybe. Put that all over my hands, or you know what you used to do as a kid, you used to spit on your finger and then you would wave it through the fire? Maybe if I just spat all over my hands and then lit them on fire, it would work right there. No, I never got set on fire but there was a lot of fire around me and it got really hot. So I’d get so hot and this lady would come over. She was the squirt lady. She would just squirt me down with a bottle and then wipe my face, and then she would leave, and then she would come back.

Is that the treatment that you’re now going to be accustomed to?

Yeah, my head is getting bigger and bigger. So by the next film, I will need a permanent squirt lady. When I’m getting hot she will squirt me down with a water bottle… I’m talking that to my publicist, actually, to make it happen, aren’t I? [Checks with publicist]. Yeah, so it’s happening.

We’ve established you didn’t actually set your hands on fire. That’s probably for the best.


It’s not great for content for us. It would have been a great story to break.

It would have been an exclusive though. Entertainment Weekly won’t have that.

This next one could work quite well for us though. I was thinking about actors doing method acting, preparing for their roles, right. Like Robert De Niro driving a taxi for Taxi Driver. Did you ever practice using a “prison wallet”?

No. Not at all. No. There’s not a lot of space down there in a prison wallet. So it was really hard. And the pen, they’re probably going to sell that pen at Comic-Con for $1,300. I bet you. Or they’re going to make replicas and sell each one for $30.

Those replicas will be quite good on an office desk.

Yeah it would be. The pen was designed so it would be a girl in a black dress but if you flipped it upside down there was a thing so the dress would come down. So, yeah, I don’t know what those prop guys were doing with the pen. Just flipping it back and forth. They had so many different pens. They had soft pens, so I could stab people. They had hard pens, so I could throw it at people. They would scrape it on the ground. There was a lot of pens. They had just like a box full of pens, of these pens.

The jumps have been pretty massive in the kinds of films you’ve been making.

You know there’s always that kid who skips a few years in school? Yeah, I was basically that kid in the industry.

Watch out for those ones.

Yeah. I’m basically, Young Sheldon in the cinematic universe. It was really cool. David Leitch, the director, he co-directed John Wick and he did the Atomic Blonde movie. He was a stuntman before he started getting into directing. There was so much explosion stuff and he’s a very physical director. He made it so much fun – shooting these fireballs out of your hands and doing all these fight scenes. So it was work but it was really fun at the same time. And then I’d have to do school work on set. So that just sort of peaked and went down from there when I’d do school.

Was there anyone from your educational experience that you drew upon for Eddie Marsan’s character, the asshole Headmaster?

No. Eddie, he was a great guy. He actually shaved his head for the role. That wasn’t a wig. He was that committed. And he did a really good job of freaking us all out. No, not anyone that I can think of because I don’t want my school getting on Newshub, again. I’m joking.

We haven’t really talked about Ryan Reynolds at all.

Do we need to?

Maybe a little bit.

OK, OK. If you want to.

Yeah. Just a tiny bit.

I didn’t really want to, but OK. He was amazing to work with. I remember the first time meeting him in LA. There was me and my Mum and my agent, Jude Lane. We were talking to David Leitch and he said, “Oh yeah, Ryan’s going to come.” I was like, “It can’t be Ryan Reynolds. He wouldn’t have the time for us.” He came out in a green Christmas sweater and some jeans. Why do I remember what he was wearing so vividly? Probably loafers if I could think about it. Came down, sat next to us and he told us this whole storyline. They gave us a bit of the script that we could learn overnight. And then we went back and we taped with them and ended up getting the part. He was amazing to work with and he’s so dedicated to this role and he’s so dedicated to making a great film for this loyal following that Deadpool has. So it was really cool to work with him.

Do you think there is more of a shared sense of humour with a Canadian, as opposed to American?

Oh yeah. Yeah, of course. If there was anywhere else I would move after New Zealand, it would probably be Fiji or something and then Canada.

This isn’t an interview for a Canadian publication.

Yeah. Do you want to come to New Zealand? I’m representing New Zealand tourism. But it was an amazing place to film. But, yeah, I reckon they do have similar sort of humour because Americans, they just don’t get our humour. Some of them do. And then you know how we like to take the piss out of ourselves? Yeah, it was funny, just Americans being like, “Oh.” “What? What the heck?”

“Don’t beat yourself up!”

Yeah. They’re like, “Don’t beat yourself up.” I was like, “It’s a joke. Okay. Watch 7 Days or something.” But, no, it was really cool being there and they got our jokes and stuff. And Ryan, yeah, he has the same sense of humour, like Taika does. They’re very similar.

What’s the single most fun opportunity that’s come out of getting to do this film?

Probably just doing press. I’m going to Sydney. Just meeting new people.

This moment right here?

Yeah. This right here, actually. I’m not doing that to make me get a good interview. I’m not doing that. But, yeah, just going around – we get to go to New York in a few days, and just traveling the world. I’m really lucky. As a 15-year-old kid I can’t say that I’ve traveled that much. It’s really fortunate. Yeah. It’s a dream.

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