Ryan Reynolds may be the picture of confidence onscreen, but once the camera turns off the actor says he’s often a nervous wreck.
The actor, 41, opens up about his longtime battle with anxiety in a new interview with The New York Times.
“I have anxiety. I’ve always had anxiety,” he says. “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.”
During the early days of his career, Reynolds says he would often stay awake at night paralyzed by fear about his future.
Calling his early 20s a “real unhinged phase,” the actor admits he self-medicated to ease his anxiety.
“I was partying and just trying to make myself vanish in some way,” he says.
As his career began to take off, Reynolds toned down the partying but he says the anxiety never went away. To this day, he still gets wracked by dread and nausea before interviews and talk show appearances.
The actor is busy promoting the sequel to his highly successful 2016 film Deadpool. And with the upcoming film already breaking ticket presale records, the sequel is expected to be another hit — something that makes Reynolds a bit nervous.
“When there’s built-in expectation,” he says, “your brain always processes that as danger.”
So how does he cope with his anxiety? Reynolds, who is known for his quick wit, says he uses humor as a defense and coping mechanism.
“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 explains. “That’s that great self-defense mechanism. I figure if you’re going to jump off a cliff, you might as well fly.”
Reynolds previously opened up about his battle with anxiety, revealing he had a mental breakdown after wrapping Deadpool.
“I went to go see a doctor because I felt like I was suffering from a neurological problem or something,” Reynolds told GQ. “And every doctor I saw said, ‘You have anxiety.’ ”
Deadpool 2 hits theaters May 18.