Times Ryan Reynolds Has Been Candid About His Mental Health Struggles

Ryan Reynolds grew up as the youngest of four brothers, with a father who adhered to rather traditional ideals of masculinity and fatherhood. Speaking to GQ, Ryan admitted that growing up, he wanted a father who would be a gentle, guiding hand that would nudge him in the right direction. But unfortunately James Reynolds didn't fit that image because, "From my earliest memory of him, my father was that stereotypical tough guy." 

The actor continued, "The hardest part for me is that he was always kind of a mystery. I just don't feel like I ever had a real conversation with him." Ryan added that he tried casually chatting with James several times, but it was always to no avail because he would only give short and blunt answers. In the Marvel star's documentary, "Welcome to Wrexham," which was titled after his Welsh soccer team, Ryan shared that he played a lot of sports growing up because it was one of the few ways in which he achieved his father's love and approval. 

According to Ryan, "It carried on all through show business, an unquenchable quest for validation. My father has been dead for years but that stuff doesn't really go away," (via the Daily Mail). Due to this complicated relationship, the actor developed some mental health issues and even cut off contact with James for a decade until his wife, Blake Lively, helped them to reconcile. Sadly, James passed away from Parkinson's disease in 2015, but as a silver lining, he got to meet his granddaughter, James, whom the couple named after him.

Ryan Reynolds has battled anxiety all his life

When Ryan Reynolds sat down with "CBS Sunday Morning," he got candid about his struggles with anxiety. The actor started by clarifying that he didn't grow up in an unsafe environment, but things were always tense because of his father's strict presence. The "Deadpool" star acknowledged that this childhood pressure of always being alert about his surroundings eventually manifested into anxiety, where he would constantly be thinking of things that could go wrong in any scenario. 

As someone working in entertainment, Reynolds was frequently in high-pressure situations. He explained, "I feel like I have two parts of my personality, that one takes over when that happens." Reynolds continued by sharing how he legitimately believed he would die or projectile vomit the second he would make it onto the stage. Luckily for him, the actor's real self could take a step back when the curtains finally lifted. 

Reynolds elaborated, "It's like this little guy takes over. And he's like, 'I got this. You're cool.' I feel, like, my heart rate drop, and my breathing calm, and I just sort of go out and I'm this different person." Sadly, the beloved comedic actor wishes he could always have this persona because he feels much more confident in it, but since he can't, Reynolds just has to find ways to help himself feel less anxious in an anxiety-inducing industry. 

The actor wants to be open about his struggles

In a Wall Street Journal Magazine interview, Ryan Reynolds detailed how he tried to cope with anxiety using various distractions: "I tend to pave over anxiety with work and, to a lesser extent, achievement. You want to tick boxes sometimes." However, this only fueled the vicious cycle as the actor took on more than he could handle. After realizing that, he changed his perspective and started undertaking projects to fulfill himself creatively, and not as a way to offset his anxiety or meet age-old standards that have been ingrained in him. 

As a father himself, Reynolds also understands the responsibility of creating a safe space for healthy discussions about mental health, telling ET, "I have three daughters at home and part of my job as a parent is to model behaviors and model what it's like to be sad and model what it's like to be anxious, or angry. That there's space for all these things." In his childhood home, there was no room for these supposedly negative feelings. Reynolds wanted that to change for his kids because he believes that treating these discussions as normal will help them learn that there's nothing to be ashamed of. 

The "Free Guy" star also pointed out that hearing others openly discussing their mental health struggles didn't sadden him but actually helped Reynolds to feel less alone. In the "Welcome To Wrexham" documentary, the Marvel star also confirmed that he uses humor to cope with the sadder parts of his childhood.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.