Ryan Reynolds Helped Jimmy Kimmel Create '80s-Inspired Spots for ABC's Retro'' Sitcom Special

Viewers who watched Live in Front of a Studio Audience on Tuesday night were in for a treat, thanks to Ryan Reynolds, Jimmy Kimmel, and their respective production companies

Ryan Reynolds had a big part to play on Tuesday's Live in Front of a Studio Audience, even if you didn't see him.

The ABC special featured stars like Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union, and more recreating classic episodes of The Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes for a new generation. And to contribute to the throwback fun, the show's executive producer Jimmy Kimmel teamed with Reynolds — through Kimmelot and Maximum Effort, their respective production companies — to create a slew of '80s-inspired advertisement integrations to play during commercial breaks on the 90-minute telecast.

"I took a DNA test recently and it turns out 20% of my body is comprised of 1980s nostalgia," Reynolds, 45, told PEOPLE in an exclusive statement on Wednesday.

"In fact, I almost appeared as Max Headroom," he added, referencing the world's first computer-generated TV personality. "Seriously."

The six ads, which can be seen in the compilation video above, were made for Kraft Heinz brands (Kool-Aid, Heinz ketchup, Kraft Singles, and Oscar Mayer), Jack in the Box, and Reynolds' own Aviation Gin.

To add to the fun, beloved talent from '80s and '90s pop culture were brought on board, like Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Jennifer Beals (Flashdance), David Leisure (Empty Nest) and Bob Vila (This Old House). Original MTV VJs Nina Blackwood and Alan Hunter provided voice-overs, as did Reynolds himself and his sister-in-law, Teen Witch star Robyn Lively.

Ryan Reynolds Commercials
Maximum Effort

Each lovingly recreated the era in their own new and unexpected ways.

In one, Ribeiro recreated Brooke Shields' iconic Calvin Klein ad — this time asking, "Want to know what comes between me and my Oscar Mayer? Nothing." Another featured Vila fixing a damaged wall created by Kool-Aid Man, known for busting through structures when called to quench the thirst of teens.

The two clips for Aviation Gin spoof both the ""Do you know where your children are?" public service announcement and Ronald Reagan's 1984 "It's morning again in America" presidential campaign spot.

"We don't write ads at Maximum Effort. We write love letters. And we love the 1980s," Reynolds said to PEOPLE. "Despite all the ad skipping and ad hating, we believe advertising can still be special. And fun."

Ryan Reynolds Commercials
Maximum Effort

Reynolds also spoke to Business Insider about the ads, revealing that he's been speaking to Kimmel about creating period commercials since 2019's Live in Front of a Studio Audience (which included reenactments of All in the Family and The Jeffersons).

"I love everything about '80s advertising," Reynolds told the outlet. "When both Jimmy and I grew up, the ads were something you couldn't really skip, so they were something you actually talked about, for better or worse."

Kimmel, 54, said he was excited about partnering with Reynolds, who is known for his sense of humor.

"I wanted to work with somebody who really understands comedy, because a lot of these commercials are commercials first and funny second," Kimmel said. "I can only think of the Super Bowl and maybe the Oscars where people are looking for the commercials. So hopefully this will be something that we do every time. It's a lot of work but it just adds so much richness to the show."

And the two stars praised Maximum Effort president George Dewey and Kimmelot head of marketing and Wheelhouse Labs president Dan Sanborn, who both spearheaded the project.

"Really everybody was into it," Reynolds said. "Everybody felt like this was a really unique opportunity to do things in a slightly different way."

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Live in Front of a Studio Audience is now streaming on Hulu.

In addition to Kimmel, the special was also produced by Norman Lear, Brent Miller, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrell, Justin Theroux and Jim Burrows.

To go along with the throwback sponsored ads, ABC produced '80s-inspired promos for its current shows too, including Station 19.

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