Ryan Reynolds Says His Anxiety Makes Him Feel Like a 'Different Person' From His Public Persona

The Deadpool star says that before going on TV he would be so nervous that he would think: "I'm gonna literally die here"

ryan reynolds
Ryan Reynolds. Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty

Ryan Reynolds seems like one of the most confident people in Hollywood. He's constantly ribbing on famous friends like Hugh Jackman, playing brash characters like Deadpool and married to another A-lister, Blake Lively. But that public persona is very different from the anxious person he is on the inside, Reynolds says.

The 45-year-old actor has dealt with intense anxiety since he was a child, Reynolds said on CBS Sunday Mornings.

"I've had anxiety my whole life really. And you know, I feel like I have two parts of my personality, that one takes over when that happens," Reynolds, who stars and produces in his upcoming Netflix film, The Adam Project, said Sunday.

The outgoing Reynolds that people see on screen is often a last-second shift from his true self, he said.

"When I would go out on, like, Letterman, back in the day, I was nervous. But I remember I'd be standing backstage before the curtain would open, and I would think to myself, 'I'm gonna die. I'm literally gonna die here. The curtain's gonna open and I'm just gonna be, I'm just gonna be a symphony of vomit,' just, like, something horrible's gonna happen!" he said.

"But as soon as that curtain opens — and this happens in my work a lot too — 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. And I leave that interview going, 'God, I'd love to be that guy!' "

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Reynolds first spoke openly about his anxiety in May, and has said that his family (he has three daughters, James, 6, Inez, 5, and Betty, 2 with Lively) have inspired him to take it public.

"Part of it is that 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," he said. "The home that I grew in, that wasn't modeled for me really. And that's not to say that my parents were neglectful, but they come from a different generation."

"Part of that is to destigmatize things and create a conversation around [mental health]," Reynolds continued. "I know that when I felt at the absolute bottom, it's usually been because I felt like I was alone in something I was feeling. So I think when people talk about it, I don't necessarily dwell on it or lament on it, but I think it's important to talk about it. And when you talk about it, it kind of sets other people free."

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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