Ryan Reynolds 'Seems Besotted with His New Baby,' Says Director

The new dad to daughter James also plays a father in Woman in Gold

Photo: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

In the new movie Woman in Gold, Ryan Reynolds plays a dedicated father – and those who worked with him are confident it’s a role he plays in real life as well.

“I can’t imagine a better dad than Ryan,” the film’s director, Simon Curtis, told PEOPLE Monday at the movie’s New York City premiere. Other stars from the film – including Katie Holmes, in a shimmering pink Zac Posen dress, and a glam Helen Mirren telling reporters (jokingly?) about loving to watch the U.K. TV series Dance Mums in her PJs – also made an appearance (Reynolds didn’t attend).

Said Curtis of the star and father of baby daughter James with wife Blake Lively, “He’s such a sweet, funny guy. He seems besotted with his new baby, and I think he’ll be a remarkable father.”

Randy Schoenberg, the real-life lawyer played by Reynolds, met the actor on set and also noted him cuddling up to little ones in the movie.

“I think he’s gonna be a great dad,” Schoenberg tells PEOPLE. “You could see him holding a baby, interacting with babies in the movie. And you could tell he was thinking about it.”

During filming, the couple hadn’t let on that Lively was expecting, but in hindsight, Schoenberg said he saw clues.

“That was before everybody knew Blake was pregnant,” he says. “Looking at him, you could see it in his eyes that, yeah, he must’ve known.”

Schoenberg also revealed a small hitch in casting Reynolds: the actor is just too “beautiful,” he says, which meant Reynolds’s look “had to be toned down.”

“That was one issue I had. I said, ‘You know, he has to be a little bit of an underdog, and the beautiful guy is never the underdog.’ ”

So the production worked to geek Reynolds up. “They put glasses on him,” Schoenberg said. “He slumped his shoulders a little bit, he had the glasses, and he’d be a little nerdy. He did a great job.”

The movie is based on the story of the one-time inexperienced lawyer who took on the case of family friend Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish woman trying to recover five stolen Gustav Klimt paintings including the golden Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. The pair fought the Austrian government for years and ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2006, they won, and that painting alone sold for a reported $135 million.

The film opens in select cities on April 1, and nationwide April 10.

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