Hollywood Hall of Famers come in all manner of quirks and convictions. There’s the crème de la crème — actors with an eye for expertise. They dabble in a little of everything while they’re young and settle into a genre of their choice at an age where retirement often feels tempting. They aren’t as adventurous about their roles close to middle age in the hopes of developing an expertise. Tom Cruise once did everything from drama to fantasy, but is only into cookie-cutter action movies these days. Once a little more pliable, today’s Leo DiCaprio prefers playing larger-than-life characters with anger issues. At one time, Ryan Reynolds even flipped the stereotype on its head by crafting his own genre of fast-talking, charismatic douchebags early into his career, only to diversify later on.
And there’s people like Keanu Reeves — working actors that have fashioned enough of a legacy to qualify as Hollywood aristocracy, but are still joyously capricious enough at middle age to keep reinventing themselves at least once every decade. And so Reeves has. Every decade, we’ve experienced a markedly different actor; once solely an action star and a mixed martial artist, Reeves is now famous for his gritty revenge plots, comic book and video game adaptations, and the occasional cameo in a cartoon or romantic comedy — and he keeps mixing it up.
Reeves could have easily settled for his bolder new rep of playing only rated-R badasses, but he’s been in SpongeBob too, playing a glorified ball of tumbleweed, no less. Hollywood contemporary Ryan Reynolds is experiencing his own career renaissance both as an actor and a producer, and is hoping to cash in on some of that PG-13 cameo goodness by playing his own character in a SpongeBob flick. According to celebrity insider Daniel Richtman, Ryan Reynolds wants to cameo in SpongeBob, following in Keanu Reeves’s footsteps. If it wasn’t SpongeBob, the gag wouldn’t work, right?
Knowing Reynolds, he could just as easily put his own unique spin on a cigarette butt or something slightly risqué, like a talking tampon, and make it work. This is the man who made a live-action Pokémon movie with age-appropriate humor and loveable gravitas — imagine what Ryan Reynolds could do with a franchise about a personified sponge and his half-naked starfish friend. It was almost made for him.
Keanu Reeves was in two animated films this past decade: first as toy motorcycle stunt rider named Duke Caboom in the multi-awarded Toy Story 4 and as a prophetic piece of sage tumbleweed in the Old West in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, which came out alongside the third film in the Bill & Ted series, Bill & Ted Face the Music, last year. Reeves reprised the part of fan-favorite metalhead time-traveler Theodore “Ted” Logan. He will be returning to another of his major Hollywood roles next year to boot, as Neo in the fourth Matrix movie. Didn’t we just say he’s adaptable?
Comparatively, Ryan Reynolds has an equally exciting running filmography, a mix of action thrillers, fourth wall-bending comedies, big-name franchises, dramatic novelties, anime and video game adaptations, sports documentaries, and yes, cartoons and memorable cameos. He was in an animated movie last year too — The Croods: A New Age — and three more in the past decade. The first Croods movie, Dreamworks film Turbo about a snail trying to make it as a track-and-fielder, and of course Pikachu in Detective Pikachu, where he provided both the voice and motion capture visuals. But SpongeBob is a cultural icon. Every big-time celebrity with an eye for constantly reshuffling genres should feature in at least one movie whenever possible. Reynolds is currently filming and handling pre-production on a growing list of high-profile (sometime arthouse) projects. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard comes out on June 16, and Free Guy a month later on August 13.