The 2004 movie “Blade: Trinity” by David S. Goyer had all the ingredients for success. After the initial two films in 1998 and 2002, Wesley Snipes’ portrayal of Blade continued to be well-liked, and the cast grew to include rising comic Ryan Reynolds, Jessica Biel, indie darling Parker Posey, and WWE wrestler Triple H. The main character in the movie would go up against Count Dracula (Dominic Purcell). Patton Oswalt, Eric Bogosian, and Natasha Lyonne all had minor roles in “Trinity.” What could possibly go wrong with a hot IP, an incredible roster of talent, and a comical supervillain?
It ends up being quite a bit. On “Blade: Trinity,” Snipes frequently disagreed with a variety of people, which resulted in disputes, disputes, and even a lawsuit (Snipes sued the production for withholding pay). Snipes reportedly declined to film many of his “Trinity” parts, partly due to a wardrobe mishap, according to a story in /Film. According to Patton Oswalt, Snipes became enraged and accused Goyer of racism when he saw a young Black actor who was simply an extra wearing a t-shirt with the word “trash” printed on it. Additionally, according to Oswalt, Snipes avoided speaking with Goyer directly in favour of using notes and helpers.
The situation simply got worse from there. Reynolds, the new kid on the block, actively tried to persuade Snipes to go outside of character, which undoubtedly didn’t help.
Showbiz Cheatsheet reported that Snipes applied a methodical approach to his portrayal of Blade in “Trinity.” Blade is a stoic badass who is intense and cool, rarely speaks, and is capable of picking up a sword if night animals attack. In “Trinity,” Blade was joined by two extra vampire hunters, played by Reynolds and Biel, to form the superhero group The Nightstalkers (named after a Marvel comic in which Blade appeared as Dracula’s son and a former Ghost Rider).
In an interview with the AV Club, Oswalt recounted how Snipes introduced himself as Blade and made an effort to physically distance himself from his co-stars. This raised some conflict when Lyonne, who was portraying a blind character, suddenly grabbed Snipes by the face. Snipes wasn’t a fan of that. After that, according to Oswalt, Biel and Reynolds in particular moved to improv to make the filming more enjoyable and to subtly parody Snipes.
Reynolds had a lot of room to improvise because Snipes wasn’t always there on set and the supporting cast was allowed to be a little wild. Oswalt claims:
“A lot of the lines that Ryan Reynolds has were just a result of Wesley not being there. We would all just think of things for him to say and then cut to Wesley’s face not doing anything because that’s all we could get from him. It was kind of funny. We were like, ‘What are the worst jokes and puns that we can say to this guy?'”
900 variations of torture
Reynolds valued that freedom, and in a 2012 interview with IGN, he spoke about how “Trinity” helped him refine his acting abilities and how it was wonderful to crack jokes with the brilliant Parker Posey.
“It was free flowing. Man, you sit down with Parker Posey and I’m in heaven. I feel like I could have shot that for ten years. We just lit the script on fire at that point and we were like, ‘All right, let’s roll it and let’s do it.’ The DVD is going to be so f***ing unbelievable for that scene, because there are 900 variations of what went down in that torture scene … We don’t ever stop. David has to stop us or they run out of film, and that’s the only reason that “cut” was ever called in those scenes.”
Reynolds claims that he may not be a Method actor himself, but respects it: “The stories of stress on the set of “Trinity” were, in my words, “overblown.”
“It’s always overblown. My personality is the polar opposite of Wesley. I never met Wesley, I only met Blade, and he is a method actor. Say what you want about that style of acting, I have the utmost respect for whatever it takes to get through this process. We all say that these actors make so much money and they live such a life of leisure and privilege, but that is a vulnerable process, stepping onto the set everyday and performing in front of 110 judgmental souls. So whatever it takes for him or anyone else to get through that in a way that is artistically fulfilling to them, I have the utmost respect for.”
I will break you
Reynolds acknowledges that he kind of did when IGN questioned him about if he had made it his personal mission to “crack” Snipes.
“That being said, yes I did. You know what, what I found was, I just use every moment. There’s a moment in the movie where I look up at Jessica and I swear to God, I didn’t even know the cameras were rolling anymore and I say, ‘He hates me, doesn’t he?’ And she’s like, ‘Yeah.’ I’m just saying this about my relationship as Ryan Reynolds to this guy, and it works. The ad libs are just born of that. There’s another one where I do a dime store psychoanalysis of him where I say, ‘You ever thought about sitting down and talking with someone, getting in touch with your inner child, and also you might want to try blinking once in a while.’ He just looks at me like he’s gonna turn me into ass pulp.”
Reynolds, though, claimed that Snipes would never fall into the trap. Blade was a professional, and he never once smiled.
“I don’t know if I ever got him to laugh. The guy’s Blade. Hopefully on the inside, he’s laughing kind of on the inside, I don’t know? It was a challenging process. I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
Oswalt acknowledged that he was interested creating movies for two reasons: money and anecdotes, back at the AV Club. He either wants amazing or horrible experiences because the latter make for the better tales. While “Trinity” did not receive positive reviews from critics or fans (Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 25% approval rating), it did give rise to a number of fantastic stories. That much should be appreciated by the audience.