Director Shawn Levy’s upcoming action-comedy Free Guy revolves around Ryan Reynolds’ bank teller Guy, an NPC in a raucous GTA-style, open-world shooter game called Free City who rebels against his programming. But while Guy is the heart of the movie and the focus of the story, Free Guy doesn’t take place wholly within the realm of a video game. The movie sees “real world” characters, such as Jodie Comer’s Millie Rusk, who wrote the code for Free City, enter the game as avatars.
The introverted Millie is out to determine who stole her code and, as her badass avatar Molotov Girl, she comes into contact with Guy. As Jodie Comer explained to IGN and other press visiting the Boston set back in June 2019: “What’s wonderful is Molotov meets Guy within the video world and he doesn’t realize that he is an algorithm. He thinks his life has this greater meaning, as we all do. And it’s about how these two people who are from completely separate worlds kind of help each other realize a lot of what is inside of them. And they help each other both get to the kind of destination it is that they need to be at.”
Comer believes that Millie’s avatar reveals “a resilience and a determination” within her and that while the video game world may be artificial, she discovers a very real relationship with her creation, Guy.
“The contrast is Molotov is very physically strong and there’s all of these very impressive things and it’s super cool, and Millie’s a little bit more introverted, so that is very different. But I think the resilience is there of Millie and her determination to kind of fight for what is hers. I feel like amongst all the kind of action of it all, there is a very human relationship there. The feelings that Guy and Molotov end up finding are all very real and kind of relate to a relationship in the real world.”
Initially, though, Millie/Molotov is “dismissive” of Guy, a background character in her coding she normally wouldn’t give a second thought to until she realizes something is amiss in her game. “It’s not until she senses some kind of abnormalities within the world and how people are reacting to things that she then engages with him,” Comer explained, “and that continues to grow throughout the movie.”
To prepare for her role, Comer’s homework included playing video games. She specifically played GTA on PS4 but found that whole experience “quite stressful. I find it quite amazing actually how, when I think of kids playing it, I’m like did they take it as literally as I am?”
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Comer opted to play Spider-Man instead since she found it more “carefree” than GTA. “I’m one of these people who just presses every single button in the hopes that I survive,” she admitted of her gaming skills.
As Millie, Comer shares scenes with actor-director Taika Waititi, who plays Antwan, the verbally abusive and greedy mogul behind video game company Soonami, maker of Free City. “He’s kind of my enemy within this. So, I did all in my power not to laugh at him because I was like, Millie would not. I was like I’m not going to give him this power.”
While she said she finds the idea of improvisation terrifying, Comer was awed by Waititi’s skills and said his brain “fascinates” her so much that she would come to set on days she wasn’t scheduled to work just to watch Waititi perform his scenes.
“He’s fantastic. He brings such an energy to the film, especially within the realms of the real world and the video game,” Comer said. “We have all this action and this color, and it’s still present within the day-to-day world, because of what Taika and Joe [Keery] and Utkarsh [Ambudkar] bring to their [Soonami employee] characters.”
Gamers can witness the action and color of Free Guy for themselves when it finally opens in theaters on August 13.