Ryan Reynolds’ parents, Tammy and James Chester Reynolds, had four sons together before James’ death in 2015
Born to the couple on Oct. 23, 1976, in Vancouver, Canada, Ryan completed the family of five. “It’s intense when you’re the youngest of four boys,” Ryan previously told PEOPLE. “You sort of cultivate all these other aspects, survival aspects, that you wouldn’t normally cultivate, you know, being the oldest.”
Ryan also struggled to connect with his father, James, who died on Oct. 25, 2015. “My dad was a tough guy,” he shared with Mr. Porter in 2018. “He was good in many ways as well, but he was tough on us.”
For the actor, who dealt with anxiety as a child ("I've had anxiety my whole life really,” he told CBS Sunday Mornings in 2022), it was a tough environment. “Growing up in my house, it was never relaxing or easy and I know that, throughout my life, I’ve dealt with anxiety in different ways,” he told Mr. Porter.
Despite his struggles, Ryan maintains a close relationship with his family, including his mother Tammy, who supported him at his November 2022 awards ceremony for the American Cinematheque Award. “We’re never splitting,” Ryan jokingly tweeted about his relationship with his mom amid split rumors with Lively in 2018. “She’ll always be my mom. No matter how much jazz-cabbage she smokes with her rollerblading friends.”
Here’s everything to know about The Proposal star’s parents, Tammy and James Chester Reynolds.
Tammy and James shared four sons
Ryan was the last of four boys born to the Canadian couple, who also shared Patrick, Jeff and Terry Reynolds. “I wasn’t considered a younger brother, I was considered a moving target,” Ryan once told PEOPLE.
According to the Ghosted star, the Reynolds brood could be destructive. “My brothers and I … we would destroy the house,” he told EW Radio in 2016.
Ryan later cited their unruliness as his reasoning for wanting a house full of girls.. He shares daughters James, Ines, Betty and a baby, whose name has yet to be revealed, with Lively. “That’s part of the reason I don’t want boys, because I don’t want a wiffle house,” he explained. “I just want the house to be normal.”
Still, as Ryan told Mr. Porter in 2018, their shared experiences growing up brought them together. “My brothers and I are all very, very close and we all share a bit of that type of humor together,” he said.
He elaborated to David Letterman in 2022, saying, “Laughing can serve you in those dark moments and even help you crawl your way back out. There were times of real darkness. But I think I found those slivers of light, I think my brothers did too. I think we had each other."
The Reynolds’ humor also got them through James’ death in 2015. “In my dad's dying moments, we were making him laugh,” Ryan later shared with Men’s Health. “We were all in there together, me and my brothers, just joking with him.”
James was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1995
When Ryan was a teenager, James was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. “My father really hasn’t ever said he has Parkinson’s disease,” Ryan told TODAY while doing press for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, for which he serves on the board of directors, in 2014. “He comes from a pretty prideful generation, and he doesn’t really talk about it too much. He’s maybe said it once or twice out loud.”
Despite James’ lack of openness about his diagnosis, Ryan said that it brought his family closer. “It kind of galvanized everybody else, to sort of seek resources,” he told the outlet. “And for us, in a strange way, it’s really kind of brought us together.”
Ryan regularly trolls Tammy on social media
Ryan is known for trolling his wife on social media, but he’s also been known to roast his own mother. In 2017, the actor shared a photo of himself on Instagram with the Reynolds matriarch from the TIME 100 Gala red carpet, in which he Photoshopped copious tattoos across her face and neck. “My Mom had the best time in the #Deadpool tattoo booth at Brazil Comic Con,” Ryan joked.
He struck again in March 2023 while announcing the sale of his company, Mint Mobile, to T-Mobile for $1 billion. "We are so happy T-Mobile beat out an aggressive last-minute bid from my mom Tammy Reynolds as we believe the excellence of their 5G network will provide a better strategic fit than my mom's slightly-above-average mahjong skills," he teased.
James worked as a police officer
Prior to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, James had several careers, including one as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "I would probably have been one [a Mountie] too, if it wasn't for this job,” Ryan reportedly told The Times in 2010. “Being a Mountie is actually a dirtier, rougher and a much more difficult job than you'd think." According to the Vancouver Sun, two of Ryan’s three brothers also became cops.
As PEOPLE’s 2010 Sexiest Man Alive explained in his 2022 Welcome to Wrexham documentary, James changed careers later in life, however. "My dad started as a cop and then became a food broker, which sounds like a cover for a CIA agent or something but it's an actual job,” he said.
Ryan had a complex relationship with James
Ryan’s relationship with his dad was often fraught. He explained their dynamic to GQ in 2016, saying, “I had a rough ten-year patch with my father. So we were estranged.”
According to the Two Guys and a Pizza Place alum, he envisioned a father figure like Wilford Brimley, “who would put me on his lap and just dispense incredible life advice and guidance, and I would go out into the world and execute it beautifully,” he said. Instead, Ryan told the publication that his dad was “that stereotypical tough guy” who kept things inside. “The hardest part for me is that he was always kind of a mystery,” he said. “I just don't feel like I ever had a real conversation with him.”
Following his father’s death, Ryan expressed anger over the fact that he “ 'never got the chance to get to know him” while appearing as a guest on Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction in 2022.
He also discussed how their relationship affected him in the 2022 Wrexham documentary, saying, “The main place I got validation for my father was I was good at sports. … It carried on all through showbusiness, an unquenchable quest for validation.”
He added: "My father has been dead for years but that stuff doesn't really go away."
Blake Lively lovingly teases Tammy, too
Ryan’s not the only one who has fun teasing Tammy. While making a loving speech about her husband before he was presented with the American Cinematheque Award in 2022, Lively thanked her mother-in-law and his late father for conceiving her spouse on what she called a “magical night in 1976.”
"I'm looking at you, Tam-Tam. You little hussy," she joked.
Ryan named his daughter after his late father
Ryan revealed to Good Morning Britain in 2016 that he and Lively named their first-born daughter after the Deadpool star’s late father. “In the spectrum of weird celebrity baby names, I don’t really feel like we’re breaking new ground here,” he said, joking, “I didn’t call her Summer Squash Meadowlark.”
As the actor told Mr. Porter in 2018, James was also able to meet his namesake, who was born in December 2014, before his death. “He got to see her, which makes me happy,” Ryan told the publication. “It felt right.”
Ryan credited his spouse for helping him get to a better place with his father at the end of his life. “She has a gift for foresight,” he said.
Tammy costarred in a commercial with Ryan
For Mother’s Day 2022, Tammy starred alongside her youngest son in an ad for his gin company, Aviation Gin.
In the clip, Ryan can be seen attempting to make a cocktail called “Mothers Ruin Punch” as Tammy critiques his every move.
“As this chills for an hour, you’ll want to spend that time reflecting on everything your mom has done for you over the years,” he says, as she cuts about his lack of coasters. “Or just add champagne while it’s warm and drink the ever-loving s— out of it,” he then deadpans.
Tammy trash-talked Chris Hemsworth at her son’s request
Ryan also enlisted Tammy to trash-talk Chris Hemsworth during a fantasy football battle between the two men for charity.
“Chris Hemsworth is everyone’s least favorite Australian,” she read from a paper she said Ryan had prepared for her. “And as a reminder, Hugh Jackman still exists.” She added, “Chris is a no good asshat who looks like a bodybuilder f---- a platypus.”
Tammy, who jokingly confused Hemsworth for Chris Pine, closed by adding, "I loved you in Wonder Woman!”
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