Ryan Reynolds was safe in a recording booth as he narrated the new IMAX nature documentary Great Bear Rainforest, featuring the all-white, rare spirit bear Mox.
But Vancouver-born Reynolds, 42, has experienced the wonder of bears firsthand in the wild, even a little too close.
Reynolds talked about his most memorable, terrifying nighttime encounter in Canada’s Garibaldi Provincial Park as a high school student. A snoozing Reynolds and his tentmate were awoken by the horrific sound of a bear scratching its back on the side of their tent.
“We naturally flipped out,” says Reynolds. “I don’t think they make diapers secure enough for teenage boys at that age when something like that happens. My eyes were the size of dinner plates.”
Reynolds pulled out a jackknife, but not to fight the bear.
“It was just so I could cut a hole in the tent so we could go out the other side if we needed to,” he says. But instead, the two made noise to scare off the bear. It came naturally.
“Yeah, we screamed bloody murder,” said Reynolds. “The bear took off pretty quickly once we screamed.”
The next day, the group’s leader, an experienced bear tracker, checked out the tracks. While the creature made plenty of ominous sounds, it appeared to be a cub, judging by the size and weight of its prints.
“It was baby bear scratching its back on the tent, and being a rascal,” says Reynolds. “I’m sure this cub meant no harm and was probably checking us out. But it’s still a sign to get the hell out of there. Because mama is going to be close by.”
Reynolds has since had much more satisfying bear encounters visiting Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
“You could see 10 different black bears in a day,” he says. “But you don’t want to get close and interfere with their daily life… in the same way you don’t want them to interfere with your life.”
Great Bear Rainforest gets close for you: Director Ian McAllister and his team spent three years of filming up close and personal with the bears – including grizzlies, black bear and the rare white spirit bear – in the pristine setting.
“To see the area through that giant IMAX lens is a true privilege,” says Reynolds.