Typecast? Fine, says NC native who’s in ‘Fantastic Four’

Anthony Reynolds, second from left, plays an airplane military official in the new “Fantastic Four” movie.
Anthony Reynolds, second from left, plays an airplane military official in the new “Fantastic Four” movie. Twentieth Century Fox

Anthony Reynolds, a native of Cary and resident of Wilmington, has a look about him. And it’s that of a law enforcement officer. When he goes to the dry cleaner, everyone sits up a little straighter, as if they’re about to get busted for something.

Casting directors have taken note. Reynolds, 47, is often cast as an agent (Secret Service or FBI), military officer or investigator. He jokes: “I’m a sex crimes detective. That’s just my lot in life.”

He’s playing to type again in “Fantastic Four,” which opened nationwide last weekend. He’s “Military Officer #1” and plays Tim Blake Nelson’s right-hand man. (Reynolds describes Nelson, a Juilliard grad, as “a wonder to work with.”)

The veteran character actor is living his dream. As a child, he aspired to be ... not the leading man but the leading man’s wing man. “I remember watching a Charles Bronson movie on TV with my dad when I was in ninth grade,” he recalled. “I was able to name all the character actors. My dad said he wished I’d apply myself in school the way I did the movies.”

Reynolds told his dad he planned to go into the business. And his dad, an N.C. State Trooper, told him he’d have to move to New York or L.A. to pursue that dream. And that’s exactly what he did after earning his B.F.A. from East Carolina University.

Conventional wisdom holds that aspiring actors need to be in New York or L.A., but Reynolds has gotten more work in the time he’s been back in his home state than he ever did in Hollywood.

“L.A. is 200,000 actors,” he said. “I did 16 films in the years I was there – basically one project a year – but I hustled my butt off for those. I’ve been back in North Carolina for seven years and just got my 51st acting credit.”

The itinerant actor is used to traveling for roles. But he didn’t have far to go when North Carolina had a booming film industry – which we did until state lawmakers slashed the tax credit program in 2014.

“A lot of work in the state has just vanished,” he lamented. “And it’s affected a lot of families – (those of) electricians, grips, hair and makeup people, actors. People have had to pick up and move.

“But I have no desire to move to L.A., New York or Atlanta,” he said. His family, including his wife and kids – ages 10, 8 and 5 – are settled in Wilmington. “I want the North Carolina lifestyle.”

“Have work, will travel” may as well be the working actor’s motto. Reynolds spent 12 weeks in Baton Rouge, La., filming “Fantastic Four,” a Marvel Comics movie with an A-list cast. “Miles Teller is one of the nicest guys,” Reynolds reported. “And so is Michael B. (Jordan). They cracked up on set a lot.”

And the cast and crew needed “moments of levity,” Reynolds said while shooting a movie about saving the world from destruction. “Those young guys really delivered,” he said of Teller and Jordan. “They were total pros.”

Reynolds is a pro, too. Although he studied graphic design at ECU (“My parents weren’t keen on theater”), he later trained at the revered Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. But he’s also done that other job struggling actors have done throughout time: He waited tables. Another future actor, Zach Galifianakis, worked with him at Two Guys, in Raleigh.

In addition to “Fantastic Four,” the busy actor has a few more recently completed projects – “Cell,” a movie due out in early 2016 starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, and “Mercy Street,” an upcoming PBS special. In “Mercy Street,” he plays an officer, but in “Cell,” he gets to play crazy rather than the straight arrow.

Not that he minds being typecast: “I’d rather be put into a bucket than not put in a bucket at all. I’ll play cops until my toes turn up.”

Fantastic Four (plus one)

Anthony Reynolds plays a military officer in the sci-fi adventure “Fantastic Four,” which opened last weekend. The Cary native, who’s been in “The Hunger Games” and “Iron Man 3,” doesn’t mind being typecast. In fact, his website pays homage to his particular niche. Follow him at www.cowboyscopsandkillers.com.

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