A one-day movie shoot at Royal Roads on Friday for the Deadpool sequel was a closely guarded secret — until star Ryan Reynolds turned up.
On Saturday, Reynolds, in character as the wisecracking Marvel Comics superhero, tweeted: “Dropped by the X-Mansion. Big f---ing surprise. No one’s home,” accompanied by a photo of himself in his Deadpool costume chilling out in front of Hatley Castle.
The photo also appeared on Reynolds’s Instagram account, along with the caption: “Dropped by X-Mansion. Looked closely for Beast’s lawn bombs before taking well-deserved nap.”
Although Reynolds was gone by then, his Saturday teaser attracted Deadpool fans to the castle, which appeared briefly in the original film and has stood in as Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in a number of X-Men films.
By Monday afternoon, Reynolds’ tweet had 69,000 retweets and 245,000 likes.
When Royal Roads student Emily Kraft, 22, saw film crews on campus Friday, she went up to the Grant Building, which overlooks Hatley Castle.
“We were in the windows and we had our phones out,” said Kraft, a fourth-year student pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in Justice Studies.
She was amused to overhear via a production assistant’s radio: “Keep an eye out. We have possible paparazzi in the windows.”
She said she was surprised students didn’t get an early warning about the “pretty cool” experience, as they did when noisy sequences for Disney’s Descendants 2 filmed there last summer.
Even Royal Roads University president Allan Cahoon got in on the action, mimicking Deadpool’s pose in a photo accompanying a tweet to Reynolds saying: “Pres Cahoon says drop by anytime.”
Katharine Harrold, the university’s vice-president for communications and advancement, said staff and faculty were impressed by the crew’s professionalism while trying to maintain a low profile.
“After two days of setup, the whole place buzzing with activity and the cameras rolling on Friday, you’d never even have known they were here by noon Saturday,” she said.
Harrold described Reynolds as “very gracious and kind” during his first visit to Royal Roads.
For the original film, a second-unit crew was dispatched to capture establishing shots.
Victoria film commissioner Kathleen Gilbert said that with a crew of 100, the economic impact of last week’s shoot was substantial, despite the brief stay.
“We love the TV movies, and they’re our bread and butter, but it’s really exciting when the big shows come over and spend all that money in such a short period of time,” she said.
Harrold said the mini-shoot was the icing on the cake at Royal Roads last week. “It was a big week, between the convocation, our new chancellor [Kathleen M. Birney] and Deadpool 2.”