[Editor’s note: This story contains major spoilers for “Ghosted.”]
Star power is hardly in short supply in Dexter Fletcher’s “Ghosted,” which reunites “Knives Out” co-stars Chris Evans and Ana de Armas as a pair of would-be lovers who meet cute, have a great date, and then are torn apart by the revelation that one of them (twist: it’s de Armas!) is an American spy who, understandably, doesn’t really have time for love.
But when Evans’ unlucky-in-love Cole decides to go after de Armas’ Sadie, believing she’s simply on a run-of-the-mill business trip and would welcome his grand romantic gesture. What follows is an action-adventure story with a dash of romance and plenty of big, things-go-boom set pieces, as the pair get pulled into a globe-trotting spy thriller.
But Evans and de Armas aren’t the only big names in the film — it also features everyone from Adrien Brody and Amy Sedaris to Tate Donovan and Tim Blake Nelson — and the feature is kitted out with a wide variety of very en vogue star cameos. You can probably guess at least two of them (cough, Marvel, cough), but there are a few surprises in store.
During a recent interview with IndieWire, Fletcher was all too happy to unpack the picking and planning behind those cameos, including one particularly close to his heart.
[One more warning: This story contains major spoilers for “Ghosted.”]
During the film’s first act, when Cole and Sadie are forced to go on the run, the pair run afoul of a lot of baddies, other spies, hired hitmen and straight-up assassins, all of them played by some familiar faces, including Evans’ own Marvel brethren, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. “There’s no hiding from the fact that there’s this Marvel connection to start with, certainly with Sebastian and Anthony,” Fletcher said.
But that doesn’t mean they were guaranteed gets. Fletcher noted that the script, from Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers, included big-swing suggestions for who might take on the roles for maximum cameo impact.
“There was, in the script, a sort of suggestion: ‘It should be someone like this,'” he said. “They weren’t saying, get that person, and it’s not those [same] people who we ended up with, but there was some really amazing suggestions in there that we did try. Some of them were people that I worked with many, many years ago and I made the calls [to them], but was really about who was available. It was really more about juggling the time.”
Evans personally called Mackie up for the gig. “We were talking about various names, and Chris was like, ‘I’m going to phone Mackie, I’m going to tell him, get yourself down here to do it!'” Fletcher recalled. “They thought it was so funny, and they’re funny together. And Mackie’s like, ‘We’re shooting this at night? If I’d known that, I would never have come!’ And they’re just laughing, but I’m genuinely shocked. And everyone’s like, ‘He’s fine, he’s joking. Don’t worry about it.'”
For the third baddie role during that first act sequence, Fletcher said, he simply went with his gut. He loves John Cho. Everyone else was excited about him. Why not just ask John Cho? Sometimes, it’s just that simple.
“It was like, ‘We love John Cho, do you think we could ask him?,’ and I said, ‘I don’t know him.’ ‘Well, we can ask.’ And he said yes! So that was good,” Fletcher said with a laugh.
Don’t threaten Ryan Reynolds with a cameo, the man loves them. Reynolds, who appears during the film’s final act as one of Sadie’s previous boyfriends (all of whom are in the spy game, most of whom have been injured on the job), was originally being eyed to take on one of the earlier cameo parts that went to Mackie and Stan. Scheduling got in the way of that happening, though Reynolds didn’t exactly get the message.
“Then Ryan was like, ‘Hey, where do I come to do my thing?'” Fletcher said. “We were like, ‘Well, we kind of did it.’ He goes, ‘No, I’m coming to do it!’ So we’re like, ‘We’ve got this one idea that Sadie has got ex-boyfriends dotted around, and they keep losing certain body parts.'”
Fletcher originally just wanted to give Reynolds’ character an eye patch, but when the actor came to set, he wanted to take the lost body part gag to crazier ends. He goes, ‘I’m going to do this whole thing, he’s lost his penis,'” Fletcher said. “And I was like, ‘OK, great!’ And so then he just improvised it. It’s very much in the moment. It was brilliant. There’s a lot more of it on the cutting room floor, it’s a whole film in its own right.” Sequel?
The final cameo? Fletcher himself, who appears in the trunk of Sadie’s car — a baddie, clearly! — during the film’s last sequence. How did that happen? Well, it doesn’t really need too much of an explanation, but Fletcher sure seems tickled that people noticed it was him in the boot. “Oh, you spotted that?” Fletcher said with a chuckle.
“Ghosted” is now streaming on Apple TV+.