How do you write a compelling profile of serially shirtless Green Lantern star Ryan Reynolds? If you're Entertainment Weekly, you let Reynolds write it himself. That what the magazine did for this week's issue, and the result is stunningly good, a deft, feather-light send-up of the actor's on-screen persona and fluffy celebrity journalism. And Ryan Reynolds wrote it. Some of our favorite lines:

  • "Lady Luck gave him a wink and he broke into the business by scoring a lead role in a sitcom titled Two Guys, A Girl And A Pizza Place. Although the series was canceled 10 years ago, Reynolds still holds out hope they’ll change the title to something less stupid."
  • "Clawing his way out of a typecasting hole, he managed to secure a wider variety of parts, including several independent films that were later enjoyed by an audience of hundreds."
  • "His pal and costar from The Proposal, Sandra Bullock, often refers to Reynolds as a possible contender to be ‘the Ryan Reynolds of his generation."
  • "But Reynolds is also careful not to get too self-righteous, and is not one of those finger-wagging celebrities telling you how to live your life. He prefers to put the word out quietly, through the exciting mediums of interpretive dance and Japanese hand fans."

As an actor, Reynolds is a taste we have not yet acquired--at his worst (like in Just Friends) he seems smarmy and unlikable. At his best (like in Smokin' Aces), he's merely inoffensive. But this is really funny stuff, particularly because it came out of nowhere.

At least we weren't the only ones to be floored by this. "Is Ryan Reynolds...funny?" gulped Rosie Gray at BlackBook. "He’s always been a debilitatingly non-descript celebrity, much like Bradley Cooper before it turned out he speaks French. If Reynolds is pulling a Cooper right now and growing a personality, more power to him." Deadline's Nikki Finke was equally amused, but far more dubious about the origins of the piece. "I'm not sure if this is a stroke of genius or a harbinger of the apocalypse. Aw, hell, who cares: at least it's funny." But she added, "I don't believe for a minute that EW top editor Jess Cagle wasn't ghostwriting."

Our take: even if Reynolds got an outside assist, the conceit--including the cover photo, in which Reynolds proudly displays a phony bicep tattoo of his own face--shows the kind of self-awareness we never before associated with him. And it comes just before his would-be superhero franchise opens. If the movie does flop, he and Cooper should consider a French-language buddy comedy about two guys who shock the world by have a sense of humor about themselves.