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Here's How Free Guy Pulled Off Those Surprising Cameos

Cameos are always a great time. Who doesn't love to see fan-favorite actors or characters pop up in their favorite shows, movies, and even video games? Sometimes they can even be an epic crossover event like in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" or sometimes they can be more of a reference, like the many iconic horror staples seen in "Cabin in the Woods."

Marvel is obviously no stranger to Easter eggs and cameos, especially with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are constant references to other characters and events and, let's not forget, the post-credit scenes teasing what's to come. Director Shawn Levy and producer/star Ryan Reynolds were able to experience the magic of cameos when making "Free Guy." 

The film centers on Guy (Reynolds) who realizes he is a non-playable character in a video game and breaks free of his programming. What audiences didn't know before going into the film was that there would be appearances by Hulk's fist, a lightsaber, Captain America's shield, and even Captain America himself, Chris Evans. Here's how the creators of "Free Guy" was able to make them all happen.

Levy and Reynolds wrote a letter asking for permission

You might be imagining that Levy and Reynolds had to fight tooth and nail to get permission for these cameos; maybe they had to make some crazy gesture so that the Disney overlords would allow them to make these references. However, it turns out, it was as simple as writing a letter. If that surprises you, you're not alone — so were Levy and Reynolds.

In an exclusive interview with Collider, Levy explained how it all went down. He mentioned that he knew that Disney had bought distributor 21st Century Fox and he and Ryan were curious to see if they could exploit this partnership. "Ryan and I were like, 'Well, how can we work this to our benefit?' And we're like, oh, what if we tried to put something from Marvel or Lucasfilm in the movie? So we wrote a letter to Bob Iger, Kevin Feige, and Kathleen Kennedy," the senior leadership of Disney, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm, respectively (though Iger has since stepped down as CEO of Disney).

The letter asked to use Captain America's shield, Hulk's fist, or a lightsaber. "To our astonishment," Levy said, "They came back and said yes. And we said 'Which one?' and they said all of them."

Reynolds called Chris Evans for his cameo

As for Chris Evans' cameo in the movie, once again, getting him to appear was easier than you'd think. Reynolds knew that Evans was in the area at the time of filming, so he called him up and asked if he would quickly lend his talents to the film. Levy told Collider, "Ryan's like, wait a second. Chris Evans is in Boston. He calls Chris and says, 'If we have a camera set up and waiting for you, can you come by for 10 minutes just to pay off a joke?'" So, they set up a camera at a restaurant and the cameo scene was filmed.

Levy also discussed in the interview what it was like to experience the fan reactions to the cameos. He described how he's made many movies at this point, but has never had an experience quite like when these cameos happened in theaters. He compared the feeling to how fans react to crazy events in Marvel movies which is a fitting comparison given the Marvel references in the film. "You know those reaction videos we've all watched a million times on Instagram, the 'Endgame' reaction videos, right? Where 'Avengers Assemble' was, I'd never had that experience where people are out of their seats, cheering," Levy said.