NEW YORK (AP) — If Ryan Reynolds hadn't gone backpacking in Europe in the late 1990s, he might have never ended up co-starring with Helen Mirren in the film "Woman in Gold."
The 38-year-old actor says he visited Vienna's Belvedere Palace and viewed Gustav Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I"— and even picked up a refrigerator magnet with an image of the painting on it as a souvenir.
The painting sparked an intense restitution battle between the Austrian government and a niece of Bloch-Bauer who contended the painting and four others were illegally seized by the Nazis during World War II. When producer Harvey Weinstein called to ask Reynolds to appear in the movie about the legal wrangling, he says it sparked something.
"It resonated with me in that regard that I'd actually seen it in this incredibly historic setting of the Belvedere at some point before it was justly returned," Reynolds said in a recent interview.
Reynolds plays Randol Schoenberg , the young attorney who helped Bloch-Bauer's niece, Maria Altmann , played by Mirren in the film.
The movie, which opens in theaters April 1, also stars Katie Holmes , Elizabeth McGovern and Charles Dance .
"The story is just so powerful and so moving and there's a history lesson in there and there's a lot of information in there that I don't think a lot of people know, not just about art restitution but about the Holocaust and about how it affected generations past and how it affects generations now as well," Reynolds said. "A lot of what's happening in this movie is very relevant."