TV and film actor Anthony Reynolds, who grew up in Cary and now lives in Wilmington, is happily typecast as a stone-faced military dude. His forte, as he describes it, is “cowboys, cops and killers.” After a small role as a helicopter pilot in Iron Man 3, he expands his superhero-movie résumé in director Josh Trank’s reboot of 20th Century Fox’s struggling Fantastic Four franchise, which opens nationwide today.

In the film, a quartet of gifted young people (including actors Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan) involved in a research program gain superpowers—and a whole lot of trouble from the government and arch-nemesis Dr. Doom—after they cross a dimensional border. Reynolds plays a military aide to Tim Blake Nelson’s character, the head of the experimental facility where the dimensions are breached. It’s a small but significant role with about 15 minutes of screen time and several lines.

We reached Reynolds by phone today to find out if fans are right to be worried about the direction of the movie, what it was like on set and whether Teller really is, as you might have read recently, a “dick.”

INDY: It’s opening day. How are you spending it?

ANTHONY REYNOLDS: It’s kind of crazy. I’m hanging with my kids today and then I’m off to Atlanta Sunday for another project meeting. But it’s good. I saw the movie last night and really enjoyed it. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but they never really are. You never know what’s going to happen after the editors and studio execs put their two cents in. But I enjoyed it. I really did. I’m thrilled that a good majority of my stuff made it into the movie.

How was it different than what you expected?

You know, when you’re working on a big franchise project like this, it’s very top secret. You’d think they’re curing Alzheimer’s or cancer. So I never saw the full script, which is not uncommon. I never saw the full script on Iron Man 3 or Hunger Games. Just based on my own deductive reasoning from the scenes I was in, I wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to end. I probably had some preconceived notions of the climax, and my notions were not correct. [Laughs]

But it was fun. It’s totally a popcorn kind of movie. It’s an origins movie. So there is lots of exposition on the characters, where they come from and how they come together. I found that very interesting. I think they explored some of that in the X-Men franchise. But this movie goes even younger, to where they’re kids. And I thought the kids in this movie were just dynamite.

Tell us about your role.

I play a government spook, a civilian military official. There are a lot of military consultant types in the movie, but I’m kind of the overseer with Tim Blake Nelson. He plays the government guy who takes charge of the program the four kids are part of. I look very fierce for a lot of the movie, and when I say something it’s usually important. It’s such heavy subject matter with all this science and interdimensional travel. The fun part for us, with Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, was the antics on set. We were often wiping our eyes as we were getting ready to roll.

So you got to interact with the young cast quite a bit?

Oh yeah, I had scenes with all of them. Miles and I went to the same conservatory in New York, so we knew some of the same people, and he and I got to hang out a couple times socially. All of those kids are really great people to work with. I have nothing negative to say about anybody I worked with.

You probably know there’s something of a meme going around right now about Miles Teller being, well, a jerk. But it doesn’t sound like that was your experience.

I know Miles’ parents and I’ve had lunch with them. He and I went out a couple of times while we were filming and I never saw that in him. He has a lovely girlfriend. He’s got a lot of buzz right now coming off of Whiplash, which he was phenomenal in. The machine of Hollywood, they like controversy if it will fill magazine covers. He’s a great kid and a great young actor who I think has a huge career ahead of him.

All four of these actors who played the heroes have their heads screwed on straight from what I can tell, and I’m 47. When I was their age, I’m not sure I would have been able to handle the pressures they’re under. I’m a character actor. I never set out to be a leading man type. I didn’t want that kind of career. I know people with those kind of careers and privacy goes out the window. Now you can’t go to the bathroom without TMZ following you.

So you got 10 or 15 minutes of screen time?

Yeah, I appear about an hour into the movie. That’s when the backstory comes to a realization. The whole setup is that these kids are part of a private institute for brilliant kids. But of course, once this interdimensional travel happens, the government and military want their cut, and that’s when the government spook-y guy shows up wanting to know what really happened. Then the story primarily goes back to the kids doing what they’re doing: saving the world.

How did you get the role?

I actually auditioned for a different role. I read for a military interrogator in late March or early April of last year. Toward the end of May, I was up for a couple of big projects out of state, and I called my agent on the Friday before Memorial Day, at about 10:30 in the morning. A week had passed and I hadn’t heard anything, and I wanted to know if I was going to be available for another project. My agent called me back an hour later and said they went with somebody else. I said, “OK, no worries, on to the next one.” Twenty-two years in the business, you know that’s what happens. You don’t get them all. You don’t get most of them, in fact.

Around 5:30 that same day, she calls me back and says, “Casting made a really big flub this morning. They knew the director didn’t want you for that part, but they didn’t know he wanted you for another part.” That first part I read for worked for four days. This one was eleven weeks of shooting, and she was like, “I need an answer right now.” It wasn’t even something to talk to my wife about—you just do these kinds of things when you get them. On Memorial Day, Monday, at 6 a.m., there was a Town Car in my driveway to take me to the airport to fly to Baton Rouge. I had a fitting for four or five Brooks Brothers suits and started filming on Tuesday. It was really fast, lickety-split.

You’ve been in a couple of superhero movies now; are you a comics fan?

No, I have a military and law enforcement background. I’m typecast: I play cowboys, cops and killers. That’s kind of my wheelhouse. I’ve got this stone face that lends itself to those badass kind of guys. That’s just the bucket they put me in. I guess I’d rather be in a bucket than not in a bucket. Even in comedies, there’s usually a cop; someone is getting in trouble. So there’s a kind of job security for me. I tell people if the uniform fits, I’ll wear it, and I’ve worn a few that didn’t fit too well. That’s the way it goes.