Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney Will Do ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ ‘As Long as We Possibly Can’

If you follow the traditional rules of storytelling, you could be forgiven for thinking that “Welcome to Wrexham” may be coming to an end. After Season 1 of the FX docuseries introduced the Wrexham A.F.C. as underdogs that desperately needed a promotion in order to survive, Season 2 ended with the Welsh soccer team getting that league promotion in a nail-biting match against Boreham Wood. That season won five Emmys, including Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program. If this were a movie, ending on top would make sense.

But the team’s owners, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, don’t see it that way. The two actors exec-produce the show and are eager to follow the oldest football club in Wales as long as FX will allow them to do so.

“Our goal, ultimately, is to document the rise of the club and the town for as long as we possibly can because it is just a wellspring of story,” McElhenney said in a joint interview with Reynolds. “When I hear people say, ‘Well, eventually you’re going to run out of stories,’ I’m like, ‘Really? Because we haven’t for thousands of years.’”

Reynolds agreed, noting that from the duo’s first visit to the town with a population of 45,000, interesting stories were just “falling off the tree.” One example involved the town vicar, who the two Americans met at what the “Deadpool” star describes as an “incredible,” “ancient” church. After chatting with them, the vicar excused himself and said he had to perform an exorcism.

“That didn’t even make it into the show,” McElhenney said. “So Season 5,
we might just do a whole season on exorcisms. I don’t know.”

“Welcome to Wrexham” ostensibly started as a reality series about two clueless Hollywood stars buying a struggling football club. But since its premiere in 2022, the FX original has become much more than that. From episode to episode, the series shifts in tone. One moment it could focus on McElhenney using the club as a way to prank Reynolds, casting the co-owner as a petulant child. The next, it’s a cutesy infomercial about the history of Wales or how the football league system works. We might even get a deeply empathetic exploration into what the club means to a fan with autism.

Part of the reason the series has been able to balance these disparate tones while coming from the very people who own the club has to do with its honesty. “Welcome to Wrexham” isn’t afraid to tell its story “warts and all,” according to Reynolds, even if that means showing McElhenney in the middle of an ugly argument or interviewing fans who are distrustful of these new Hollywood owners.

Welcome to Wrexham
Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in “Welcome to Wrexham” (FX)

Reynolds said that it’s “more interesting” to look at their football club without rose-colored glasses.

“The town of Wrexham has inspired so many people globally because (a version of) that town exists all over the world with people who feel like they’ve been left out or nothing good will ever happen to them or that prosperity is never going
to find them in the system,” Reynolds said.

“I’m used to looking at myself in editing rooms for ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ for 20 years and choosing comedy over vanity or choosing storytelling over vanity,” McElhenney said. Though “Welcome to Wrexham” is “a bit more difficult because now I’m not playing a character,” his dedication to what’s important has remained. He admitted there were some scenes that he “was not necessarily ashamed” of, but that showed him in a way “I wouldn’t want to present myself to the world.

“I knew that they would have to go in because it’s compelling,” he said. “Sometimes it’s funny, but ultimately, it’s honest. And so those moments stay in the show.”

“Just to piggyback on that, talent can create something incredible,” Reynolds added. “You can even make something incredible through ego. But vanity will f—ing destroy you every time, particularly when crafting a movie, show or anything that is trying to connect with people. You cannot connect with people through the prism of vanity.”

This story first appeared in the Limited Series/Movies issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine. Read more from the issue here.

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Hoa Xuande photographed by Elizabeth Weinberg for TheWrap

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