The Breeze is Up: 'Bill and Ted' Star Reeves has Two Films in Valley
(also published on July 19 in an edited version with the title 'No Bogus Trip, Keanu Reeves is One Cool Dude')
by PAUL WILLISTEIN, The Morning Call
Keanu Reeves is one cool breeze with a hot career.
The young actor says his first name (pronounced Key-ah-new) in Hawaiian means "cool breeze over the mountain."
Reeves, 26, has movies opening two weeks in a row. "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" opens tomorrow. "Point Break," with Patrick Swayze, which opened last week, is No. 4, grossing $8.5 million.
Reeves seems typecast as spaced-out Ted of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," which costars Alex Winter as Bill. Reeves speaks in the surfer dude slang that the hit movie of two years ago helped popularize among teens.
He sometimes repeats questions he's asked, and answers others elliptically, if at all. For example, to one question, he responds, "I mean, I don't know, man. Wow. I'm going to stop --What's the next question?"
Reeves has made a career of playing doltish characters, such as an accomplice in the black comedy, "I Love You To Death," based on the attempted murder case of Allentown pizza man Tony Toto.
"Yeah, man, I heard the real story was even worse than what was in the movie," Reeves marvels.
When asked to name his favorite movie from his career, he again refers to "I Love You To Death": "I guess Marlon in 'I Love You To Death,' which I don't think anybody saw. But I loved Marlon, the ultimate dropout."
Reeves, who is 6 feet tall and weighs 175 pounds, says his mother is English and his father is Chinese Hawaiian. Various reports -- Reeves has told conflicting stories about his background to the media -- have him growing up in New York and Toronto before moving to Los Angeles. He says he was born in Beirut, Lebanon. "My parents were cavorting and that was one of their stops," he explains.
Reeves says he's a high school dropout.
"I'm not really good with control assumed over me -- like in school when people tried to put power over me ... "
Reeves says he did some of his own stunts for "Point Break," in which he plays undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah. "Most of the falling part of the surfing I did. The sky diving -- not actually jumping out of the plane."
He's not really a daredevil. "You know, I have a motorcycle but, so, once in awhile I'll go on a demon run."
Reeves began his acting career in Toronto, spent a summer at the Hedgerow Theatre in Rose Valley, near Philadelphia; studied acting with Jaspar Deeter, a founding member of the Provincetown Players, and has performed such classic roles as Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet."
His portrayal of a troubled teen in "The River's Edge" (which co-starred Lehigh Valley native Dan Roebuck) gained critical acclaim and led to roles in "The Prince of Pennsylvania," "Parenthood,", "Dangerous Liaisons" and "Permanent Record." Upcoming: "My Private Idaho."
Released in 1989, "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" made a cultural icon of the time-traveling teen duo. It also made about $40 million on a $9 million budget, so a sequel was inevitable.
Along with the sequel has come a barrage of merchandising: "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" soundtrack on Interscope records (featuring Faith No More, Megadeth, Slaughter, Kiss and Primus); a national "Bill & Ted's Excellent Air Guitar Contest" on MTV; a "Bill & Ted Air Guitar" (a guitar case minus the guitar); a "Bill & Ted-speak" dictionary; Atari Lynx games; LJN/Acclaim Nintendo Gameboys, Kenner action figures and "Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal -- A Most Awesome Breakfast Adventure" from Ralston-Purina.
Asked to compare "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" to its sequel, Reeves notes, "The first one was a much more simple film. This one is a lot more ambitious and audacious in cinema and story.
"We go to heaven. We go to Hades. We grow up.
"It was tough to do (making the film) because we didn't have much time. We jammed."
Ultimately, Reeves is concerned about "going Hollywood."
"I want to work with passionate people ... I don't want to get too far from the street ... in the Hollywood commercial sense of what sells. I don't want that to happen."