The Key to Keanu
by Steve Korte
He makes films fast (14 in six years). And he travels fast (130 miles an hour on his bike). He recently popped up in Paula Abdul's clip for Rush Rush and he has two movies coming out in the near future - Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey and a surfing flick called Point Break, which also stars Patrick Swayze. Steve Korte catches up with this 26-year-old whirlwind.
What was the best part about making Point Break?
I get to be called Johnny Utah. I love that.
How hard was the surfing?
It was really hard. If you were a little grunt and your dad put you in the water every day, you'd start to get into it. But starting to surf at 25 is a different thing. There wasn't much surfing where I grew up.
You grow up In Canada, right?
I was born in Beirut and I lived in Hawaii and New York. But I mostly grew up in Toronto. My dad is Hawaiian; that's where I got my name and my eyes.
Did you have a happy childhood?
It all started off really good when I was 13 or 14, but then I think I turned into a monster. I grew pimples, a bad attitude and I started to run around manically... y'know with girls. Lust... ha ha, it really got to me.
Were you a good student?
No, I was never a good student. I even flunked gym. I was good at hockey, though. My nickname in school was 'The Wall' (in honour of his abilities as a goalie). I went to the Performance Arts High School in Toronto. It was a fun year, but I got kicked out and I failed. I was rude and stuff - talking to much. Well, that taught me a lesson when they kicked me out!
Why did you leave Canada?
There was no world for me in Toronto as an actor. Because of my family, I had an opportunity for a green card (a work permit) if I went to LA It was pretty scary, but I had to go.
When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I guess I was about 15. I asked mum if it was OK if I became an actor and she said, 'Yeah, sure.' That's really how it started. I started doing a lot of local theatre stuff, and I was on this TV series called Hanging In. My big break was when I got a commercial.
And that was for Coca Cola, right?
Yeah. I was ideal for the Coke ad because I really love Coke. I always said I wanted to do a Coke commercial, a peanut butter commercial and a milk commercial, because they're my staple diet. It was a blast.
I heard you had trouble crying in one of your movies.
My first scene in Dangerous Liaisons is where Glenn Close looks up and I'm watching this opera and I'm crying. What a nightmare that was. It was like six hours of trying to cry. Stephen Frears (the director) came up to me and said, 'Can't you think of your mother being dead or something? You're a method actor. Isn't there something you can do?' I don't cry much in real life. But I kind of like to suffer. People don't respect artists who don't suffer.
Do you mind doing love scenes?
No. I mean, you may have to say to your partner, 'Excuse me if I get excited,' and 'I'm sorry if I don't,' you know? But love's an easy emotion, man. It's easy to love people.
What kind of movie would you like to do next?
You want to know my favourite role? Mercutio - you know, in Romeo And Juliet because he's so full of passion and wisdom and anger.
Tell me about your motorcycles.
I have a Moto Guzzi. I called it Guzzi Moto, like Quasimodo. It's a heavy bike. I used to like to ride through the woods at night with the lights off with maybe two other people at the back, and we'd tell each other what we saw. It was very cool. There's no driveways or stop signs. That's when I wear a helmet and go demon riding. I'm completely sedate otherwise - and completely culturally illiterate. But travelling makes you a civilized person.
Any motorcycle accidents yet?
I ran into a mountain. I found out I got the part in Dangerous Liaisons while I was in the hospital. I've got scars all over my body. My body's a wreck.
What's a perfect evening for you?
When I'm not working, I'm usually worrying about not working. But when I'm relaxing, I just like to hang out at home and maybe read or play some music. I mostly live in LA but I've got an apartment in New York too.
Do you like living In Los Angeles?
LA's a twisted place. It's a varied animal. I guess I like its free ways. Get it? Two words. Free ways. I don't know. Nothing's for free, huh?
Do you think you're good-looking?
I don't think I'm the most handsome guy in the world, but I know I'm not a dog.
Do you have a girlfriend now?
Oh, you want gossip. Yes I do. Madonna.
What's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey about?
In the sequel, Bill and Ted are pretty deadbeat. Their band isn't going anywhere, they're out of high school, they work in a place called Pretzels 'n' Cheese, the girls won't kiss them. Everything's not quite happening.
Is it like the first movie?
It's not as innocent and easy as the other one. It's more complicated, and it's got some trippy images in it. It's not violent, really - we're not swearing, and it's not that dark - but there's some weird stuff. We die.
How would you describe Bill and Ted?
They aren't gonna be lawyers or politicians. They can't regurgitate Newsweek. But look at the world they're in. Their parents are seeing everybody's mother. So they say, 'Let's play some music and do what we want!' They're cool guys. They're nice guys.
Do you think they're typical teenagers?
The biggest problems with teenagers today are drugs and emotions, because they're so casual about both of them. Everybody says drugs are a symptom of something else, but I don't know. Drugs are just drugs to the people who do them.