"Bill and Ted is a State of Mind"
Keanu Reeves must be one of the most overworked actors in Hollywood. He’s made three films in the past year, including this month’s newie Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. He’s also turned up in a Paula Abdul video, learnt to surf, and he still finds time to lark around in car parks.
"I had great fun making this movie," decides Keanu Reeves between glasses of mineral water, about his latest flick Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. "I really did have a great time." Keanu almost didn’t do the movie at all, though, because he wasn’t sure he wanted to do a sequel. "Well, it had to be a story worth telling, you know," he explains. "I really enjoy playing the part and I was really lucky to get an opportunity to play it, you know? Also, I love working with Alex - he’s just a brilliant guy."
So how did the whole thing come about then? "Well, we just had to come up with a story. About a year ago I was out in Massachussetts (sic) (big American state where Boston is) doing a play, and that was when it all started, because once we (i.e., the movie’s writers and producers) had a cool story put together, it was like, ‘All right, let’s make this movie, it’s worth it.’"
In fact, the most difficult part for Keanu was working with Alex, as it was such a longtime since they’d done the last movie! "It’s like when you haven’t seen your friend for a long time and you get to know each other again." So how did they cope? "Alex and I would get together and generally, after we’d eaten and had a couple of drinks, we’d go outside and start trying to get back into character. I remember twice we spent about three hours in the studio car park doing that. We also did the cartoon show for about one season (i.e. they did the voice-overs) which helped because it got us back into character a bit. Bill and Ted is a very specific mind-set to get into," he explains mysteriously, "and you can’t just jump into that - it’s a state of mind."
So is there a hidden message behind Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey? "No, I think it’s just trying to be a funny film, it doesn’t have any hidden deep meanings," he concludes. What, none at all? "Well, I guess it’s about learning, and you know, Bill and Ted get a lot of grief from their parents. I suppose it’s saying that if you’ve got an ambition, and that’s the way you want to live, then you should go for it, I guess. That is," he continues, "as long as you’re not hurting anybody."
Even though Keanu is a pretty huge star now, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is the movie which made him very famous. In fact, he still gets people coming up to him in the street expecting him to do Bill and Ted impersonations! "Yeah, people come up to me once in a while and they’re like, ‘Hey dude!’ They want me to say things like ‘Excellent!’" says Keanu, slipping into Bill and Ted mode all over again, "and I’m like, ‘Nope!’ Their faces just fall and I feel so bummed."
The other thing Keanu isn’t too happy about is the fact that loads of scenes were cut out of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. "Yeah, they cut a lot out. They just wanted to make sure it was very sweet, you know?" he says, yet again. "There were just concerns about the film - about perhaps making it more adult, you know? I think they’re a bit afraid of that." However, Bill and Ted’s evil robot twins from the future, played by Keanu and Alex, did manage to make it into the finished version. "It was weird playing them," Keanu reveals, "but fun."
He doesn’t seem too surprised by the success of the Bill and Ted movies, though. "I think Bill and Ted appeal on a lot of different levels, at least to me. The child in me can dig watching them, but I also find a lot of the stuff they do very clever, and I just dig the ‘Be Excellent to Each Other’ idea, you know? That’s beautiful," he sighs. Oh dear. . .
Of course, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey isn’t the only movie Keanu’s starred in lately. He was also spotted racing around on a surfboard with Patrick Swayze in the recently released Point Break. "That was fun. I did quite a lot of my own surfing in that movie," Keanu boasts proudly. "It was kind of a small summer wave-wise, but some of the waves you see me on - that’s me, yeah."
It won’t be long before Keanu pops up on screens yet again, but this time it’ll be in a completely different sort of film - My Own Private Idaho (opening here on March 27), in which he co-stars with River Phoenix. "I had the most amazing year," he enthuses. "I got to work on three really different films. My Own Private Idaho was pretty low budget, then I did Bill and Ted, which was just this crazy comedy - it was great. Then Point Break, which was a great action movie.
So what’s My Own Private Idaho all about then? "OK, well I play a character called Scott Favor, and River Phoenix plays Mike. He’s a street hustler and I’m the Mayor’s son from this place called The Hill. I just come down to the street and get involved with Mike. So it’s about me and Mike and street life a bit. It’s really about being alone, looking for family love," he explains.
Keanu’s not just a movie actor either - eagle-eyed Paula Abdul fans may also have spotted him drifting around in slow motion in the video for her single Rush Rush. "Hmm, let’s see - what can I say about that video?" ponders Keanu. "Interesting experience. I met Paula Abdul at a charity event, and she’s a very interesting lady. I think she dug my stuff, you know, so she approached me to do the video. I thought I might as well check it out." And would he do another video? "It would depend on the band - on what was going on and what I had to do." Fair enough. "I mean, when I saw snatches of the video, I just thought ‘Wow man, you’re not cool enough for that,’ so I guess I’m not going to be in any more videos."
Keanu’s life hasn’t always been this good, though. "I come from a broken home, but when I was 15 ½, I said to my mother that I wanted to be an actor. And from there I started taking acting lessons. I was in an acting class by the time I was 16," he recalls. So what does he have in mind for the future? "I think I’ll just stick to acting." (And that’s what he’s doing right now - filming Dracula right alongside Winona Ryder and Cary Elwes.) "I think I’m probably best at that, you know?" Er, yes, I think we do.