Rebel without a pause
by Dario Scardapane
Whether he's hurtling round the mountain passes of California on his motorbike or hanging out at a trendy Hollywood club, plunging into the Hawaiian surf or playing with his grunge band, or possibly even working on a new movie, Keanu Reeves is always on the go. So when this year's fourth Hottest Man agreed to meet TV HITS for lunch, we didn't have to think twice!
Keanu Reeves zooms into the car park of a trendy West Hollywood restaurant called Hugo's on his black Norton Commando 650 motorcycle, It's a classic bike which he obviously keeps in very good condition - in sharp contrast to the way he looks! Keanu's the same as always: half-loopy, half-intense. He's wearing a scruffy T-shirt under a thick leather jacket, jeans and high-top basketball boots. And, as always, it looks like it's been quite a few days since Keanu's last shower!
Although he's probably best known and loved as Ted from the goofy Bill & Ted films, Keanu actually has an impressive list of serious movie roles to his credit, including recent successes with Point Break and the controversial My Own Private Idaho. But most people reckon that his arrival into the big time really happened with the movie River's Edge. Does Keanu agree? "Yeah, I guess so" he nods. And how does it feel looking back on those older works now? "I don't do that at all," is his simple answer. Ever? "Oh yes, I think I'll watch Dangerous Liaisons and see how I look," he says in a posh voice, poking fun at the very thought of it. "I'm sure I'll check the stuff out one day."
Keanu's in a joking mood and his response to the next question - What would he be doing if he weren't an actor? - gets another humorous response. "Can I take your order please?" he laughs, adopting the voice of a waitress. Then, finally, he gets serious - sort of. "I don't know what I'd do. I'd like to think I'd be some kind of...I would like to...I don't know, man!" When I suggest that maybe the Keanu thing to do is drop out and surf, he seems unsure. "I don't know if I'd surf", he replies. "Surfing is the hardest thing you can do in the world! I mean, when you're a little runt and seven years old and your dad puts you in the water every day, you'd start to get into it. Coming in at 25, it's a different thing, But I dug it, man. I learned a lot of things from Point Break. You know, I got a lot of weapons training, really basic hand-to-hand stuff, And surfing. I got taught by Dennis Jarvis, who shaped a lot of the boards for the film. I went to Kaui (in Hawaii) - that was the first place I ever got on a surfboard. That's three-foot warrior style, which isn't that big, but it's gnarly if you've never been on a board before!
"I once went reef surfing in Bora Bora," Keanu continues, obviously excited by the topic of conversation, "big mistake." Suddenly he is distracted and his face lights up as he recognises someone in the restaurant. "Oooohh! That's the lady from... That's the lady from Ken Russell's film!" he exclaims. "Shit!" Indeed, it does look like Amanda Donohoe from The Lair Of The White Worm (better known as CJ on L.A. Law), "Yeah. she's so fine, man," he gasps in adoration "I love that movie! What a freakout movie that is." I then tell Keanu that I'm not so sure it really is her "No, she has the same mouth," he says, hopefully.
Anyway, enough of the stargazing, let's talk about bikes. After asking wrongly if he's a Honda man, I then ask if that's because he doesn't want to buy Japanese. "No,' he replies, like 'em all. I like anything - except a Honda Interceptor. That's a weak bike, a weak, weak bike, I had a Suzuki GSXR 750." And what's the biggest bike he's ever had? "I guess that's my Harley," he says proudly. "I bought it when I did Prince Of Pennsylvania - I bought it from a guy named Tiny. Heavy guy! He had some gnarly tales, We went on a (Hell's Angels) toy run ... I'd never been and there's like 500 bikes. This was just like a ten-mile jaunt, and then we went to this bar and got crazy!" Of course you can't be a real bikie without some heavy-duty crashes to your name, and Keanu's been there, done that! "Yeah, I had to go to hospital after I smashed once - broken ribs, internal bleeding ... it was in Topango Canyon. I'm just glad I hit the ground instead of going over the edge!"
At this very moment., who should stroll over to our table but Drew Barrymore! She tells Keanu that she's been looking for him, and after a few minutes of friendly chit-chat, Drew says her goodbyes and takes off, leaving us to our conversation.
When I mention that Keanu has had some juicy roles he agrees with a Ted-ism ("Most definitely!"), which leads me to ask him if returning to play a meathead like Ted was a good escape from the serious stuff. "Well, I knew the character a little better," he states, "so that whole aspect of research... you know, time had gone by since the first movie so you still have to figure it out. Like now they're 21 and they're out of school. Yeah, and they drink beer and they're deadbeats. My hair's in my eyes the whole movie, We just want to play music but we're still really bad.
"It's absurd," he continues. "I mean, Bill and Ted are clowns. And they're really good guys. I liked playing Ted - and it's fun working with Alex Winter."
When I suggest to Keanu that it's stupid to make comparisons between actors, he guesses what I'm about to say next and, mimicking me, says, "But I will!" So as not to disappoint him, I suggest that John Cusack, for instance, has progressed from teen films to adult roles, Is that how Keanu sees his own career going? "No," he replies. "In Idaho I'm 21, in Point Break I'm 25, and I'm 21 in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey." Asked what makes him plump for a specific role, he searches for an explanation. "Well, I haven't read a script for a long time, I've been working. I'm trying to stay focused. I don't really let a lot of things come in from the outside when I'm doing what I'm doing, Because its uhh... distracting."
Hey, enough of all this heavy acting stuff! After all, Keanu has just been voted No, 4 in the TV HITS Hottest Men On Earth poll, and recently in a major American magazine Madonna's Sandra Bernhard called him one of the sexiest guys in the world, too, Keanu, typically, is not at all embarrassed. "Aahh, bless her heart!' he chuckles. "No, that was good because she didn't diss anybody, I dig her."
Lucky old Sandra!