Smash Hits (Aus), April 1, 1992
Keanu Reeves - One weird dude?!
Talented, good-looking... and really, really strange. That's the Keanu Reeves that Jeff Hayward discovered when Smash Hits sent him to chat to this "awesome" dude!
Keanu Reeves once said that he had nagging concern that at a crucial point on a big date it might be revealed that his underwear was not the cleanest. Now, he says, he's determined to "clean up" his image and is a lot more cautious about what he says. Understandably really, eh? Keanu (pronounced kee-ah-noo, for the uninitiated) might have toned down his obvious weirdness and flippant (sometimes bizarre) answers, but he's still something of an oddball in Hollywood. For a start, clothes don't figure very much in the Reeves list of priorities. He's been photographed in the same ripped T-shirt and jeans at several glitzy Hollywood premieres recently and turns up for his interview with Smash Hits in dirty jeans, a weathered suede jacket, tracksuit top and a paisley shirt that has seen better days. He looks like he's slept out overnight in the desert. He slouches down and makes an announcement.
"I'm not very good at talking about myself, man. I don't like it when I'm asked personal questions. And shit, who cares?"
This new Keanu Reeves is obviously not an easy man to interview. Really, he's a bit like a cross between Ted in the Bill And Ted movies he's starred in and a troubled kid like the one he played in the spooky cult flick, River's Edge. One minute he's talking earnestly about doing Shakespeare, then the next it's back to a jumble of street talk laced with words like "cool" and "weird dude".
Then there's the Keanu shuffle. The almost constant movement of arms, legs and shoulders. At 183cm and almost 80kg, it's hard not to notice all this twitching. But it's clear that Keanu doesn't really care what anyone else thinks about him.
"I'm only an actor, man. It's politicians and sportsmen who get being a role model thrust upon them."
His personality depends on the day, he says with a shrug.
"I don't really know what my raw essence is. I guess one thing is I'm not really good with authority. When people in school kept trying to tell me where I could go and what I could do, it infuriated me. I know that when I don't feel free and can't go where I want, I react. I just go against it"
It's the role of Ted which has etched itself into most people's minds when it comes to Keanu. Still, he's not keen on getting typecast. "People try to get me to act like Ted and I say "no". Then their faces kind of fall and I feel so bummed. Oh well, party on, be cool."
For Keanu, the problem seems to be that he still looks like a disturbed young chap, even though he's well into his twenties. "I'm 26 and it's a radical experience," he relates. I was going along great being 25 and then suddenly I passed it and started thinking, "Hey I'm gonna die one day." I started looking at my mother in a different way. What's important? Who am I? Why am I here? It was so weird, it was like I woke up one morning with a different mind set." He sighs heavily and continues slowly, I wish I still had the other one, man."
He won't be pressed on such matters as his love life ("I don't know man, next question") or his reasons for taking up acting ("coming from a broken home and all that stuff" is all he'll say on the topic). It's only on the subject of motorbikes that Keanu's hesitation about answering questions disappears. "I'm an awful rider. I've had a couple of falls," he drawls, sitting up noticeably straighter. "I once got broadsided by a car and ended up going from the middle of the intersection, did a somersault and landed on the sidewalk on my back. Two kids ran up to me and one of them yelled, "Wow man, you flew!"
And what of the prospect of him becoming a major celebrity?
"There was one day last week - I don't know," he trails off and looks at the floor, livened up only when he's told by his assistant that the interview's over. At these words Keanu is electrified - up and out of his chair.
His leaving is as unconventional as everything else about him - there's no polite handshake, no "Thanks for the interview". Nope, Keanu's not about to do the unexpected. Instead he's off and out there, slouching, rather than marching, to a different drummer. As Ted might say, "Weird dude, man!"