"I DON'T WANT TO BE SUPER FAMOUS!"
So says Hollywood's hottest acting-type dude, Keanu Reeves. But it's too late, he's already a star! And Roald Rynning caught up with him during the filming of his latest movie, Dracula.
Keanu Reeves is looking a bit of a mess when he turns up to meet TV Hits. He's wearing the now regulation hiking boots, lived-in jeans, and brown suede jacket decorated with white stains! To top it all off, he looks like he hasn't used a comb or razor for days! Still the loveable goofball looks and sounds exactly as you'd expect. His conversation is peppered with those now immortal Keanu words, 'wow', 'dude', and 'man'. And the eyes are just as intense and striking as they are on screen. In fact, he's a dead ringer for Ted Logan from the Bill & Ted films.
"I'm a bit like the guy in Point Break as well," insists Keanu, who had to learn to surf, skydive, fight and handle guns for that part, "Like him I like to feel free. To surf and skydive was my kinda thing, I enjoyed it immensely, but I prefer my red and black '74 850 Norton Commando motorcycle."
Mind you, rumour has it that Keanu's not exactly the most careful rider around. He even has the scars to prove it - a long gash from his chest to his belly button and a whole chunk of flesh missing from his calf! "I'm an awful driver," he admits. "I've messed myself up bad. The worst one, I got hit by a car in this bad section town and ended up landing on the sidewalk on my back. I did a layout somersault, man! These two kids ran up to me when the ambulance men were looking my leg and went, 'Wow man! You really flew'."
Keanu took on the controversial role as a male prostitute in the just-released My Own Private Idaho because "it was an amazing script, man! There's cows, bang, bang, bang, porno shops, salmon swimming, sex, money changing. And there is Shakespeare. Wow!"
Sounds, erm, interesting. But it must have been more fun playing the excellent Theodore Logan. "Yeah, 'cause I love playing him," Keanu raves. "I know him real well. He's extremely innocent, a total clown and a really good guy. Goofy but cool. But I don't want to be stuck in a Hollywood kind of produce machine where they put films together only to make money. I want to work with a script that has something to say."
Keanu describes himself as "a pretty goofy dude", too. And what about Alex Winter? "So is Alex. We're real good friends, man Wow, we hang out together a whole lot. Why? 'Cause he is the funniest dude on the planet."
It's hard to believe but recently Keanu Reeves settled down a bit. Or at least that what he reckons. He's bought himself a house in the Hollywood Hills, which is conveniently located at the end of the road so he can make as much noise as he likes!
"You see, I play bass in this group," he says by way of explanation. "No, I won't tell you the name. But the style's a Joy-Division-Zappa-progressive blues jam (What is he going on about?! - Ed.)
Indeed, this dude has definitely got strange taste in music and his record collection's hardly what you call a cross section.
"Thrashing rock's, what I've got," grins Keanu, "Second generation punk music like Wire, Sham 69 and Discharge."
Besides biking and music, what else does he do in his spare time? "I do nothing. I'm like the walking dead, man," he jokes. "Okay, I read scripts and practice the fine art of hanging out. I'm a real homebody, I don't get invited out too much. I'm always filming and have no life. But I enjoy playing chess and pool."
Although he seems like a typical Californian surfer dude, Keanu has lived all over the world. Born in Lebanon, he lived in Australia, New York and Toronto before eventually settling in Los Angeles.
"I moved around a lot for a lot of economic reasons. I changed high school, I wasn't very good at it, remembers Keanu, who used to play hockey and basketball and was "kinda shy" as a kid. "I had an absent father and a strong-willed mother, and two beautiful sisters. When I was young I went to Hawaii to visit my dad. Then at fifteen there was this falling out with my family and I haven't seen him since.
That same year Keanu started acting.
"I had four earlier ambitions - a race car driver, an inventor, a nuclear physicist, the conductor of an orchestra, But with my stepfather I saw a lot of plays and movies, and theatre became my first love. There you're really performing, You're a real actor, not some meat puppet."
When Keanu discusses acting be gets uncharacteristically serious. For a year he studied acting at Toronto's High School for the Performing Arts, then he was thrown out! "I failed. Not enough concentration, always questioning authority. So I worked in a pasta place for a while, sharpened skates at an ice-rink and studied theatre."
Soon he got acting jobs in TV, theatre and commercials. "Then Hollywood came to Toronto to film Youngblood, the ice hockey movie with Rob Lowe, and I did a cameo as the goalkeeper."
When Keanu was 20 he drove to Hollywood. Life there was very different from life in Canada. "In Toronto I had three auditions every month. In Hollywood there were three a day. I soon got used to rejections. I missed out on Platoon and I'd like to have done that film."
First noticed in the 1986 cult film River's Edge, Keanu's big break came with Dangerous Liaisons. He starred alongside Michelle Pfeiffer and went to London to research the part. "Man, I really liked to hang out in London. I ate Indian food and bought books. Nobody knew me. I went back there to research Dracula, the film I'm shooting now, and I still could go unnoticed."
Being a star is something Keanu's not too excited about. "I don't want to be super famous, man! That would be awful, man! 'Cause I don't value parties and awards and stuff like that. All I want is to act, 'cause it makes me happy. And to ride my bike real fast."
After director Francis Ford Coppola's new version of Dracula is realised, he might have problems hanging out unrecognised in London - or any other place, for that matter. In it, Keanu costars with Winona Ryder, Cary Elwes, Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins.
"It's a sort of spiced-up, sexy and erotic movie. It has big costumes and sets, sort of spectacular. It's not a remake of the old Dracula films, Coppola has based it more on the original novel and added a few twists and turns.
And now, to the most important question of them all: Does Keanu Reeves have a girlfriend? "Oh, you want gossip," he says, pondering. "Yes," he deadpans, "Madonna."