by Kingma Hoffman
Is the not-very-ugly-at-all star of Bram Stoker's Dracula misunderstood or just plain difficult? Smash Hits plonks Keanu Reeves down into the hot seat to find out!
Hiya, Keanu! Let's start by asking you what made you want to become an actor in the first place?
By watching lots of movies. My parents were real film fans and watched almost every movie which aired on TV. I can recall so many evenings sitting together with my parents... like magnetised in front of the TV, even though it was already time to send me to bed. When they did, I begged and cried until they'd surrender. I even fought for films I didn't really understand. I really don't know why they let me get away with so much, but in retrospect I'm really happy and thankful that they did. I know for sure that it encouraged my interest in acting so much that I never had a real choice to become an actor or not. There was never a chance to choose another job - it didn't even come into my mind. And by the way, I've never learnt to do anything else besides acting. So where is the choice? Hahahaha, maybe I'm just a little idiot. But even to be crazy is supporting this business. But, seriously, I've never put my mind to anything else. Besides, of course, some hobbies. I love sports and motors, you know, the usual men's stuff. But that's just by the way. So what else could I have done with my life? (Go on the dole, maybe! - Ed.)
So how did your parents react to your decision to become an actor?
They actually didn't expect anything else. So it wasn't a surprise for them. And they've never said anything negative so far, they've always supported me. I still remember how proud they were when visiting my first theatre play. Even though I had such a small part... you had to read the whole credits before finding my name on the list, but I have never seen them prouder. They even gave me a little advice and tried to help me with my stage fright. That was so great and really important to me, especially when you think about the fact that their experience in this business is just watching TV, hahahahaha.
Who were your favourite actors growing up?
I just loved Marilyn Monroe and, of course, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro and Robert Redford. But since then the list has grown! While working on Dangerous Liaisons I met Michelle Pfeiffer and Glenn Close, as an example. So it's not hard to imagine the number of people I admire right now...
What do you think about the movies you've worked on so far?
My Own Private Idaho has been the most difficult movie and the most demanding part I've ever played. But also the movie which gave me the most impressive experiences. It's the kind of movie I think I should do more often, and I also hope that there will be more producers who choose such kinds of scripts.
Why was that movie so difficult for you to make?
Because it was such a serious part. You needed all your concentration and I didn't stop being in character even it I had a five-minute break. There was fun on the set, but still there was a totally different atmosphere. I have no regrets despite the controversy that surrounded the role. I mean, on the whole subject of homosexuals - why do they have to be seen as a minority? And the same question you can ask for races, colours, religion and even IQ. I never can understand why we can't live jointly with everybody. I even think we should have more respect for someone who has to struggle to be accepted.
You have a reputation for avoiding interviews and then when you do them you're quite, um, brief. Why's that?
It's my love/hate for the whole Hollywood hubbub and fame stuff. At the time it seems that there's nobody in this world who can see I'm just a simple guy who is desperately trying just to do good acting, but still wants, to keep his privacy. It's not only about shopping in Beverly Hills or living in Bel Air (a posh suburb).
What do you think you would have done if you weren't an actor?
I have no idea. Acting was always my goal. I never could imagine anything else. To be honest I've never really given it much thought.
Are there any young actors around now whom you reckon will be around in 10 or 15 years?
Maybe. But how can I know or predict? And by the way it won't be that smart to answer those kind of questions. If I gave you a list now of names of who I think wouldn't survive Hollywood, just how do you think it'd be for me to show up on set again? So we'll just have to wait and see. Mmm, but it's interesting to think about.
Maybe yes, maybe no. The point with Julia is that all her parts have actually been quite similar so until now I haven't really been able to see how much talent and qualities she has. I recently heard that her popularity has decreased a lot, so we'll have to see if she'll ever get the chance to prove how really great she is.
Possible. She's actually much better than she's shown us until now. I'm quite sure that we'll still see her in good movies in about ten years. I think that Demi's done a real fantastic job with her parts so far though.
Absolutely. It he continues to choose these great projects like he has so far. (Such as? - Ed.) But why don't you mention Patrick Dempsey? He really impresses me a lot. He's one of my favourites for the future.
No comment, hahahaha. The only thing I'm going to say is that, in my eyes, he really is underestimated by the public. Sad, because one day he will be the biggest actor in Hollywood. Actually he's the most talented young actor there is right now in Hollywood. We knew each other already from working together on I Love You To Death. This made doing My Own Private Idaho a lot easier. We made a kind of blood brother pact. River is a real good friend. He's so uncomplicated. And we have many things in common. For example, our love of motorbikes. Every evening that we don't spend together we're on the phone. River doesn't really like LA. so he's planning to move to Montana. Then we won't be able to meet that often anymore. But luckily he's art actor, so to work he has to come here often so then we can do all the crazy things together.
And Keanu Reeves?
Hahahahaha, I don't really think that I belong to the group of the Robert De Niros. I mean I'm quite convinced that in 10 or 15 years you'll still hear from me, but I doubt I will reach the status of, say, a second Dustin Hoffman. Dustin's level is a little high. I guess I need 26 years or even more to come that far. I will never give up trying. But until now it's just a dream.
What kind of movies do you most like to work on?
I don't really mind. So long as I'm attracted by the. part and it makes the movie interesting. That's the nicest thing about acting - you always can climb into different types of personalities. To be serious in one kind of project and the next time to act in an action movie, that's just great. I'd like to do a movie where I'm in make-up for hours and no one can recognise me anymore. I guess at the moment I'm in a sort of a horror movie, but I'm not the monster.
Is this Bram Stoker's Dracula you're talking about?
Yeah! You know - blood, vampires and beautiful women, hahahaha.
So who's the "monster"?
Gary Oldman plays Dracula. I'm just a young British boy who for some reason gets involved in the horror. What he doesn't realise is that my bride looks just like Dracula's - that he lost a couple of hundred years back. Anyway he invites me to come to Transylvania just to become his prisoner so that he can go to London and seduce my girl (i.e. Winona Ryder).
So is your character innocent and naive then?
It's changed. In one scene I'm getting seduced by these vampire brides, really pretty, really horny and pretty lustful. Unfortunately they are carnivores! The three ladies put me under a sort of trance. It was a lot of fun to shoot - Francis Ford Coppola (i.e. the director) was spinning the camera while we were biting, twisting and screaming. It's like a dream, slow and quite vague, which turns into a nightmare when Dracula comes into the room. Dracula is like the Devil and I'm shocked. I guess that's the end of being naive, but I don't really like what I see when I open my eyes.
What makes this movie so special?
The cast is just amazing. Gary Oldman is so scary and Anthony Hopkins is just great. He did his Hannibal Lecter for Winona! It was so much fun. We all really enjoyed shooting the movie. Our characters were just soooooo alive. We all never wanted to scream at rehearsal, but it always happened. I guess we're all traumatised from earlier vampire movies. You just don't look at it in a neutral way. We came to the set wearing a cross or eating garlic. For some reason it's not just a story. - -Dracula is alive! I hope Dracula will have the same effect on the audience. On the one hand it was really fascinating, on the other hand just disgusting. I love this kind of controversy.