Speed star Keanu and his on-screen snogging partner Sandra Bullock talk to TV HITS about this year's most explosive movie!
Crash! Boom! Bang!
(snipped for Keanu content)
Move over Sly Stallone
Speed has just made Keanu Hollywood's hottest new action hero!
At the beginning of the month Keanu Reeves celebrated his birthday. So how old do you reckon he is? 23, possibly, or 26 at a push? Well, no - Hollywood's hottest new star is 30 years old! That's positively middle-aged! How can the excellent dude from Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey be almost half-way towards collecting his pension. But thankfully as his new movie, Speed, proves, Keanu's not ready for a walking frame yet!
Keanu's last movie was a deep and meaningful arty effort called Little Buddha, so it's a great relief that he's now back with a bang - literally.
Speed is such a mad action film that it's been called Die Hard On A Bus! Briefly the story concerns a runaway bus which has been primed to explode if its speed fails below 50mph! Enter cop, Jack Traven (played by Keanu), determined to save all the terrified passengers and steal the heart of plucky babe (Sandra Bullock) who takes control of the steering wheel when the real driver is wounded.
So what made Keanu choose to star in a big-budget action movie more suited to the likes of maybe Bruce Willis or Sly Stallone?
"I hadn't worked in about eight months," he reveals. "I was looking for work, so then this film came round and I liked the script and I loved he title - I mean, Speed! I liked the director and it seemed like a good deal so when all of these things came together I was glad to do it.
In the past Keanu has starred in every sort of movie imaginable, but with the massive success of Speed is it possible that Hollywood could try to turn him into some sort of Rambo figure? How does Keanu feel about being labelled the all-new action hero?
"I've no real ambition to be an action hero and repeat that kind of work. Acting in a film of this kind was great but I don't know whether it will happen again in the future."
Does this mean Keanu is already ruling out the possibility of Speed 2?
"Hopefully the film will do really well. And if it does, Fox (the film company) has an ambition to perhaps work with the characters again. I like my character, Jack Traven a lot and I enjoyed working with Sandra - we got along very well. It would really depend on where I am in life and what the script's like."
Without giving away too much of the plot for Speed, Keanu and co-star Sandra Bullock have several shall we say very close scenes together which reckons were a 'delight' to film!
"I guess the best one for me is the scene where Jack and Annie are sliding out from under the bus and they come to a rest," he says. "Sandra and I were improvising and trying to show how these two would relate to each other, and there was the moment when Annie says 'You're not going to say anything mushy, are you?' and he says, 'Yeah, maybe!' That was something that came out of us improvising together....!"
This is the second daredevil character Keanu's ever played - he's starred as a sky-diving, surfing FBI agent alongside Patrick Swayze's surfer in the thriller Point Break. So is he a bit of a (Reel 2 Reel) mad stuntman in real life?
"No, I think I'm only a closet thrill-seeker! Learning to sky-dive for Point Break was a big thrill for me. Falling out of a plane at 12,500 feet was great, but I don't do it anymore! I just enjoy riding my motorcycle - that's how I get around... but I'm a bad driver - I keep crashing!"
But he was pretty much a daredevil on the set of Speed - jumping from speeding vehicles isn't exactly an everyday event!
"I wasn't entirely fearless, though!" he says modestly. "It was just important for me to do as much as I could. When I was performing those stunts - like when I was jumping from the Jaguar to the bus - I had to be aware of all sorts of things like, if they weren't lined up properly, I shouldn't jump! But of course I was scared - I was standing on a car going at 45 miles an hour!"
According to Keanu, it was super-important that he attempted some of his own stunts, so he could understand his character Jack a little better. Or as he put it, "Just trying to have his kind of head." What on earth does that mean? "Well, the feelings of analysing action brought me closer to what the training of Jack would've been like," Keanu explains. "So when I was acting out the scenes of peril with the other people - while everyone else was freaking out - my Jack is just dealing with it all."
Speed is possible Keanu's biggest hit movie to date, and it comes 14 years after his first taste of acting in a Coke advert!"
"I don't know what was in my head when I told my mother I wanted to be an actor," Keanu laughs. "I was about 16 at the time. From then on I just started taking acting classes and doing drama lessons. I'm a high-school drop-out, but I went to a performing arts school. My mother's English, she's a clothing designer and my step-father's a director, so when I was younger I was surrounded by artists - musicians, performers, all sorts of exotic personalities," he smiles. "That really had quite an effect on me. I remember looking up at actors in the same way a little boy would look up at a fireman and think 'I want to do that when I grow up!'"
Keanu's movie career began back in 1986 with the eerily disturbing River's Edge and although most of his films do have fairly heavy themes (Dangerous Liaisons, My Own Private Idaho, Bram Stoker's Dracula), he seems doomed to be forever remembered for his portrayal of brain-dead dude Ted in the Bill And Ted adventures.
"They were just trying to be funny films, crazy and outrageous comedies," he remembers. "So you shouldn't go too deep into it. I guess, they're a product of our culture. Bill and Ted got a lot of grief from their parents who tell them, 'You're not going to succeed, give it up!' So they bounce back against that. Bill and Ted appeal to me on a lot of different levels," he laughs. "The child in me can enjoy watching it. But I also find that a lot of the words and what they do is very clever and really sussed. I think their philosophy is beautiful - 'Be excellent to each other and party on. Just have a good time.' I have good memories of all of my movies."