Kool as Keanu
by Sam Clode
"I've never been there, but it sounds great," says Keanu Reeves down the line from L.A., when I tell him that I'm from Sydney. Blissfully wishing that this interview was in person and not just a phoner, it seems that Keanu is a lot funnier and dare I say it, more intelligent than his public persona allows. Quoting Shakespearean text and telling jokes, he is easy going and eager to please.
Usually tagged as being very uncomfortable in interviews, Keanu explained that it wasn't that he didn't like talking, it was more that he didn't like getting personal. "I don't like to talk to strangers much - I mean, I'm very happy to speak generally about my work, but outside that..." When I asked him about girls for instance, he hedged the question, explaining that "I'm comfortable with women, and I do like sex! But it's hard."
One thing Keanu was eager to discuss was the success of his latest film, Speed. "It's an action movie so it's fun. It's kinda heavy but at the same time it's different from other films like this - the character is more real, and you can see when he's hurt or in pain or vulnerable. I liked that." The other big role he has, is of course Prince Siddhartha in Little Buddha. "It was very intense. It's really what you want acting to be all about. I like to do things that I haven't done before." Made by Bernardo Bertolucci (known for his epic films like The Sheltering Sky), the film chronicles the life of a young man who becomes the spiritual leader Buddha, otherwise known as Prince Siddharta. It is a role that displays Keanu's desire to play a variety of roles, which he hopes will stretch his capabilities as an actor.
Diversity is definitely one of Keanu's strong points. Renowned for travelling the world for roles, he has filmed movies in places like India, England, Italy, Bhutan, various countries throughout Europe, and of course, America. He has appeared an countless magazine covers, television shows such as MTV and has performed Shakespeare on stage. He seems to be a very busy lad. So what does he get up to when he's not acting?
"I do as much as I possibly can, and nothing! I hang out with my friends, ride my motorcycle, and listen to music. I'll go see art - I'll do whatever. All that shit." I ask him about his band, Dog Star. "It's sort of a punk/grunge hybrid mixture," he explains. Keanu has always professed to being "the worst bass player in the world. I think we really suck, actually!" he laughs. It's rumoured that when the band performed in L.A., the audience actually upped and left! Gus Van Sant, director of My Own Private Idaho, says that Keanu is "way interested in being a rock star".
When he heard about the death of his best buddy, River Phoenix, Keanu says he just stayed in his house for a week. "I just miss him," is all he will say. It seems that Idaho is definitely one of his favourite films. "At first I was overwhelmed at what I had to do it was like 'Oh no! Can I do this?' I was introduced to so many elements through the guy I was playing. You could just go as far as you can go. I figured I only had so much time, I might as well throw myself into the fire."
With Speed breaking box-office records and upcoming projects like Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Johnny Mnemonic, and A Walk In The Clouds, we think Keanu's time won't be up for quite a while. Describing acting as "exhilarating", Keanu is only going to get bigger! Now if only I can arrange an interview in person...