Cosmo talks to
From archetypal airhead to action hero du jour, with a smattering of Shakespeare and arthouse in between, the totally gorgeous Keanu Reeves is living proof that a goofy public image is no impediment to a brilliant movie career.
by Garth Pearce
Q: How much of a real action hero would you say you are?
A: I'm nothing like Bruce Willis, Stallone or Schwarzenegger. I don't want to be seen as someone who's always doing workouts, needing to be super fit and strong to go to work. For Speed, I did about eight lessons, three-and-a-half hours each, of gymnastics and trampoline work. The only difference in my physical shape that I've noticed is that I can now put my socks on without hopping around the bedroom.
Q: What is the most dangerous thing you've done?
A: Riding a motorbike. I ride too fast and I've had at least two crashes. In fact, I don't even have a licence at the moment. I got stopped for speeding - the last time being 70 miles an hour in a 30-mile-an-hour zone. It wasn't the speed that got me banned but the number of times I was caught. I must be dumb. I'm now banned until 1996. There is also the danger of living in Los Angeles. If you're not careful, you can get caught up in things...
Q: Haven't you always been a clean-living kind of guy?
A: Man, I wish... I have experimented with drugs and drink and done most things you can think of. As a lifestyle, though, it's not my nature to get hooked. People can suck you up and lead you astray. Once your defences go down you can get into trouble.
Q: Do you think that may have been what happened to your friend River Phoenix, who died in October last year?
A: River felt differently about things than I do. He allowed the suffering in the world to get to him and he wanted everyone to be as free and happy as he was. I was devastated by his death, but I didn't for one moment think, thank God, I stayed clean. I live a real low-key life at the moment and I like to deal with pressures in other ways.
Q: Who is it that you confide in and tell secrets to?
A: A man named Josh Richmond. He's an actor, writer and director who I appeared with in River's Edge. I don't talk to him about whether I should take this role or that. It's more on the larger questions of life.
Q: Isn't there a woman in your life - someone who's got close?
A: Sure, a little bit. For a time. But I've been nowhere near falling head over heels in love. Jumping out of a car has nothing on falling in love. I'm trying to connect to my belly and it's been a fight. I'm all stuck in my throat. I've got an emotional blockage in my head. I actually arrived in LA from my home in Toronto in 1985 with a woman called Penny. I drove thousands of miles in my 1969 132 Volvo in British racing green to be here. But Penny went back after a time. Despite LA's faults (and I don't mean the geological kind), I now regard it as home.
Q: How do you manage to stay out of the gossip columns?
A: Because my life is so boring and lacklustre it wouldn't stand up to appearing in print. I'm telling you, I have not led a rock 'n' roll existence. Here's how I spend my spare time: I play in a band. I study. I ride horseback. I do some ballroom dancing. I love the desert and the ocean. I work on my Shakespeare. Oh yes, and I love red wine. But I've never taken refuge in the bottle. At least not so far.
Q: What about those rumours that you are gay?
A: I've read too many rumours about myself which are just not true. One is that I really don't like women. I'm not seen around with a woman on my arm because I don't always go to the right receptions and parties and restaurants. It's just that I don't go out much.