TV Hits (Aus), March 1995
TV Hits Speed! Special
Keanu and Sandra SPEED back!
Move over driver, because the bus with the bomb is back! Speed, last year's thrill-a-minute action flick, is finally on video this month - and TV HITS hops back on board with its two most famous passengers.
(only Keanu content)
Speed is such a mad action film that many critics labelled it Die Hard On A Bus when it was released last year. Despite being a fave with you guys, Keanu Reeves didn't really have much box-office clout until Speed hit the screens - then, Hollywood couldn't get enough of him! So what made him choose to star in a big-budget action movie typically reserved for the likes of 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 the 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?
"I have no real ambition to be an action hero and repeat that kind of work," he stresses. "Acting in a film of this kind was great but I don't know if it will happen again in the future."
What about the rumours that he's agreed to do a Speed 2? "Well... 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 Speed's plot (just in case you were the one who missed it!) Keanu and co-star Sandra Bullock have several, shall we say, very close scenes together which he 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 this 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 skydiving, surfing FBI agent alongside Patrick Swayze's surfer in the thriller Point Break. So is he naturally a mad stuntman?
"No, I think I'm only a closet thrillseeker! Learning to skydive 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 adds 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 standing on a car going at 45 miles an hour!"
According to Keanu, it was super important that he attempt 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 have been like," he 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 Keanu's biggest hit movie to date - in fact, it was 1994's fourth highest-grossing flick, here in Australia - 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," laughs the 30-year-old. I was about 16 at the time. From then on, I just started taking acting classes. 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 stepfather'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!'"
With more challenging roles coming up in Johnny Mnemonic and A Walk In The Clouds, it seems the days of being remembered as brain-dead Ted in the Bill And Ted adventures could be over for Keanu.
"Oh, 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 my movies."