KEANU REEVES HAS A WAY OF FINDING HIS HEAD IN CLOUDS
by Marco R. della Cava
BEVERLY HILLS, California -
Most stars don't want interviewers to come to their homes because it is too revealing. Keanu Reeves won't meet you there because he has no home. Call him Mr. Hotel.
For the past 18 months the supernova star of SPEED, who tackles his first romantic lead in A WALK IN THE CLOUDS, has called a suitcase and suites home. Today is no different.
"I have no house, no car, just two Nortons (temperamental British motorcycles). I bought two because one's always in the shop," says Reeves, 30. Suddenly, a smile and ..."hee-hee." His boyish giggle makes one of numerous appearances.
He seems younger than his SPEED character; perhaps because the hardbody has given way to softer surfaces. The hair is spiky and the stubble is fresh. Blemishes dot his chin. Reeves revels in the unexpected. Instead of following SPEED with SPEED 2, he did HAMLET onstage in his native Canada. Reviews were mixed, but he feels that on "two nights, I WAS Hamlet."
Perhaps even more cathartic was using the legendary Dane to channel his anger. "What surprised me was the anger I felt toward my mother," he says softly, looking away. "There were a couple of times I was, ah, I would have such violence. But that's good."
Reeves grew up shuttling between towns and schools with his mother and sister. His father, Sam, long split, is in jail on drug charges in Hawaii.
His CLOUDS character, Paul Sutton, a G.I. who returns from World War II in search of truth, also proved emotionally therapeutic.
"There was a maturity to him that taught me, I didn't bring it to him...I gained some (during the performance) by learning not to be victimized by some of the painful traumatic aspects of my childhood. Feeling them but not being victimized."
Such feelings befit an actor who is "rational and intellectual. When that happens he looks stiff," says director Alfonso Arau, who bows in Hollywood with CLOUDS after decades of moviemaking in Mexico. "But he also has this terrific charismas and innocence that I needed in that role."
Reeves says he is "disappointed" with the final cut because "scenes that show Paul Sutton's insecure nature were cut. Now he's Superman."
"Listen, I was an actor. We actors ALWAYS criticize the director for missing scenes. But we did a classic melodrama that doesn't run too deep. What Keanu had in him mind was never in my plan."
Despite obvious artistic differences, Reeves is polite about Arau. Rational.
But he is passionate, too. He responds to rumors with: "I don't give a f*&^ if anyone thinks I'm gay or not, or if I'm on drugs or not." So does he have a funny bone? Hey, this was the goofball in BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE.
He adores theater because films increasingly are ruled by budgets that limit the number of times scenes can be reshot. "Take me to Broadway, man! I get to do 800 shows in front of 800 people who are listening and who won't go anywhere because they paid too much!"
About being the next big action hero, he shrugs. "Ah, they all pump iron and eat pills. (He then affects a deep radio voice) 'And now, Kea-noo Reee-ves in his next movie saves the day.' Hee-hee."
Told he moved into the driver's seat in Hollywood after SPEED, he cuts in: "No, man, not after (the flop) JOHNNY MNEMONIC, they took me out. Hee-hee. I was just getting in the car and they said 'Excuse me sir, can we see your ID?"
If CLOUDS soars, Reeves will be back in Hollywood's fast lane.