The Face (UK), November 1995
Keanu Reeves: Q&A
Keanu says he spends his money on sex and drugs but wouldn't call himself a star - not like Tom Cruise anyway. Edwin J. Bernard asks whether he's a guy with all the luck or the most boring man in town.
We're in Toronto where you grew up...
Yeah, I was raised here from seven to 19.
So how do you feel now you're back? After ten years you must see how you've changed.
Of course I'm changed, but no one has said... I mean, usually when people say, "You've changed" to me every time it's come around it means, "You used to be cool but now you're not". (laughs)
But you're the coolest dude in town.
No, no, no. I'm like the most boring guy in town. I am.
Do people recognise you?
I've been recognised about seven times, where someone comes up to me and says, "You look like..." And I go "Keanu?" And they go, "No, no. Didn't I go to high school with you?" "We didn't go to high school." "Yeah, yeah"...and that reminds me, the universe is big.
Considering you're a movie star, you manage to keep a pretty low profile.
I'm not a movie star. Movie stars are...Tom Cruise is a movie star.
So what's the difference between you and Tom Cruise?
He's a movie star.
What are you then?
An actor. Not that he's not an actor. I have to qualify that. But Harrison Ford is a movie star. Arnold Schwarzenegger's a movie star. Those guys are big. I've just done a couple of good performances in some righteous films.
Which are you most proud of?
River's Edge. Bill and Ted. Tune in Tomorrow (ie Aunt Julia and The Scriptwriter). Prince of Pennsylvania. Point Break is kinda cool. Permanent Record. And I Love You to Death - I think I did a good performance there. My Own Private Idaho is just a righteous film, although a lot of people still don't know what it means. Me too. But I like the collage and I thought that River's performance was amazing.
That's a lengthy list.
I dig them, man.
Any films you'd rather see buried?
Buried? No, because all deeds will rise/ till all the earth o'erwhelm to men's eyes. Hamlet. You can't put it down bro'. It is what it is. It is there. And I've done some moo-moos...
You played Hamlet in Winnipeg recently. Is your interest in Shakespeare something that started in high school?
Yeah, when I was 15. About the same time I decided I wanted to act.
Don't you find playing Shakespeare tough?
So the rumour goes. I don't think so. There's a strong tradition of Shakespeare here in North America. And popularly I think it was demonstrated with Denzel Washington and Robert Sean Leonard in Much Ado About Nothing. I thought, as two American actors, they were great.
What about Mel Gibson as Hamlet?
I didn't like the production. I thought the scenes with him and Glenn Close were the best part of the film. The rest of it, I thought, did not, was not...
Do you think being Canadian connects you more to Shakespeare?
(Fakes a lousy British accent) In terms of being closer to the English tradition? The birth line? My gene pool? My Shakespearean gene pool? (laughs) I'm sorry. No. Even coming back here I'd forgotten how much theatre and acting there is. We talk about acting here. We trade soliloquies. There's a lot of places to study. And I got to share some of that in my training growing up here.
What do you do with your money?
(Facetiously) Spend it on diamonds and sex and drugs.
Well, you obviously don't spend it on clothes.
What do you mean by that? Actually, I've had complete strangers come up to me and say, "Damn, why you look like that, man?" One time I was in Westwood and this guy asked me for some money and I gave him two dollars. He goes, "I was gonna give you some money." I just live. I don't have a specific cause, but I have given money to paediatric Aids and the homeless, and there's a fund for Hollywood actors for their retirement, some pro-choice causes, and because of circumstances I've got some family responsibilities. That's about it.
So you don't work in Hollywood for the money?
No. But I've had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest artists in cinema. End of story, man. It would not have happened if I was not in Hollywood.
Ever wonder why you got to be so lucky?
Yeah, I ponder that occasionally. But that is a question that is always a part of the past. So I give my thanks and hope I get the opportunities in the future.
Like going to Nepal for Little Buddha?
That was weird. I hadn't had a lot of death around me before I went. Since that time there's been more. I remember sitting by the River Ganges where they burn their dead and on the other side there's monkeys in the trees and dogs, and the priests are watching, and people are praying... and I was dealing the circle of existence and that was one of the first times that it really hit me. That circle of being born and dying, and all of the different existences. That touched me.
But you never became a Buddhist?
No, I never took refuge. They almost got me. I avoided the silk noose, as they call it. But f**k, I can't walk on water, man. And I ain't that good a person. I got my lies and terrors and sh**.
You're a sex god in Britain, you know?
A sex god. That sounds kind of Dionysian, Bacchus, mythic, tribal. Cool.