Reaching his Speed limit
Keanu Reeves turns down star role in sequel to hit action flick
HOLLYWOOD -- A raggedy and bearded Keanu Reeves limps to his interview chair, looking a little haggard and a lot like a road weary rock 'n' roll warrior.
That's because he is. His band Dogstar is in the middle of a successful summer tour, highlighted by an acclaimed set at a London club a few weeks ago. Yes, even the cranky Brit pop press got gushy over the Keanu Reeves experience.
"It was fab," says Dogstar's bassist, faking a bad English accent. "We had a great show at the Shepherd's Bush empire."
Unfortunately, the star of stage and screen has returned to the reality of the movie industry, and the inquiring minds who lurk there.
So, before he can talk about his recovery from a motorcyle accident on Sunset Blvd. last May, before he can discuss roles in the action picture Chain Reaction, which opens Friday, and the quirky comedy-drama Feeling Minnesota, which is set for a September release, he must bring me up to Speed -- the sequel.
Reeves, a Toronto native, grimaces, but grimaces politely when the S-word is mentioned.
Then, he clears his throat. He's about to fess up, to deal with that pesky question: Why did he turn down Speed 2 and $11 million to tour with Dogstar.
"My giving up Speed 2 had nothing to do with me being in a band," says the 31-year-old in a measured but calm voice. "It was my own choice."
And he made that choice because? "I guess you could say I didn't want to repeat it."
He certainly won't be revisiting his buddy in a few months when Speed 2 starts shooting with Sandra Bullock and Reeves' replacement, Jason Patric. The fact that he has been the source of some head-shaking confusion over his decision doesn't seem to faze Reeves.
Industry insiders say he's an ingrate for not agreeing to follow up on a movie that made him a multi-millionaire superstar.
Reeves shrugs when that perception is mentioned. Despite some powerful arm-twisting and fancy cajoling, he resisted all temptations. He claims that he wasn't easily swayed from his wants and desires, which have less to do with power and glory than many thought.
He's also Grade A stubborn. For instance, as he recovers from the serious motorcycle accident that required surgery to remove a bone fragment from his foot, he admits that he drove to the interview on, yes, a motorcycle.
He admits something else. He's not as fit as he thought he would be after a tour break and a second operation a few weeks earlier.
"Yeah," says Reeves, "it's a little awkward. I thought I was going to feel better. But it's still kind of hard to walk."
Another good reason to avoid action pictures for a while, although rock 'n' rolling seems to be all right.