LOW-TECH KEANU REEVES IN HIGH-TECH MOVIE
by Craig Kopp
Keanu Reeves as a world-saving scientist?
Well, that's not quite his role in the new action-thriller "Chain Reaction," which opens Friday.
Reeves plays a technician who helped find a way to convert hydrogen into usable, clean fuel and is then set up as a terrorist when an evil shadow government kills the scientist in charge of the lab doing the research.
But Reeves, who got his start as half of the stoned-out duo in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" in 1989, did hang around with scientific types for a while to get ready for "Chain Reaction."
"I got to meet some physicists and astronomers. And that was really it. Those are the only people I kinda hung out with," said Reeves, 31, in a recent northern California interview. "It's fairly cloistered. I didn't party with 'em or anything."
That's probably for the best, really. Keanu Reeves is more of your low-tech guy.
He hasn't logged on to the Internet to see what has become something of an on-line religion based on Keanu and his movie roles.
"I've heard a bit about it. But, I'm sure every actor or person in the public eye has that. I mean, cults are like mushrooms, they just come up, you know. I'll have to check it out."
Reeves is certainly not into the cult of celebrity in any conventional Hollywood sense.
After doing promotional interviews for "Chain Reaction," he was off to Japan to join his band, Dog Star, on a tour through the Orient.
We somehow doubt that Reeves will drive the band bus, in light of his decision not to reprise his role in the bomb-on-a-bus box office smash "Speed."
Reeves is willing to talk about his decision to get off that bus, but he's amazed that there is so much interest in it.
"I find it all kind of wacky," said Reeves, with a confused smile. "A friend of mine told me he heard about it on the news, and that struck me as kind of absurd. It was a successful film and people enjoyed it and I had a pretty good time making it, but, as an actor, I just wanted to go a different way. But I can afford to make that decision at this time. At least I think I can. Everybody I talk to, including my manager, they're like, you're committing suicide with your career."
Echoing the theme of "Chain Reaction" -- that money really runs everything, including world-changing scientific progress -- Reeves is finding it a challenge to keep money from controlling his art.
"Yes! For me, I began as an unknown when I was 17, with no money, working at art. If you're lucky enough to have the opportunity to act and if you're lucky enough to get a position where people are offering you work, you have to make these kinds of decisions -- yeah. Certainly, when you make a film there's always, like, we need more time, but we don't have any money. And the people who give the money generally have last cut, and that's usually the unkindest cut of all."