KEANU LIKES HOCKEY'S SPEED
Reeves And Band Dogstar Are Puck Crazy
On screen, Keanu Reeves has always enjoyed taking risks. One minute he can be spouting Shakespeare, the next, defusing a bomb-laden bus.
Reeves relishes a bit of danger away from the cameras too. He has played hockey most of his life. He's been sidelined recently, having suffered a broken ankle in a motorcycle mishap. But he plans to return to the ice as soon as his schedule permits.
In addition to making movies, Reeves has also been touring with the Los Angeles-based rock trio Dogstar. Their debut album, "Our Little Visionary". If it hadn't been for hockey, this up-and-coming band wouldn't even exist.
Drummer Rob Mailhouse, who's also an actor, recalls, "Keanu and I met years ago in a supermarket. It was a hockey thing. I had a hockey jersey on. He came up and said he was interested in getting into a game. He's a goaltender. I play ice hockey alot.
"So Keanu approached me and gave me his number. I called him up and he came out and played some hockey. We got to be friends and realize that we had musical interests in common too. One thing led to another."
Mailhouse grew up in Connecticut. "When I was young, I was into the minor leagues, like the New Haven Nighthawks, weird teams like that, more than the Whalers.
Mailhouse, who now roots for both the [Anaheim] Mighty Ducks and the [Los Angeles] Kings, says, "I didn't play much then, just a bit of pond hockey. I wasn't a really good athlete when I was young. I got better as I got older, so I started playing alot more. I still play religiously."
He explains his fascination with hockey: "I love the grace and beauty of the game. I now it sounds corny, but it's like the only sort of sport that's not just raw macho energy crap. It's physical yet it's beautiful to watch. It's almost like art. It has a worldly appeal like European football does. I'm talking about soccer. It's not just people putting on pads, beating the shit out of each other. I love that hockey is cold and fast, always moving and flowing. There aren't alot of stoppages in play."
Lead guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Bret Domrose is at the front of the action with Dogstar. With hockey, he takes a seat in the stands. "Everybody but me plays hockey. I love watching the game. I'm from the Bay Area, Santa Clara, so it was a little difficult to get into the sport growing up. I was playing alot more attention to baseball. Robert's from Connecticut and Keanu's from Canada. Those are hockey hotbeds. But I'm definitely a fan now. I try to follow the [San Jose] Sharks as closely as I can."
Reeves grew up primarily in Toronto. He says his allegiance is to the sport, not any particular team. His childhood idol was Jacques Plante.
"I've been playing since I was eight years old. It's very much a part of my spirit. I played hockey pretty seriously until I was 17 or 18. I really love the game. You get to chase a puck! I enjoy the contact, the physicality of it. I still have all my goaltending equipment and try to play as much as I can in California leagues, pick-up games.
"But when I started to act, I looked around the hockey dressing room one day and said, 'Go for acting!' Acting is also something I love."
One of Reeves' first films, "Youngblood", combined both loves, acting and hockey. You'll miss him, if you blink. But he's in his goalie gear in the locker room. Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze starred in this movie about life in the junior leagues.
"It was my first time in front of a 35mm camera. I'd done commercials and a little bit of radio before that. One of the most exciting aspects of doing that movie was that alot of the guys in it were actually from major junior hockey, the level just below pro. Their shots were exceptional. It was really fun to face those."
There have been several hockey film projects in the works in recent years. "No one's really approached me on any of them and I haven't come across any scripts. I've heard talk of some more hockey films in development, but they haven't gotten the financing. It would be fun to do something like that certainly."
Why does Reeves like playing the masked man on the ice? Aren't goalies crazy? "You are allowed to be a little kookie. Certainly, there's a solo aspect to the position. That appeals to me.
"You meet different kinds of goalies. Some are very superstitious. Some are very introverted. You can't talk to them before a game. I've always been a more aggressive and gregarious goaltender."
And facing a head-high slap shot? Doesn't that make Reeves flinch? "No," he says, grinning, "I dig that."