Girlfriend (Aus), November 1996

Feeling Keanu

by Chris Carbury

How can one man be so sexy? How can he not know it? These are the conundrums of modern day life. Keanu Reeves - he of the piercing gaze and dogdy motorbikes skills is back! Girlfriend managed to nab him for a chat about his new movies, Feeling Minnesota and Chain Reaction and Dogstar. Of course.

Is your foot back to normal now after your motorbike accident?

Yeah, it's a little awkward. I thought it would be fine once the cast came off but I still have to hobble everywhere. It's still very hard to walk.

In the theatre, they have that expression 'break a leg'. What do they say to people who ride motorbikes?

They say, 'Break the other leg.'

Do you keep climbing on board?

Yeah. I love to ride.

Don't film companies get a bit scared, insurance-wise?

Yeah, sometimes they ask me not to ride, sometimes they don't.

A lot of motorcyclists say just getting on the road with the other motorists is tough in LA.

Yeah, they're a little tricky with the signaling thing. I guess you don't have enough hands left, with the phone, and the CD player. I guess they just forget to hit that indicator.

You've just returned from your first trip to Europe with Dogstar. Did you enjoy playing in Britain?

Yeah, London was fab. We played the Shepherd's Bush Empire which is a great place for bands to play. It's a really intimate, cool crowd. I had a couple of friends there, like Rachel Weisz, who stars with me in Chain Reaction. She's English and she was in town, so I went with her. The band had a really fantastic time. It was truly epic!

Would you ever be tempted to give up the acting and concentrate solely on the music?

No, never. I do have fun but I also have a lot of fun acting. No, acting is my deal. I'm just not that great a musician.

And I see you've just put out an EP?

Yeah, we have an EP out right now, which is actually also an enhance CD. It's pretty radical.

Yes, I've been playing with it - it's absolutely fantastic! Speaking of computers, have you checked out any of the websites devoted to you? The best one is the Society For Keanu Consciousness.

I've never gone into that one. I've only seen a photocopy of one website page and I hear it's really cool and creative. I like that.

There were reports that you gave up Speed 2 so you could carry on touring with Dogstar.

No, that's just not true. Speed 2 had nothing at all to do with playing in a band. That was my own choice and I don't know where those rumours started. Basically, I decided not to do Speed 2 because I just didn't want to repeat it and do the same thing again. Frankly, I've done one sequel before - Bill and Ted's Bogus Adventure - and the results were less than satisfying.

Last year you said that Sandra Bullock, director Jan De Bont and you had made a pact that either all of you would do Speed 2 or it wouldn't happen.

You've got to do what you've got to do, I guess. It's not that I'm sick of action films or anything like that. I really like them when they are good. I've just made another one in Chain Reaction. But I don't like repeating myself.

Was it hard to walk away from the offer of $32 million to make the sequel to Speed?

It was easy from my own point of view and because of the nature of the picture and doing it again. But it was very hard career-wise and from a business point of view because it was a lot of money. Speed brought me a lot of attention and a lot of opportunities to act in different films. Now I'm just throwing caution to the wind and we'll see what happens.

Is that why you agreed to do a small film like Feeling Minnesota with a first-time director?

I've worked with a lot of first-time directors and I love their enthusiasm. With this one, I went for the plot and the characters. I like the whole way these people are trying to get out of their pasts, trying to find love, but having hardship like Freddie [Cameron Diaz] and Jjaks [Keanu]. My brother in the film, Sam [Vincent D'Onofrio], he's also confused and lost in space, but still wanting to have an affair. It's very interesting and worthwhile.

The director said your sex scene with Cameron Diaz was very hot. He also said, "Keanu's thing kept failing out while they were writhing around on the floor. But Keanu just kept putting it back in and carrying on." What happened?

It was pretty funny. Poor Cameron. Her first scene on her first day was this hot sex scene on a bathroom floor. Her character's just got married and then we meet at her wedding and just go off and do it in the bathroom. We were going to do something else, another scene that day, but they told us because of the bad weather we had to start with that one. They said it would break the ice.

Did it break the ice?

Oh yeah. Cameron was pretty cool about it. She was wearing this wedding dress and I'm wearing a jockstrap and I guess it just fell out because it was a very physical, rolling around scene. It was probably the farthest I've ever gone on camera.

What did you get from Feeling Minnesota?

All you need is love. You see the way people are trapped in different ways by their pasts - like Freddie, who's physically trapped, having been raped, threatened, followed. There's a lot of pain in the film and stuff about criminals trying to get by, but for me it's also a love story with a happy ending. I like that.

Did you know your character, Jjaks, right away? Because in the beginning of the film the audience learns more about him the way other people respond to him.

It's hard for me because so much of me relates to what we shot. And then to speak about the film that exists is a little different. Not all of what we shot is in the film, unfortunately. There's a different life between the script and the film you see. So an actor has to come to terms with that. But yeah, I understood 'it feels too good', which is a line that the character says. And the line, 'It'll always turn to shit.' And that's really one of the moments, the backbone of Jjaks. It was cool, because the character tries to get over it. He jumps in.

In the film, there's a strong theme of sibling rivalry gone wild. Do you feet that's true to life?

I'd imagine that's inherent in the psychological make-up of all humans, western and eastern. But I don't think it's the case with me. My sister and I are very, very close and there is no feeling of rivalry between us.

Did you get many bruises from the fight scenes?

No, Vincent and I were quite careful about knocking each other in the face. Because we both exchanged blows, it was like one of those things where we went, 'Okay, now you hit me. Then ha ha ha ha, I get to hit you.' But Vincent is an amazing actor. So we were quite careful about taking care of that. But we'd both done fighting before.

How much did you interact with Courtney Love during filming?

I met her once. We said hello.

Did you have an interest in meeting her because you both have musical backgrounds?

You know what? I think she's a little more developed in a music sense, than I am. I'm a great fan of her and her albums. She brought a great energy to the set. Everyone was like, 'Wow, it's Courtney Love!'

Did you choose to do a commercial action movie like Chain Reaction next for the money?

The truth is, I didn't think it was going to be a big action movie. I had script consultation but not approval and I signed early on. But it went in a direction I wasn't expecting. I thought it was going to be drama-action. I think some of the drama stayed in there. The subject matter is quite different from the other movies around. We concentrated on making a very realistic picture and not letting the special effects be the most important aspect, like so many other movies. Some movies go so over the top with special effects. I feel like throttling someone when I see that trash.

You must have spent loads of time on that frozen lake shooting Chain Reaction. How was that?

It was cold. One time, I had to drive this ice boat. And I felt my hand flash freeze. It was really weird. It's because it's so cold that I guess everything in your hand crystallises. But it's an odd feeling, because you get a feeling of warmth, and then excruciating pain. And then the director is hand-holding a camera going, 'OK, now scream at her!' And you're like, 'What about me, man? I can't feel my hand!' But you just go for it.

What's next for you?

I'm now filming Devil's Advocate. I don't play the devil, I play the lawyer, so I'm both! Did you know there are more lawyers in school now than there are lawyers on the earth. So that means they're going to double in like five years, and spawn. It's kind of wacky. But yeah, I guess it's a kind of moral allegory. It's a thriller about a young lawyer who joins a top New York law office and then discovers his boss is a very sinister person.

You have had a rough ride with critics. What do you say?

Yeah, I've learnt to deal with the fact that I'm the critics' whipping boy.

Why do you think so many people have it in for you?

I think it stems from the early days when I went from a film like River's Edge to something like Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure and that really threw some people. And then I kind of stank in Dracula and that was a drag. I guess, after that, they didn't know what to make of me. I make up my own mind.

Why don't we ever hear or read about your relationships?

I haven't really had a relationship in the past couple of years. So I guess that's why you haven't heard about it.

So you haven't found the woman of your life?

(laughs) My soul partner? No, I haven't. Unfortunately. But I'm looking.

Is it hard to have a relationship in this business?

I don't know. I haven't had one. Well, no, I have, but it's hard to have a relationship... I can't even speak in general terms. In this business... I find that the creative process can be violent. Can be extreme. Can be moody, So maybe those aspects are a battle to be fought by the relationship itself.

Do you find people confuse the Keanu Reeves from your screen personality to who you are in regular everyday life?

Right. Well, that happens all the time. I've felt that duality for a long, long time. I really don't mind it. 'Cos I can easily see through it. Although, it's taken me by surprise a few times. I've had some close encounters of the weird kind when people have been with me because of who I am in the movies. And then there are other times when, you know, no-one knows who I am and no-one cares.

What's the difference between how you really are and how people think you are?

I have no idea. I would assume they're completely different, 'cos I'm not like any of the characters I've played on screen, although there are aspects of characters who are similar to me.

How would you describe yourself?

How would I describe myself? (smiles then laughs). I'm a deeply sensitive, extremely intelligent, romantic, funny, exciting person. Complex yet simple.

Who do you count among your Hollywood friends?

I don't have any famous friends.

Are you able to walk into a supermarket and buy groceries?

Yeah, sure. And I've done it. I'm not that famous, man. I'm not that famous. No.

How do you react when there are crowds of young girls screaming after you, "Keanu! Keanu! Keanu!"?

I actually enjoy it and think it's fun.

Are you afraid of losing your sex symbol status?

Listen, I'm not interested in that stuff. I just want to do good work in interesting films. Am I afraid of going away? Certainly. But I don't think about that other stuff 'cos it's really not important.

Case closed!

Article Focus:

Feeling Minnesota , Chain Reaction , Dogstar


Feeling Minnesota , Chain Reaction , Dogstar , Speed 2 , Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey , Speed , Devil's Advocate, The , River's Edge , Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure , Bram Stoker's Dracula

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