Lunch With Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves was so brilliant as the airhead Valley Boy in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) that the image stuck. Despite other fine performances in River's Edge, My Own Private Idaho, Speed and Feeling Minnesota, he got labeled a no-talent. Last year, the 32-year-old actor made history when he turned down the sequel to Speed. Call him brave or call him dumb, Keanu preferred making a small independent movie about the Beat generation called The Last Time I Committed Suicide.
You're playing drunk in most of The Last Time I Committed Suicide. Did you drink to get in the mood? I drank a lot while I was doing the piece. I kept myself on the cusp of not drunk-drunk so I'd have that thing. I didn't want to do it completely straight.
Did you ever think that maybe you should do Barefoot in the Park or something less challenging before trying Hamlet on stage?
No, it was the right time. I've done enough training with Shakespeare to understand how to work on the part. My first acting experience on stage was in The Tempest, ages ago. Could I have been better? Of course, we had only 4 1/2 weeks to rehearse. But by the last week of the run, it was good. I had one matinee where I really hit "To be or not to be." That was an incredible sensation. Tears were falling. It was such a trapped feeling, a searching, I found it. I got it once out of 36 performances. But the rest were OK.
I think a number of critics find your performances erratic. Some are great and others are awful.
I guess you could say I'm inconsistent. Some people like my style and some people don't.
What upsets you?
When I've done good work and they don't see it.
Johnny Mnemonic. I liked my work in Feeling Minnesota. I don't read my reviews, but you can't help reading the first line and the last line.
Where's home for you?
Home is where my couch is. I have a home. I just don't have a house or apartment.
You're still doing that hotel thing.
Yeah, but L.A. is my home. I've been here almost 13 years now.
Back to your current film. When was the last time you tried to commit suicide?
Oh God! [Laughs] Sometimes you have that extinction impulse. And then something happens and you feel like you're going to die and then you know you're just kidding yourself. You get sick and you can't breathe and then you're fighting for life like a lunatic. Then you can't look at anything the same way.
Is that how you felt after the motorcycle accident?
Yeah, I've had quite a few.
Were they minor?
Not the last one. Getting hit broadside by a car going 40 miles an hour?
Did that put a fear of death in you?
Yeah. A friend was riding with me recently and she said, "You're riding [a cycle] different now. You're riding scared." I'd see a car coming to a stop sign and my body will clench, my body temperature will change. I still ride, but I have a car now, too.
What kind of car?
I have a 1996 Carrera Porsche. I have the closest car to a motorcycle I could get. I didn't have a car for six years.
Have the cops picked you up?
I got a ticket on a trip to Santa Fe. I had to go to traffic school.
How fast were you going?
I don't know how fast I was going. At the time, I thought, "I'm one of five cars in the middle of Arizona, Nowhere. I can't see the end of the highway. I'm in a high-performance motor vehicle. Who's going to give me speeding ticket?"
Did he recognize you?
Yeah, he asked if I was that Speed guy.