Keanu - where are you?
Speed 2 Cruise Control barrelled into theatres last weekend without Keanu Reeves.
Reeves and Sandra Bullock starred together in the original Speed but he has been replaced in the sequel by Jason Patric.
Rumors abounded that Reeves just wasn't up to speed for the sequel -- that he had gained too much weight and couldn't chisel off the pounds in time.
"Keanu doesn't have a weight problem. It's a personality, insecurity thing," insists Jan De Bont, the director of both Speed movies.
"Speed put Keanu under incredible media scrutiny and that was something he just didn't know how to handle. He's a very shy, private person and suddenly there were all these stories about him."
The stories ranged from drug use to homosexuality.
"Keanu could see that Speed 2 was going to be one of the biggest movies of this summer and he wasn't prepared to go through another round of media scrutiny. He also feared being thought of being typecast as an action hero. Speed led to Chain Reaction, another action movie that Keanu had to carry.
"He had a bad experience making that movie. It was at that time he sent me a letter through his agent saying he wanted out of Speed 2."
De Bont recalls he flew to Chicago where Reeves was completing Chain Reaction to try to allay his fears and apprehensions.
"It was then he confessed to me he didn't want to carry a big movie. He wanted to do a few small pictures and maybe a supporting role in a bigger movie."
Reeves did both.
He took a cameo in the $2-million independent drama The Last Time I Committed Suicide and a supporting role opposite Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate, for which he will be paid $11 million.
De Bont says he hopes Reeves scrutinized the scripts for both his new projects.
"It's important to put Keanu in the right movie, otherwise he just can't do it.
"Keanu is the kind of actor who waits for the director to tell him what to do. He rarely initiates ideas on his own, so he needs a really strong director."
Bullock had originally insisted she would not do Speed 2 without Keanu.
"By the time Keanu told us he wouldn't do the sequel, the studio and Jan had already put a great deal of time, money and effort into the project. It would have been irresponsible of me to back out," explains Bullock.
"I owe my current celebrity to Jan. I wouldn't have the kind of clout I do in Hollywood today if it weren't for Jan taking a chance on me for Speed.
"I was Jan's first choice but the studio didn't want me. They had talked to a lot of high-profile actresses who'd all turned the project down."