New Idea (Aus), September 29, 1997

Why I'm living with the homeless

(Note - According to a source of unknown reliability, this entire interview turned out to be fabricated. Keanu reportedly found it highly amusing. The events mentioned are vaguely true, though the film role in question was later turned down. - Anakin McFly)

With just $25 in his pocket, eccentric star Keanu reeves took to the streets to prepare for his latest film role.

Keanu Reeves takes his craft seriously, so seriously that he recently risked life and limb by spending days and nights as a resident in the alleyways of Los Angeles' down and out district.

The dedicated actor took to the streets with just $25 in his pocket and his heart in his mouth to prepare for his upcoming role as a homeless man who wins millions in the lottery.

As Keanu explains in this exclusive interview with New Idea, his decision to live out on the grimy streets was met with horror by his friends.

"They said I was crazy, but I did it anyway," Keanu says. "I felt it was important that I would know exactly who my character was and how he would feel living on the streets."

As our pictures show, Keanu prepared for his time on the streets with the same attention to detail that he gives to his screen roles. His boyish complexion was covered with a week's stubble. Also sacrificed was personal hygiene, then Keanu topped off his homeless look by wearing his most ragged clothes.

Keanu says: "The first day I showed up, there were four guys in the alley. It was like, 'Hey, who's the new kid on the block?' They didn't recognise me because I looked so bad."

Keanu's first night on the streets, where violence and crime are an everyday occurrence, was one he'll never forget. Despite having the 'luxury' of his own cardboard box, things were anything but comfortable.

"I was a little paranoid. I slept with my head out of the box so I could see anyone approaching me. I was so frightened I slept with one eye open," he says.

Morning couldn't come quickly enough for the bleary-eyed film star, who had to walk to a local service station to freshen up.

Happily for Keanu, he was able to strike up a relationship with his fellow residents in the alley.

He says: "They quickly got used to the fact that I was there and stopped trying to intimidate me. One night my meal was a halffull can of beans that I shared with another homeless man. One night we all sang songs together until we fell asleep. Despite all the dirt and the squalor, there was a common humanity there."

Keanu, who recently knocked back $15 million to play the lead in Speed 2, says the time with his homeless friends taught him an important lesson.

"It gave me a new perspective on life. I had never realised the value of a cardboard box. I learned that the Cadillac of cardboard boxes is one that has contained a refrigerator or a freezer. They are warm and dry and save your life.

"I had to live with these people, so I know what makes them tick."

However, even Keanu's acting skills couldn't work forever. An alley mate finally recognised that Keanu was ... Keanu!

Before he left, Keanu offered his friends lunch. He says: "I expected them to ask for steak or lobster, but all they wanted was to go to McDonald's. That was luxury. It was a humbling experience and I think I'm a better person for it."


Speed 2

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