Keanu proves he's Devilish
(Previously published on October 12 as a longer version under the title 'Crazy Like A Fox')
Questioned for passing on Speed 2, Keanu Reeves gets the last laugh
by Louis B. Hobson
NEW YORK -- For a spaced-out dude, Keanu Reeves certainly had a major case of the smarts last summer.
It seems Reeves was the only one who could tell a bogus journey from an excellent adventure.
Reeves sent shock waves through Hollywood when he passed on an $11-million payday for Speed 2, packed his guitar and went on tour with his band Dogstar instead.
Reeves left his managers to negotiate an $8-million deal for him to star opposite Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate, which opens this Friday in Edmonton.
"Unless you're The Love Boat, films set under water or above water or those that touch down momentarily on water are fine, but movies that are set on water are the kiss of death," explains Reeves about his decision to pass on Speed 2: Cruise Control.
Reeves was replaced by Jason Patric and the movie ended up as one of the summer's biggest box-office disasters.
"The version I read had this cruise liner speeding toward a resort town. It sounded pretty ridiculous. I mean, just how fast can an ocean liner go? It hardly qualifies for Speed."
Reeves doesn't consider choosing a gig with his band over starring in a major action movie a radical decision. The 32-year-old actor was almost weaned on music.
When he was a child in Toronto, his Hawaiian paternal grandmother had a small recording studio in her home.
Reeves would sit in the studio, listening to musicians like Alice Cooper cut tracks for their albums.
"Music and hockey were in my blood long before acting," explains Reeves, whose stepfather, Paul Aaron, is a theatre director whom credits with sparking his interest in acting.
According to Reeves, performing live on stage, whether it's with Dogstar or as the moody Dane in the Manitoba Theatre production of Hamlet, gives him a rush movies have failed to.
"You're so close to your audience. You have the sense they're scrutinizing your eyebrows. That exhilarates you. It makes you give everything you have in you.
"On our tour this summer, we played in venues where Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin had played. You could feel their ghosts. I've never gotten that on a movie set."
The closest a movie ever brings Reeves to his stage rushes is when he gets to do his own stunts.
"I've always been a bit reckless. The more physical acting gets, the more comfortable I feel. I love the danger in doing stunts and physical stuff in films."
And in real life too.
Reeves has the scars on his stomach, forehead and hip from his series of motorcycle accidents.
"When they're taking you to the hospital, you sort of think you'll never get back on the bike but that feeling passes quickly."
Reeves's motorcycles and cars are his only real possessions. He has yet to buy a house or apartment, preferring instead to call hotels his home of choice.
In The Devil's Advocate, Reeves plays a young Southern lawyer who is courted by a powerful New York law firm.
In what is essentially a Faustian tale, Reeves trades his soul for fame and power. Pacino is the head of the firm who negotiates this devil of a deal.
Reeves was cast first in The Devil's Advocate.
"When I heard that Al Pacino was going to play the devil, I got lightheaded and blood tingled. Like any other movie-goer, I've been blown away by his performances and here I was going to act with him."
Reeves says Pacino proved to be "a beautiful, gracious man. It's astonishing how he's able to express himself for a camera. He becomes so free. He's never intimidated by anything and he never stops trying to make a scene better."
According to Charlize Theron, nudity doesn't intimidate Reeves, as she discovered while filming their intense sex scene in The Devil's Advocate.
"Keanu is so comfortable with his body that you don't feel uncomfortable being naked with him.
"If took us two full days to shoot our sex scene and Keanu kept us all laughing."
Though the script and direction did not call for Reeves to be fully nude, Theron suspects "he'd have had no problems stripping down. I've done nude scenes with other actors who were so nervous, they made all of us uncomfortable. At one point, Keanu told me to pull his pants down. It wasn't in the script but they kept his butt shot in the movie."
Reeves says he wishes now he'd asked for a double.
"It's not a pretty sight. In fact, it's probably the scariest moment in the movie," he jokes.