Keanu Reeves - Beat the Devil
by Jim Fryman
Since turning down the ill-fated Speed II: Cruise Control, heartthrob and occasional rock star Keanu Reeves is now regarded as one of the smartest actors in Hollywood. His performance in The Devil's Advocate with Al Pacino makes his judgement look all the better.
So, Devil's Advocate, where you play a lawyer who makes a deal with the devil... Did you see it as a morality tale or was it the chance to do all these sex scenes?
[Laughs] I saw it as a morality play and it was an interesting devil. Using criminal law advocacy as the ethical platform and also as a moral platform was beautiful.
You met with a lot of lawyers for research, so, do they feel guilty sometimes?
Most defense attorneys that I spoke with said, "Don't ask." It's not important whether the client did or didn't. They don't want to know. The question is, who defends the guilty? The burden of proof is on the prosecution and that's the only way it can be. Otherwise, all of the systems become quiet facist and then who controls that?
What's your favorite sin?
In a macabre sense, or my favorite one to do? I don't know. God, I'm guilty of them all - almost. It depends. I've never really thought about it.
Do you remember the first time you met Al Pacino?
No. Where did I meet Mr. Pacino? I met him downtown and we were doing camera tests.
What was that like?
He's very gracious. He said that he used to live in the neighbourhood where we were filming. When I heard about him taking the part I got light-headed and my blood tickled.
And did he live up to the experience?
Oh yeah, I think he's an incredible actor. I find his grace and expression beautiful in his craft. The way he fights for himself, to be able to be free to express himself so that every take is new, the intelligence of his choices, the humour.
Has that made an impact on you?
He really is free. Text is very important to him and yet at the same time he makes subtle changes to it. The biggest thing I learned from him was to fight for scenes, not to give up: "Let's do it again and do this."
What do you like about playing music?
It's good fun.
Does it scare you to death?
Some days. When I played the Filmore in San Francisco, it was incredible. The building itself emanates rock. It's like a muse, it's not about anger and down and gutter, it's beautiful. They made a poster for us and put it there with Janis Joplin, Jimi... We're on the wall now. The band became a band instead of a being a a bar band.
How is it to watch people dancing?
We had some great shows, the audience slamming and women showing us their tits.
How many of those were there?
Two usually. [Laughs] It's great - you're playing onstage and some goes [lifts up shirt].
And do they throw underwear?
Oh yeah, and phone numbers.
When you look at it, what's the scene that you're most proud of?
I was taking some classes with this man at the Dance Studio of Harlem for Movement. I was going to court, watching tapes, advocates, law, so it was really great. In terms of the scenes, I was looking forward to the emotional scenes, the hospital stuff - I love it when she cuts her throat.
What about that wild scene in the movie where you're making love and it's not your wife...
We did it twice. Those things are weird. And how about that butt shot that's in the movie? Oh my god.
Is that your butt?
Yes! Isn't it...urgh!?