Keanu Reeves takes time out to chat to Marianne Gray about his attitude to stardom and why money is nice but it certainly isn't everything.
"If I could find gloriously off-beat, talky small-budget films as well written as, for example, The Last Time I Committed Suicide, I would do them all the time," says Keanu Reeves, "but until I find the next one I am off, getting into training for a bit of chunky sci-fi."
He is talking of science fictioner Matrix, for which he is reportedly to receive $10million, directed by The Wachowski Brothers, Andy and Larry, the first-time directors who brought us the superlative noir thriller Bound.
Keanu (the name translates as 'cool breeze over the mountains' in Hawaiian), 34, describes the film as a "bit crazy". "I have a lot of fighting scenes. It's a film that's very ambitious in its action and from what I've seen of the storyboards they want to move the camera in insane angles. It's really very ambitious. My training has been like circus training - I have had to learn to fly, to flip, to really move.
"I want to do good movies in whatever form that comes in. My acting journey is my personal journey. I feel that because I've never played the Hollywood game and always kept my distance, my journey can take me somewhere interesting."
It seems to be paying off with huge dividends. He does huge studio pics, does the job, takes the money and then drops out to hit the road playing bass with his rock band Dog Star. Or make a movie for 'lunch money', less than scale. Reeves's rejection of an offer of $11million to make Speed 2 in favour of $200,000 for the romantic Feeling Minnesota with Cameron Diaz perhaps exemplifies his attitude to his work.
"Of course money and power are important but as long as I can afford to have the luxury of not having to work for money, I do whatever I want to do.
"I'm not one of those actors who are forever reading screenplays and optioning stories to be made by their own production company. I don't sit around talking acting.
"Perhaps I talk to a couple of friends about how I'm approaching my role but mostly I look to the director. I like to be guided. I hope by now word has got round that I study for my parts. I could never be one of those actors who shows up on the set not knowing his lines. I don't want to be a superstar like Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise. I'm more interested in variety than stardom."
Reeves's off-screen journey so far has brought him from being born in Beirut to a Hawaiian-Chinese geologist father (whose stepfather made a small fortune bringing a children's edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica to Canada) and an English bohemian mother who made stage costumes for entertainers like Dolly Parton.
His parents split while their son and his younger sister, Kim, were still small and he has not seen his father in recent years as he is serving a 10-year prison sentence for cocaine possession in Hawaii.
They lived in Australia and New York before settling in Toronto where he spent his teenage years, not excelling at the local Catholic school. A break came when Reeves's mother was briefly married a theatre director named Paul Aaron, whom he used to visit in Los Angeles and work with in the theatre.
"People always ask me how I handle fame. I don't," says Keanu. "The word fame comes from the Latin word 'fama', which means rumour. It's just gossip. All I can do is hope that I get work and that people enjoy what I do. Above and beyond that, I don't really concern myself."