KEANU REEVES -- DEVILISHLY GOOD
From his first Excellent Adventure to his recent battle with Satan in the shape of Al Pacino, Keanu has been either OBJECT OF LUST OR OBJECT OF RUMOUR. Brad Ritzer got a step closer to the truth. When Keanu Reeves turned down the sequel to the film that made him a bona fide movie star - Speed - everyone thought he was mad. It turned out to be a smart move. Instead, he made The Devil's Advocate -- a sexy thriller opposite Al Pacino. Here, the 33-year-old actor puts straight many of the rumours that have circulated about him, including the latest - that he's romantically involved with former Word presenter and estranged wife of Duran Duran's John Taylor, Amanda de Cadenet.
Q: Considering that Speed 2 sank without trace, are you glad you turned it down?
Reeves: I'm not smug about it at all. I did The Devil's Advocate instead of Speed 2. They were filming at the same time. It was a tough decision at the time. But I always thought it was the right one. Believe me, my manager had a tough time with it. 'Honey, we're not getting a BMW this year...'
Q: The story is that you preferred touring with your band, Dogstar to making Speed 2.
Reeves: That's not true. Not doing Speed 2 had nothing to do with the band. What happened was I had just done a picture called Chain Reaction which was really unsatisfying. I had to do a lot of running and action and it was disappointing. So then they wanted to get me on the boat. But the script wasn't great, and I just wasn't ready to mentally and physically do that picture. I said no. I could afford to say no because I could pay my rent.
Q: There have been many stories about you which have turned out to be untrue. What's the weirdest story you've ever read about yourself?
Reeves: I don't know about it being the weirdest, but the one I wish was true was a story that had me swimming with Sharon Stone. It was like, 'Sources say Mr Reeves was swimming with Sharon Stone...' Hmm, I was? What, the breast stroke?
Q: After the rumour that had you 'married' to movie mogul David Geffen, Hollywood gossips are now saying that you and Amanda de Cadenet are engaged. Is anything happening with you, romantically speaking?
Reeves: No, nothing going on there. I'm still looking for love, hopefully not in all the wrong places.
Q: But it is true that you and Amanda sometimes live together?
Reeves: We're great friends. I love Amanda very dearly. In Hollywood it is very important to have a friendship and it is great we can share things.
Q: Is there a part of you that wants to marry and have children?
Reeves: I went through a phase last year, but I'm over it. I'm sure it's something that'll keep coming around, but I'm kind of over it right now.
Q: How was it working with Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate? And what did you learn from him?
Reeves: At first it was a little intimidating. But then it became like he was a peer, actually a father. I was more worried about letting him down than letting the scene down. What he taught me was: Keep fighting. Always fight. Fight for yourself, fight for the scene, fight for the film, fight to create. The fighting never stops. He's really amazing. He's an incredible actor and he's also very beautiful. I find his grace and his expression beautiful.
Q: So you enjoyed working with him?
Reeves: Yeah, he was very gracious. He would never say, 'Kid, ya suck!' or 'Whadya doin' to me here, kid?' and I never said anything like, 'C'mon, Al, you sucked in that scene!'
Q: Actually, there were rumours that he did get angry at you for flubbing some of your lines.
Reeves: Yeah, there was one scene that was just really hard for me. I think it was when I first meet him.
Q: Do you believe in the Devil?
Reeves: Different cultures have their own gods and their own devils. I'll say this: Anyone who practices any kind of focus in their lives - whether mental or spiritual - will bring about their own gods and devils.
Q: Have you ever felt that you've sold your soul?
Reeves: Sometimes you have those feelings. Sometimes things request you in a part or a situation that you don't agree with, that you feel like you're - I guess the term is selling out. What does that mean? It's going against what you feel is right or it's cheap or crass or low. The soul is really a malleable thing. So sometimes you sell it, and sometimes you don't. Sometimes it seems you get other chances - and sometimes you don't.
Q: We get to see your bum in the film. Is that you or a stand-in?
Reeves: That's me, I think it's me. Yeah, it's me, I think. I don't know. Yes it's me, it's mine.
Q: What does it feel like to see your bottom blown up like that on the big screen?
Reeves: Shocking. God, I almost brought up my lunch. Oh my God, that's just embarrassing!
Q: As well as The Devil's Advocate you also appear in a supporting role in a low-budget film about Jack Kerouac and the Beat generation - The Last Time I Committed Suicide. Why play such a small role in an even smaller film?
Reeves: I loved it. When you're not playing the hero in a piece, you don't have such an obligation. You generally get to do more stuff - like character things. Actors always look to play the villain, because there's more to do.
Q: With your nomadic lifestyle some would say you are the modern equivalent of those Beat poets. What do you think about that?
Reeves: To me, these writers have always resonated with me, and I used that to try and read my life and break out of myself, search for new sensations living the moment, staying up late, travelling, experiencing. But also I've always found it sort of melancholy on the road; there's a sadness to it. Searching for something but not necessarily finding it. And I'm still doing it. Now, I'm a little older, so I have to pick my times.
Q: When you just need to escape from things these days, where do you go?
Reeves: Sometimes I just sit on my couch and think or read or play chess. I get to do it a little bit with the band I play in. We've been on the road for the past couple of summers. That's really doing it - going on the road, playing music, drinking, going out for laughs.
Q: When you can earn up to $10 million per film, why do you want to be in a rock band that doesn't even have a record deal?
Reeves: You get to play music, original music that's your own, and you're in a band with your friends. Hopefully, you're bringing in enough people that they give you some free beer. Thing is, because I'm the guitarist, not the singer, the real pits is when the word gets out and people who know nothing about music come to see us, expecting to see some movie star. One of the guys, who's the lead guitarist, told me, 'I feel like I'm playing to a sea of left ears!' That's because everyone's looking across the stage at me. But I'm just playing the bass; it's not that interesting. That stuff's got to stop after a while.
Q: You also enjoy riding motorbikes although you've had some serious accidents in the past few years.
Reeves: Yeah, I've had quite a few. Getting hit broadside by a car going 40 miles an hour was pretty bad. My two Norton motorcycles are my prized possessions. I could never think of not riding them again. I don't know if I'm getting better at riding them but I definitely know I'm getting better at crashing!
Q: Have you changed the way you ride since the accidents?
Reeves: A friend was riding with me recently and she said, 'You're riding different now. You're riding scared.' I supposed I am. I'll see a car coming to a stop sign and my body will clench, my body temperature will change. I still ride, but I have a car now, too. I have a 1996 Carrera Porsche. I have the closest car to a motorcycle I could get.
Q: Another of your passions is ice hockey - another dangerous sport. Why are you attracted to it?
Reeves: I wanted to be a hockey player long before I ever thought of being an actor. I was pretty shy as a child. I didn't feel confident unless I was on the ice. Because I had trouble reading, I wasn't a good student. I didn't finish high school. I did a lot of pretending as a child. It was my way of coping. When I was 15, I started doing some acting and I got hooked because it was like hockey in that it allowed me to be somebody different.
Q: You're about to head off to Australia for four months to star in a big science fiction film, Matrix. What can you tell us about it?
Reeves: Oh, man, I'm so psyched about this. It's going to be wild. I play this guy Thomas Anderson who thinks he's in the present - which is now - but he's really in the year, like 2297. It gets a little crazy. But not only is there a ton of cool stuff like guns, bullets, death and sound effects, but it's also about something, you know?
Q: It's no secret that you're uncomfortable with movie stardom. What aspects of your fame do you find hardest to deal with?
Reeves: The weird thing about it is when you meet people who obsess or really focus in on you and what they expect from you or wish you to do. It's sometimes weird, sometimes really sweet. It goes from people who are ill, who would like you to support them in certain ways, financially to love letters, to 'you're the only one who knows me', to 'there's a conspiracy against me, you're the only one who can help me', to 'can I have your child?' to 'I named my son after you.' Stuff like that.
Q: It's true that you have many fans, but you don't always seem to fare so well with the critics. How do you deal with that?
Reeves: Alka-Seltzer! You know, some people like what I do, some don't. There's not really much I can do about it. I'm trying, you know? I'm not the best actor in the world, I know that. But I'm trying. That doesn't mean anything, I guess - just to try.
Q: Do the critics bother you?
Reeves: It's like they have a separate rating - the Reevesian view. 'Okay, here's this Reeves guy again. What can we say about him now?'
Q: Have you ever considered packing it all in and living a life of obscurity?
Reeves: Yeah, sometimes I get frustrated with the process of making films. When you're trying to do a film and trying to do good work but because of the time limitations you can't. You can't do things the way you'd like to do them.
Q: Still, recently Empire magazine ranked you at No 23 on its list of The Top Movie Stars Of All Time. You're popular, and you'd certainly be missed if you did decide to give it all up and disappear.
Reeves: Really? That's crazy I don't know what that means but hopefully people like the films. I guess I'll just keep on working. I love to work and I love acting more and more. But you know, I'm just making it up as I go along.