ETonline (US), March 31, 1999
Keanu Reeves On The Set of 'The Matrix'
His new movie 'The Matrix' is so top secret, we can't tell you about it even though it's all ready in the theaters! But the movie's star KEANU REEVES gave us a little inside information on what it was like to film the science fiction extravaganza -- and what they wouldn't let him do!
ET: Did you have a lot of black-and-blue marks working on your kung fu?
Keanu: A couple. Because of the hits, you get a little bruised or a little tender, but the thing is in this film everyone was so enthusiastic. The directors, brothers ANDY and LARRY WACHOWSKI really wanted to put the actors right into the action. They wanted to film it in a sort of a Hong Kong-style where they didn't have to cut away and use edits, and the script is so beautiful and so everyone really just said yes. LAURENCE FISHBURNE, HUGO WEAVING, CARRIE-ANNE MOSS and I just said yes to four months of training before filming because we believed in the film. It is even better than what we had expected it to be.
ET: That kung fu scene with you and Laurence was unbelievable. You guys never hurt each other?
Keanu: Because of the training and practicing, (stunt coordinator) WOO-PING YUEN kept saying, "More power! More power!" So in terms of the hits and the blocks, you have to learn how to take it and pull it back, and we were really good with that. You get sore and tender, but you're not going to break anything.
ET: I heard you had a neck brace on for a lot of the movie.
Keanu: Yes, before filming I had to have some surgery on my neck.
ET: That couldn't be easy.
Keanu: Well, what was frustrating is that they didn't allow me to kick. While my brothers and sisters in training were kicking, I still had to keep punching because I couldn't kick because of the flexion in the neck. But it all worked out great.
ET: You also did that harness stunt where you were up in the air in those amazing scenes. Are you afraid of heights?
Keanu: I think I'm afraid of really, really, really high heights. You know, if you put me on a pedestal on the top of the Grand Canyon, floating out there I might be a little? But then I kind of dig that? So anyway, the wire work was great, because in part of the training. We watched some Hong Kong-style films with some wire cable stunts. And the brothers really wanted to do that, I really wanted to do that, and the movie really wanted me to do that!
So you get on the wire and then there's a pulley, and some people on the other end, the Hong Kong team, pulling the wires. They're masters. It's such a simple thing, but it creates magic. It's really fun. Through all that action, you're telling a story, so often times a fight scene is pure spectacle, but in this there are lessons being learned. So through all of that fighting, you're also involved in it just because of the story.
ET: But being harnessed up there and having to do all that physical stuff, any mishaps?
Keanu: You just keep coming back to the bashing and crashing!
ET: I was just amazed at what you were able to do!
Keanu: Well, it was the training and just really expert instruction and support. That's one of the things about the film, people believing in other people allows you to fly. Also just working with Laurence. Those guys are just beautiful actors. Because it is kind of a dance, you have to communicate and trust.
ET: Did you keep up with the kung fu after the movie?
Keanu: I did not! I finished my kung fu and then I put it down. But hopefully, I'll get back to it. After a year and a half, I just wanted to rest.
ET: You and Laurence together had great chemistry. What was it like for you working with him?
Keanu: Exciting! There was a scene in the film where my character and his character meet. That was just a really special day. He's just so beautiful, so free, and he doesn't censor himself, as he says he just kind of "swings." That was good for me to be around. He's such a giving actor as well. It was great.
ET: Action hero Keanu Reeves. After this move, how do you feel about that?
Keanu: Maybe a "dramaction" hero for this film?
ET: How do you feel about being the new action hero?
Keanu: Well, I don't want to be completely defined by that. But certainly in the work that I have done in the past with 'Point Break' and 'Speed,' I do like the genre. But those films and this one have content, a story, and if that's the new action hero, and if they want to make another 'Matrix,' I'm in. But I also want to do other work.
ET: Do you like the whole idea, "Keanu Reeves saves the world?"
Keanu: In the past, I have had the chance to play heroes and that's kind of what the journey is in terms of me saving the world. There's a part of this film that says it's up to all of us.
ET: You are really proud of this one, aren't you?
Keanu: Yes, I think it's a great film and the people I got to work with are very special. For the four months of training, we'd just hang out, put our legs up to stretch and just talk about our nights and days. And to work with the brothers who are the most decent people. They really are respectful and creative artists.
ET: We were talking when you first came in about how I haven't seen you in awhile. Where have you been Keanu?
Keanu: I was in Sydney, Australia making 'The Matrix' for four months, and before that I was training for 'The Matrix' for four months. Before that, I don't remember where I was.
ET: Just for the girls, because I know they're all curious, how's the love life? What is going on?
Keanu: Oh, my... Am I blushing? How do I say this nicely... It's none of anyone's business!
ET: Oh, come on. Are you happy?
Keanu: Yeah, days have been good.