by Richard Moore
Keanu Reeves has a confession to make. The actor, who is enjoying a career renaissance after playing computer expert Neo in The Matrix, is not enamoured by technology. In fact, he makes a point of not dabbling on the World Wide Web.
"I'm not on line," he says, "and I've never actually participated. It's very funny - it makes [directors Andy and Larry Wachowski] laugh: 'You're playing this computer genius and you don't have a computer!'"
Perhaps Reeves has got the right idea. If he'd checked out some of the unofficial Internet film sites before the début of The Matrix, he might have read the articles that suggested he was working on a poorly conceived, potential flop. How wrong those cyber-space writers were. Hailed as one of the finest Science Fiction films of recent years, The Matrix made a killing at the box office, prompting Warners to order two sequels.
"It was something that I'd never seen before," says the actor of his initial attraction to the project. "They'd been writing it for about four or five years. I've actually never seen the first versions: they won't show them to me. They were supposed to be way, way out there.
"They used a lot of anime aspects - the graphic novel aspect of it for the look. You had the heart and the searching, something that speaks to me as a person, and then you got to go into the mythic, epic aspects. The fantasy to fight, to be a hero. I had a great time. It was really fun."
Reeves is quick to attribute the movie's success to the incredible vision of the Wachowski Brothers. In merging Hong Kong action with a high concept script, the writer/directors have moved science fiction into the new millennium.
"They are the most creative, decent and supportive people," he enthuses. "Great artists and visionaries. This is their second film, and they weren't used to actors in the beginning, but they're so bright and they just listen.
"Larry is kind of the front man; he speaks his ideas. Andrew has the visuals. What's interesting is you would watch them answer questions separately with the same taste. They were really on beam in terms of the vision of the film, and you could speak to either of them about anything at any time."
The Matrix sequels are scheduled to go before the cameras in Sydney in September 2000. Reeves has signed up (with a highly lucrative deal) and co-stars Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss are also expected to reprise their roles. No doubt about it: the SF blockbuster that came out of nowhere looks set to become the biggest SF movie franchise since Star Wars. An incredible reality indeed.