Mr. Showbiz (US), January 4, 2000

Keanu Goes Bad, for Less

Keanu Reeves isn't quite on Tom Cruise's level yet, but now that The Matrix has made him a bona fide movie star worth $15 million a pic, his making another indie film, in which he'll take a small role for much less than $15 mil, is news. Especially newsworthy is the type of role Keanu will play, that of a vicious, wife-beating murder suspect, akin to Cruise's sleazy turn in the indie flick Magnolia, notes Variety.

The film is The Gift, which will mark a return to low-budget filmmaking for Evil Dead director Sam Raimi after this year's mainstream outing For Love of the Game. The pic is budgeted at under $10 million and stars Cate Blanchett, Katie Holmes, Giovanni Ribisi, and Ron Eldard (ER). Billy Bob Thornton, who starred in Raimi's neo-noir A Simple Plan, co-wrote the script with One False Move's Tom Epperson.

Blanchett stars as a woman with "the gift" of clairvoyance who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a small Southern town. Reeves will play a violent redneck who becomes the prime murder suspect and who threatens Blanchett's life after she counsels his battered wife. Quite a change of pace from the stars' respective turns as savior-hacker Neo and Queen Elizabeth.

Ribisi, who'd rather be remembered for Saving Private Ryan than the ill-fated Mod Squad, will play a troubled youth with a past who becomes "an important ally" to Blanchett.

Reeves will do The Gift, which starts shooting Feb. 7, before tackling the remake of the romantic drama Sweet November at Warner Bros.

Keanu will get his now-usual salary to star in November, to play a tycoon (!) who falls in love with a dying woman. Note to screenwriters: Better make him an e-tycoon, they're much younger than your average CEO, you know.

Then, it's (hurrah) on to the Matrix sequels, with a mammoth back-to-back 250-day shoot.

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