by Dayna D'Itria
Whoa. After a slew of unremarkable TV roles, Keanu Reeves started off his career with a role in Dangerous Liaisons, and cemented his name with his role as Ted Logan in the legendary Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
Since then he has appeared in more than 25 films, not the least of which include My Own Private Idaho, Dracula, Speed, The Devil's Advocate and The Matrix.
He discusses his latest film, The Replacements, and the erroneous perception people seem to have of him, with iCAST.
iCAST: Now you never played football as a kid, how was it to play a quarterback in this film. Did it reaffirm your masculinity?
KR: I really enjoyed it. I was the first on board with the picture, so I felt that in working with Howard Deutch there was a real collaborative environment. We worked a lot on the script. And then as the other actors came on board, I felt like I was on point, you know, I was the medium, the actors' kind of collective voice. I represented that, sometimes, to Howard, especially during rehearsal.
There was a part of me that wanted to be first on the field and last off the field.
I really wanted to have an authenticity -- I wanted to look like a quarterback, I felt it was really important that when you looked at Shane Falco you went, "Oh yeah, he's a quarterback."
iCAST: Gene Hackman said, when he signed on, that he really wanted to work with you. There's a compliment for you.
KR: Yeah, that was a really good day when he said yes to this picture. I think that he's fantastic in the film, and he brings a real base to the film. I think every time he's on screen he allows the other comedy to happen, because he's so real.
iCAST: Howard Deutch [Replacements director] was telling us that he thinks you're severely underrated as an actor. Do you feel the same way?
KR: Yeah. I've never felt that from my peers, but otherwise --
iCAST: Well, you seem to excel at more physical roles.
KR: Even in a film like The Last Time I Committed Suicide?
iCAST: That was a physical role.
KR: That, for me, is a way into a character, I guess.
iCAST: Do you feel more like a leading man or a character actor in that regard?
KR: I really want to be able to do both. I did a film recently with Sam Raimi, called The Gift, and I play a wife-beater in it. So that was a great opportunity for me to not be the leading man character and get to do some character work.
iCAST: Who takes the beating in the film?
KR: Hilary Swank. It was fantastic to work with her, she's fantastic, and yeah, I play her husband, and I get to hit her.
iCAST: Was that tough?
KR: Yeah, yeah.
But it was a really rewarding artistic experience, and hopefully it will be a good film.
iCAST: There are some slobbering crackpots out there who say violence in films like The Matrix have a bad effect on kids. What do you say to that?
KR: I guess it had too much of a good story. Let's get rid of all that conflict, let's get out of that conflict and let's start nurturing. What is there to nurture? There's no conflict. And everybody was happy and the birds sang. I don't know. I mean, I know what you're saying in terms of gratuitous violence, but I think a soap opera is as violent as some kind of action picture, and it's violent in terms of corruption or a distortion of existence.
And I don't know the answer, and I don't know if there's one way to avoid this, but hopefully we're not going to be too violent or repressive of each other. I mean, I feel it, but I'm not going to be beholden to it, because you have to show the dark side as well. I mean, hopefully not in too gratuitous a manner.
iCAST: Have you started working on The Matrix's sequels yet?
KR: No, no.
They're scheduled to start training in November and scheduled to start filming in late March or April.
iCAST: Are you nervous about doing two sequels?
KR: I'm really excited about it, and I think -- in speaking with Larry and Andrew Wachowski, the directors and writers -- I'm really excited by their ambition and their scope.
iCAST: Do you still have that fear, when you wrap a movie, that you're not going to get any more work? Because a lot of actors always talk about that.
iCAST: Even at this point in your career?
KR: Yeah, sure.
iCAST: But that's what keeps you going, right?
iCAST: All right, I'm going to have to ask you to justify Chain Reaction.
KR: Well, I got to work with Morgan Freeman, which was fantastic. Initially, I loved the story, but then when I got there it was a different movie.