This Time, Football Is Keanu's Speed
His Latest Movie Is 'The Replacements'
Very few actors are able to juggle drama, action/adventure and comedy, with big box-office results. Keanu Reeves has scored with them all.
On Friday, he hits theaters with his latest, the football comedy The Replacements. CBS News Early Show's Mark McEwen recently sat down with Reeves to talk about his hits and misses.
When pro football goes on a strike, team owners are forced to bring in the replacements. Keanu Reeves plays Shane Falco, the new quarterback looking for redemption.
"I've always thought of him as a fairly noble character," says Reeves. "He's a professional. He was a professional athlete who had a disastrous Sugar Bowl and a disastrous first two years in the NFL. It's this guy who needs a second chance."
In the movie, Gene Hackman, who plays coach Jimmy McGinty, says, "You know, winners want the ball. You gotta have heart. And I see something in you. You just need to trust yourself and trust it to come out."
He says it was "such a great honor" to work with Hackman. "I think he's one of the finest actors ever," he adds.
Reeves himself worked hard to prepare himself to play the part of a quarterback. "The production set up a three-week camp before we started to film, and it was like learning the plays," he recalls. "I never played football. So, for me, it was an introduction to the game, to the team, to what someone goes through in a day for training."
He recalls a different kind of training, as a young actor, when he worked with John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons.
"I remember walking on the set the first time," says Reeves. "I didn't have the benefit of rehearsal. And I was so scared. And I was just watching John be so relaxed, just so relaxed and focused. And I was like, 'Yeah. That's what I got to do.' If you don't know how to relax…you just close up. There's nothing. You don't express anything. And for acting, that's not good. That's not good."
Reeves scored a major hit recently with The Matrix, and he will star in two sequels.
"I had an exceptional time making that picture, and I think it's an exceptional film, and I am honored, being a part of it, you know," he says. "And I'm looking forward to doing the next two. You know, it's gonna be a year and a half for me. It's not often that you get to be in such a well-received picture… As long as it doesn't pigeonhole me, I don't mind."
FAST FACTS ABOUT KEANU REEVES
- Born Sept. 2, 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon. Keanu was named after his great-great uncle. His Hawaiian name means, "cool breeze over the mountains."
- His mother, Patricia, is British and his father, Samul Nowlin Reeves, is of Hawaiian-Chinese descent. They separated when Keanu was a child.
- Reeves moved at an early age with his mother and his younger sister, Kim, to New York City, where Patricia met her second husband, Paul Aaron, a film and stage director.
- The family eventually moved to Toronto, where Reeves attended several schools before dropping out at age 17.
- He developed a passion for acting and hockey and won a bit part for Rob Lowe's hockey drama, Young Blood. Reeves moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting.
- In 1986, he landed a role in River's Edge, and soon after, he got a small part in the film Dangerous Liaisons with John Malkovich and Glenn Close.
- 1989 was the year that Reeves was launched into stardom with Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
- In 1991, he starred in My Own Private Idaho, directed by Gus Van Sant. Over the next two years, he worked with Francis Ford Coppola in Bram Stoker's Dracula and with Bernardo Bertolucci in Little Buddha.
- 1994 proved to be a very profitable year for Reeves with the box office hit Speed. The following year, People magazine chose him as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world.
- In 1997, he worked with Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate and, in 1999, his role in The Matrix earned him an MTV Movie Award, a Blockbuster Entertainment Award, and a new shelf-life as an action star.
- In his spare time, Reeves records and travels with his band Dogstar. He also enjoys ballroom dancing, riding his 1974 motorcycle, horseback riding and surfing.
Reeves starts filming The Matrix sequels in the spring. They'll be released in 2002 and 2003.