Keanu's big play
by Craig Kopp
Keanu Reeves as a quarterback? A professional quarterback?
(As seen from this article's opener written four years previously, Mr. Kopp has not changed his writing style, and Keanu continues to surprise him. - Ani)
Hey, the guy who became famous going on "excellent adventures" as the "Bill" in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," (Well this definitely ain't a Tedfish. - Ani) has also played a bus-stopping cop in "Speed," a surfing FBI agent in "Point Break," the kick-boxing "chosen one" in "The Matrix," so why not pro football?
Well, sort of pro football. Reeves plays a washed-up college star who's called upon to sub for striking pros in "The Replacements." But, on any level, football is still a contact sport.
"My respect for the game - I mean, I loved growin' up watching it and I enjoy watching football - but, we did a three-week camp before and we got into two-a-days and stuff like that - it's physically tough," said Reeves. "And, I remember one of the linemen came up to me and said, 'Man, we gotta get a bigger ice tub, can you get us a bigger tub'? So, I got us a bigger tub. And, by the second week, I knew what he meant. I was like, 'Ahhhh, ice.' "
Not that the star playing the star quarterback ever took any real licks - not even from extras who might have wanted to give the movie guy a little taste of real football.
"No they didn't," Reeves said. "All the guys were really cool about that, I think, probably, because if they took me out, there'd be no work. I had no replacement, you know what I mean. I probably did, really, in the real world, but they were kind enough to say that I didn't. Not that that's the only reason that they didn't. The guys were really nice."
And, trying to be the consummate actor, Reeves said he even went looking for a couple of hits, just to get his head into the game.
"There was this one guy, affectionately called 'Pig,' a very serious man, a very beautiful man, and I said to him, 'Hey Pig, man, just give me a little bit, give me a little bit, come on, I just want to know what it feels like,' And he said, 'You don't want that man, you don't want it.' "
"The Replacements," loosely based on the NFL players strike in 1987, is all about really wanting to play the game, instead of really wanting to make the money playing the game at this level can bring.
But, Reeves thinks even those players who seem money-centered still, at bottom, love the game.
"Get as much as you can because you don't know how long you'll play? Yeah, maybe. But, I think everybody who plays, you can't do that if you don't love football. Anyone who says that players don't - you can't go through that from what little I've seen and the stories I've heard - it's just the most devastating game I've every seen, I mean, the sacrifice it takes to play that game."
And smarts, too. When asked what it was like to go from a high-tech movie like "The Matrix" to a low-tech football movie, Reeves questioned how low-tech professional football really is.
"I don't know. It's not as low-tech as baseball - catch the ball, hit the ball, throw the ball," said Reeves. "It's not low-tech. I mean the systems and the techniques that I was witness to, even in just a film - we had, what, 52 plays and what linemen have to do and all the mechanics and symmetry that are activated... it's not simple. But, at the end, I guess you've got to hit someone."