Keanu keeps pain to himself
by Philip Berk
YOU can talk to Keanu Reeves, but don't expect him to say much.
The enigmatic heart- throb is in New York for his latest film, The Replacements.
It is a football movie inspired by the 1997 players' strike which forced team owners to hire has-beens who were willing to cross picket lines, but it is not very good.
For an actor admired for his idiosyncratic choices and independence, it could well be his worst yet.
But nobody asks his opinion of the film, especially after he admits: "I have no qualms about promoting a film I enjoy. If it's a film I feel disappointed with, it's very difficult to do press."
Neither do they ask him about his father, who is still serving time in jail for cocaine possession.
Or the loss of a child that was stillborn last December.
If you did, being notoriously evasive, he would not answer.
Q Don't you owe it to your fans to be more open?
A I don't feel I have any obligation to share my private life with people who enjoy my work.
Q So fame means nothing to you?
A For me it's just someone coming up to you on the street and saying "hi". Hopefully you're famous because people like your work.
Q Does it affect your private life? Aren't there people who pursue you because you're famous?
A I haven't had that experience in an intimate relationship, where I felt I was not being seen for who I was, who I feel I am.
I can't negate any part of me. It's who I am and that's how others have always viewed me. You'd have to be there in order to understand it.
Q How important is love and are you in love?
A At the moment, no. Unfortunately.
Q Are you, as your director describes you, chivalrous?
A I act with chivalry. I have a romantic spirit, and no, I won't tell you any stories...
Q Your director also said you were obsessive. Are you?
A I love acting. I try to do the best I can, so I guess you can call it obsessive.
But I don't know. Obsession to me seems like a term that's kind of psychotic, and I'm not that.
I certainly apply myself. I care, but I'm not obsessive.
Q How did you feel about The Matrix winning four Oscars this year?
A I was really happy for everyone.
I remember when I first met the Wachowski brothers a couple of years ago, they showed me this eight-second shot.
To see that sequence projected at the Academy Awards, it was an incredible journey for me.
And then to have them win for Best Editing, Sound Editing, and Special Effects, it was great.
Q You turned down US$15 million (S$26.1 million) to do the sequel for Speed. Yet you're embarking on a sequel to The Matrix. Why?
A The script. Before I committed I had to know what the brothers intended to do artistically. Once I found out, I was interested and, thankfully, they were interested in me.
Q Do you have script approval?
A No I don't. It's a situation of trust which I have in them.
Q What themes can we expect?
A Part of the ambition of its directors (the Wachowski brothers) is that there is no summing up. But they're interested in the idea of the infinite and the finite. They told me to go buy some Schopenhauer and some Hume.
I don't know what that meant. Maybe I'll find out in the third film.
Q When does filming start?
A I'm scheduled to start training in November. The ambition is to start filming in late March or April. Work on the special effects began about two months ago, and they'll be working on research and development for half a year before we start.
Q Will all the same actors come back?
A Yes, everybody is set, the entire cast -- Carrie Ann Moss, Lawrence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving and Marcus Chung -- they'll all be back.
Q How do you handle bad reviews?
A I don't have an emotional reaction.
Q Nothing fazes you?
A Of course when you're auditioning for a film and you don't get the part, that can be very frustrating.
Q How do you juggle a movie career with playing in a band? (Reeves plays bass in the "folk thrash" band Dogstar)
A Sometimes it's very frustrating. But when we were shooting Matrix, the guys came to Australia and we did a couple of weekend shows there. When I did Chain Reaction they came to Chicago. I don't really think about it, like it was a choice. I see myself as an actor who loves playing music.
Q Which you have for quite some time now?
A Yeah, the band has been around for about six or seven years.
We just had a record released in the States, so the curiosity factor has lessened.
We certainly have more fans than we used to have because of the touring.
Q You toured in Taiwan. What was that experience like?
A Yeah, we went to Taipei and we had a great time. It was such a different culture for us, it was fantastic. It was fun to play there, and while I was there I worked with Yuen Wo Ping, the choreographer.
The Wachowski brothers had introduced me to his work -- he has such wonderful storytelling and invention in his choreography. Whenever I've watched gongfu films and I've had a favourite, it was always one made by Wo Ping. So when I got the chance to work with him and the people he works with, it was fantastic.
Q What did you learn from him?
A More power. He's always saying: "More power. Release the energy." He was always telling me I could do better.
Occasionally he told me: "It's okay", and coming from him that was an honour.
Q How close are the members of Dogstar? Do you all share the tightness and the camaraderie of football players?
A We really have a tight bond, yes. I love the camaraderie of the band.
Q You've been getting some pretty good reviews recently?
A Oh yeah. We rock. We've been touring now for over four years, and we're coming up with our own sound.
We had a show in L.A. recently, and our friends were saying, "We used to come out to support you, and the free beer," but now people are saying, "We really had a great time. We love your work."
Hopefully you'll dig it. --IPS