Cosmopolitan (Spain), November 2000
Keanu Reeves - a shy exhibitionist
(Translated from Spanish, translation edited by Anakin McFly)
He is rich, famous and handsome (this is obvious) but also shy, rarely eccentric. An enigma that increases his appeal even more... or so say his fans.
by Jan Janssen
Keanu Reeves is a rich vagabond of the world. And to prove it: he lives in a suitcase (his wealth he distributes between friends and relatives) and he does not have a fixed address preferring to sleep in hotel rooms, whiling away the hours, or touring with its rockband, Dogstar. When he does not work, one of his favorite pastimes consists of spending time in the club Chateau Marmont of Los Angeles, playing chess with his computer and smoking compulsively to fight stress. At first sight, we'd say that Keanu takes his life with a quite peculiar determination, trying to make sense out of that abundance of contradictions in which he seems submerged.
It does not seem either that what happens in Hollywood impresses him much. In fact, during the running of one of his last movies, The Replacements (in Spanish, "The Substitutes"), the protagonist of The Matrix rejected an enormous and luxurious caravan provided to him by the studio. Normally, any star that makes 15 million dollars per movie demands that their trailer be as big as a palace. But Keanu does not play that game. "I like the normal things," explains the actor, on the verge of confronting 18 months of filming the two sequels of The Matrix. "I spoke with the producers, they took the original trailer away and gave me one the same size as that of the others... I am not a person who needs much space or comforts. Give me a sofa, a table, mineral water and some fruit and I will be happy."
In The Replacements, Keanu Reeves plays a mediocre American football player who is offered the opportunity of a lifetime when a star strike forces the football team to recruit substitutes. Preparing himself for the role, Keanu increased his weight by almost 15 kilos of pure muscle (he measures 1.85) and followed a rigorous training lasting six months with the purpose of learning to play rugby like a professional.
From another planet
It is certain that this actor of 35 years has the reputation of "living on another planet", but at the moment he has his feet firmly planted on the Earth. He thinks that his star status is absurd because in his opinion, actors are not specially worthy people of admiration. It flatters him that the public likes his work, although he does not see himself as an idol to adore. Indeed, all agree that he never tries to be the center of attention.
Today we are seated in a Manhattan café. Keanu wears an elegant Armani suit - I suppose for the occasion - and speaks with a surprising amiability and a candor for a person who always has kept his life under key. Something in him has changed...
Cosmo: You were training very hard for The Matrix. It is comparable to the physical training you went through for your character in The Replacements?
Keanu Reeves: The two were very hard experiences. When I signed the contract for The Matrix I knew nothing of martial arts, so I went to kung fu classes to learn the basic movements, the blows, the kicks... In the case of The Replacements, at least I knew some football. But the training was still hard. My body hurt to the point that I kept six bags of ice in the refrigerator to use on my shoulders and knees. For a little while I was taped (?) and all the players of the line jumped on me (??? bad translation). Inevitably, I injured both feet...
Cosmo: Why did you accept doing a movie about second rate players?
K.R.: This is the story of a group of men who were never able to fulfil their dream: playing in the great leagues. They were a handful of mediocre, small players with the desire but not the talent to achieve the best. I identify myself with the spirit of the loser, the man to whom the majority of people view as a loser, but he goes and is able to show them that he can yet. In fact it is the history of personal redemption.
Cosmo: Your salary for this movie was 12 million dollars. It has been published that for the sequels of The Matrix you will receive 30. Does money complicate your life?
K.R.: Clearly no. I care for some people close to me, I invest and I make sure that my family is not in need of anything. But most of my income goes directly to the bank. I do not need much except for travel and if I want to buy a bottle of the best Bordeaux. The money is used for that. It is pleasant not to have to worry about the rent or bills, but, as the saying goes, money does not give you happiness, although it helps to buy the freedom to live life as you want.
Cosmo: Does it worry you what the public thinks of you? If they like or dislike your work?
K.R.: Yes. It always matters to you what they think. For that reason I am thankful, because the reactions of people have given me opportunities that I would not have had my work not worked well at the box-office. In addition, logically, thanks to it my paycheck increases, although I swear to you that that is the last thing I think about. I could live centuries with what I have earned until now (smiles).
Cosmo: Would you like to have a lifestyle that's, let's say, "normal"?
K.R.: Of course. No, no private airplane, no bodyguard... I travel light. Just me and my suitcase against the world (laughs).
Cosmo: We know that you prefer to live in hotel rooms rather than have your own home. Why is that?
K.R.: I like the idea of having a home with all my things, but life has taken me down another road. I work a lot so I don't need a house. In addition, there is something within me that enjoys the fact of being able to move about freely and not have material objects to tie me to a place. I never planned to live this way. But I believe that if I had a big house I would feel guilty, it's not me. It's destiny.
Cosmo: You still play with your rockband Dogstar. I have heard that in Japan you are popular.
K.R.: Yes, to date we have visited Japan four times and we have many fans there. People come to see Keanu Reeves: they come to hear the music of the group and they even know the lyrics of the songs. I like the spontaneity, the contact with the public. There is much beauty in it. It is a feeling different from what you feel when acting in a film: in movies, the reaction of the public comes much after the performance.
Cosmo: Why do we get the impression that you like roles that require great physical effort (according to the newspapers), like The Matrix and The Replacements?
K.R.: It is peculiar, because I never set out to be an action hero. But now I realize that the more physical effort is required of me, the more comfortable I feel. I like to take myself to the limit, although I leave the dangerous work for the specialists.
Cosmo: Over the years you have become a bike collector. Do you still like speed as much as you did when you were younger? (the actor had his spleen removed after a traffic accident).
K.R.: Even more. To leave on the motorcycle, with no preset course, is, I don't know... you feel free. But I'm very cautious, mainly because of work and being responsible for not ruining a movie because I've been in an accident. Often I say that I have to be calmer, but when you drive a motorcycle, the speed becomes addictive.
Shy and alone
Cosmo: Did you want to be an actor when young?
K.R.: No, I wanted to be an ice hockey player. I was very shy and felt good when skating.
Cosmo: How were you in school?
K.R.: I wasn't in school for long. It had difficulties reading (I am dyslexic) and was not good student. It seemed to me a loss of time.
Cosmo: Were you a rebel?
K.R.: In a certain way. I felt alone, isolated from the rest of people... Of little (myself the little one ????) I learned much; it was my way to believe myself different. But when I turned 15 years I began to act and everything changed. With the interpretation you have the sensation of being part of a team. Just like in sports.
Cosmo: Perhaps it's the reason you identify yourself with the gang of losers in The Replacements.
K.R.: Up to a point. I remember being chosen by my classmates as the "class delegate" to play a joke on me. But, you know what? I was a fantastic delegate!
Cosmo: Do you still you feel different?
K.R.: Sometimes. I don't know. Before I spent a long time worrying about how I was going to fit in the world and what I wanted to do with my life. But now I don't look for "great answers". I have learned that things come to you better if you let the answers simply arrive.
Cosmo: You are happy?
K.R.: More or less. Sometimes I wonder myself why things happen a certain way or why I don't feel so connected with the world as others. Other days I simply submerge myself in the reality and passage of speculations. But at a more personal level always you must face up to difficulties and you must learn to adapt and assume them.
Cosmo: Many critics insist on arguing over your acting ability. They say that you limit yourself to be "a mysterious" presence in your films.
K.R.: Mystery? Go! Good, there are many mysterious things in life. Questions that do not have obvious answers. I believe that now I see everything clearly but there is still a part of me that questions myself, looks for and explores. Part of my existence.
Cosmo: I can't help but finish this interview by asking what the two sequels of The Matrix are about...
K.R.: We will visit the mysterious world of Zion and... that is all I can say to you. You will have to see them.
THE GREAT FAMILY
Born in Beirut, then moved to Australia then Canada where he lived his teenage years
His father, Samuel Nowlin Reeves, abandoned the family when Keanu was young. In 1994, he was sentenced to 10 years of prison for drug possession.
He has 3 stepfathers (one of which is Paul Aaron, theater director) with whom he maintains good relations. He adores his sisters, Kim (horse breeder) and Karina
Years ago it was said that he was enamored with the tycoon David Geffen and rumors had him married with him. Both declared that they didn't know each other
In June of 1999 we learned that Keanu was going to be a father. The mother of the baby was Jennifer Syme, actress. The baby was born dead.
In his sentimental curriculum (interesting way to put it uh?) Sherrie Rose, actress, Amanda De Cadenet, television presenter, and one named Autumn of whom he spoke about.