Keanu Reeves' Excellent Interview
All-around good guy Keanu Reeves plays his second bad guy character in a row in The Gift. First was his stalker villain in The Watcher, and now he plays a wife-abusing suspect in a supernatural murder mystery. I had a chance to talk with Reeves about this latest role, and slip in a few questions about the classics.
Was it your idea to have a beard in The Gift?
I don't quite know how that happened, but it did. I think the genesis of it was I had a beard when I came to see [director] Sam [Raimi] one time and he liked it. One of the things that Sam Raimi wanted me to do was to kind of be more unrecognizable in what he thought classically I would be recognized as. So, I think that's where the beard kind of became "Don't shave."
Is it true director Sam Raimi didn't originally want you to read for this part?
What I know is that one of the producers had the idea for me as the part and then went to my agents and then I got the script and read it and then they told the idea to Sam and Sam was like, "Uh, okay. I'll take the meeting." And then I came to him and I remember going to their office and just speaking about the part, telling him what I thought and then it came back to me that he was interested in me playing the part. I wasn't conscious of his reticence when I first met him. I didn't know that he was taking a meeting and I found out quickly. When I was speaking to him, he said to me, "What did they tell you when you came here?" I went, "Oh, I'm auditioning." So I auditioned basically.
What appeals to you about this dark character?
I haven't had the chance to really play a part like that, to play a wife beater. I found the character very dynamic. I always felt that the character, though damaged, had a sincerity to him and an emotional vulnerability to him. I think that's the base of what he is. He's damaged because of suffering something as a kid or not being able to extricate himself from that consciousness. I think in the courtroom, he gets a chance. "I swore I'd tell the truth. Yeah, I'm a wife beater. Yeah, I do that."
Do you use accents like this or The Devil's Advocate to defy perceptions?
I can't say I don't act to change perception, but it's not a reaction after someone's had a perception. To have an accent is to play a part. For me, that's what's exciting about acting. For me putting on an accent is like any physical gesture or psychological gesture. You have to find it to find the character. It's a way into the character. I'll say yes that part of the attraction for me is to be able to play a different kind of part. That's where it starts. Hopefully if I do that, then the aspects of changing perceptions will allow me then to play other parts.
Are you concerned The Matrix will create another typecast like the Bill and Ted movies?
I don't really worry about Bill and Ted anymore, or Neo. I'm always surprised when people forget that you're an actor. I don't want to get pigeonholed, but I think for The Matrix my character doesn't carry that film. It's not like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, the character who carries the film. I don't really have that concern, but I do want to do different things.
Do you mind the Bill and Ted legacy?
I love it.
Any talk of a third?
I always told Alex Winter, who played Bill, that we should do it when we're 40. So, I think when we turn 40 we'll approach it. Just like fat, Vegas boozers. The babes have left us.
How about an audio commentary for the DVD?
Dude, we're totally in a movie!
How are the Matrix 2 preparations going?
Uh, they're fine.
Can you tell us anything about the training your doing?
It's harder and more sophisticated. Instead of one-on-one fights, there's multi-fights and weapons, in addition to what Larry and Andy Wachowski want to do, where they want to put the camera and the environments they want to shoot in.
Can this sequel possibly live up to expectations?
The brothers have a tough gig ahead of them, which is very daunting, but which is good. It helps you do better work, sometimes. I thought they made a great film and there's such a nice vitality to the film if you relate to the picture. A lot of people don't like it, but if you do respond to it, there's a freshness and vitality to it and excitement.