In the mood
Keanu and Charlize re-team for big-screen romance
by Louis B. Hobson
Three years ago, Keanu Reeves was feeling particularly romantic.
He immediately began searching, not for the right girl, but for the right movie.
The result of his search is Sweet November, the story of a wildly free-spirited woman and the man she lavishes her love and attention on for one month.
It’s a remake of the 1968 film that starred Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley as the most mismatched of lovers.
The updated version has Reeves playing Nelson Moss, a crude, self-important advertising executive, and Charlize Theron as Sara Deever, the kooky animal activist who virtually kidnaps him.
Sara wants Nelson to see just how empty his life really is.
She wants to awaken his repressed romantic nature.
“I was actively looking for a romantic comedy. I hadn’t done one since A Walk in the Clouds. I had a feeling it was time to put a little romance into my career,” recalls Reeves.
His manager Erwin Stoff had purchased the rights to Sweet November years earlier and had a new screenplay by Kurt Voelker.
Reeves liked the project enough to go to Warner Bros. and ask them to let him make it.
Part of the deal was to make Warner’s football movie The Replacements first.
Reeves brought the film to Theron who’d played his wife in The Devil’s Advocate.
“Charlize and I already had a comfort level that I knew would allow us to bring an authentic, intimate investment to the love story.
"It’s not essential for me to have this kind of connection with a co-star.
"We can pretend, fake and simulate. That’s what actors are paid to do, but I’d rather it be authentic and it was with Charlize and me.”
Through the relationship, Sara completely changes Nelson’s life.
“I’ve had relationships that have been very nurturing, but I’ve never had a Sara Deever in my life.
“But I really dig romance. It’s one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever experienced.”
Theron was thrilled Reeves asked her to play Sara.
“It’s not the kind of character Hollywood thinks of me for. You wear enough gowns and get on enough magazine covers and some people think that you can only do glamour,” says Theron.
For most of the film, Sara wears bizarre mismatched outfits.
The first thing she does to Nelson is take away his suits forcing him to wear T-shirts and worn jeans.
“I loved that Sara wears baggy pants and chunky shoes. That’s really much more who I am than the girl on those magazine covers.”
Though Sara does change Nelson, Theron says she shies away from such a notion in her own relationships.
“When you get into a serious relationship, you see the potential and the possibilities in the other person. The most you should ever try to do is make your partner aware of these possibilities.”
For the past three years, Theron has been dating Stephan Jenkins, the frontman of Third Eye Blind.
“Romance is very different for me than it is for Sara. She loves the big moments.
"I prefer what I call non moments. I’m not high on planning. Simplicity is always more interesting and inviting for me.”
Theron does like romantic movies, especially those that give her a big cry.
“I absolutely love Once Around. Holly Hunter falling in love with the older man played by Richard Dreyfuss.
“I saw it when I was 16. I desperately wanted to meet an older man.
“I still think older guys are hot.
“I’ve never been big on age. I don’t place importance on it at all in a relationship. The only place I draw the line is at 17-year-old boys because I’ve been told it’s illegal,” she jokes.
Theron hails from South Africa, where she says her name was a constant source of amusement for classmates.
“No one had heard the name before.
“That’s certainly not the case any more.
“My mother went back to South Africa recently and discovered that every fourth baby girl is being named Charlize.
“I’m starting my own little nation. I guess that’s what comes of having a little celebrity.”