Married to the job
The Star of the Matrix says the sequels to that film are 'my life and my wife'
A few years ago, Keanu Reeves boasted that he had only three possessions that he cared about: two motorbikes and a bass guitar.
These days, he's grown a little more accustomed to the high life - but only in moderation, he insists. 'I have a nice car and I enjoy wearing a good suit. But I tend not to drink too much - there's seeking catharsis in drink, and then there's seeking cirrhosis!
'And I don't drink gin because it makes me crazy. It is the weirdest thing. I'm a happy guy, but I drink two gin and tonics and, all of a sudden, I'm: "Grrrr!" and looking for a fight. I like to live comfortably, but that stuff still doesn't mean all that much to me. The most valuable thing I own would be the love of my family.' His family - English born mother Patricia Bond and two younger sisters Kim and Karina - have always been important to him and have rallied round since the stillbirth last year of his daughter Ava with his then girlfriend, production assistant Jennifer Syme. Keanu's reluctant to air this private grief in public, but he will talk about how much he's learned from the family who supported him through it.
'The backbone of any relationship I've had with any women has been the one I have with my mother and sisters. I learned a lot about women from them and I love them very much. I'm romantic and it's important to me in any dealings with women to act with chivalry.
'Some men aren't like that,' he admits, by way of introduction to his role in the movie The Gift, in which he plays a wife-beater. 'It was very strange for me to do those scenes. It was a very different feeling from pretending to hit a man and I was glad that I was acting and not doing it for real."
However, Keanu's comments about The Gift have already caused controversy. In February, he outraged women's groups when he claimed some women get turned on by beatings. 'I think that's what goes on within spousal abuse - there's a kind of submission that goes on in the female and dominance in the male, which is a turn-on. They call it the circle of violence and there's something the female likes about it,' he was quoted as saying.
Today, he continues his controversial theme, but qualifies his remarks a little. Speaking of his own experience playing out the scenes, he says: 'It was a very powerful thing to feel that kind of physical domination. It brought up some strange emotions. Where there's real spousal abuse, couples will go on and have their best sex after the incident. It's a turn-on, but a corrupt and brutal one."
He's on safer ground discussing his latest role in new film Sweet November. The character he plays could hardly be more different - a born romantic who falls helplessly in love with a call girl played by Charlize Theron.
'I've done some romantic stuff of my own in my day - the flowers, the trips, the gestures. The most romantic thing you can do is something they can't show in the movies. It's to look at the woman and think of something that's just right for her, something she would love or that would make her laugh. Something to show that you've considered her and no-one else."
Off-screen, however, there's not a sniff or romance. 'I'm not in love, unfortunately,' he says. Not that he's had much time to nurture relationships. 'Out of the last 18 months, I've probably worked 14, which is a lot for an actor,'he says.
'I've missed some friends' birthdays, which is a pity, and their kids' birthdays too, which is a real shame. I love acting, I apply myself to it and I do it the best I can, but I'm not obsessive about it. Obsession seems to imply someone who is psychotic, and I don't think I'm that! As well as my work, I have a really tight with a few people, and those friendships are important to me.'
For the moment, his acting seems to be continuing to take precedence. He's committed to move to Sydney for at least a year for the back-to-back filming of the next two sequels to The Matrix.
'It does pop into my head that it feels like a marriage,' he says. 'I'm bringing with me an absolute core of commitment to being there for the movie, to focusing as much as I humanly can on making it the very best it can be. I'll take my phone book with me, so I can call all my friends. But, for a year or more, The Matrix is going to be my life and my wife.'