Game on for Reeves
Keanu goes from Matrix hacker to Hardball coach. Is Superman role next?
by David Spaner
TORONTO -- What is Keanu Reeves doing at the Toronto International Film Festival?
His new baseball movie Hardball, which opens this Friday, is hardly the stuff that excites festival programmers.
The film isn't in the festival program but as an indication of just how big this event has become, a junket was staged in Toronto during this week to take advantage of the media in town.
If that sounds a little odd, it's no more so than the thousands of actual festival participants desperately seeking someone to take advantage of this week.
So, Reeves was flown in from Australia, where he's shooting The Matrix sequel, to meet the press for a couple of days.
It is not Reeves' first visit to the festival. He is Canadian, remember, and lived in Toronto for nearly a decade. His big festival year was 1984.
"Yeah it was great," Reeves says, seated on the 24th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, high above the festival frenzy going on in this section of Toronto.
"For me, it was a time when I was interested in seeing films. I was going to acting classes. I think I saw like 20 films. I might have gone to a couple of films the next year, then the next year I think I left."
And he's barely looked back, starring in such fare as Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Speed, The Matrix, Little Buddha and Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Reeves' performances have not always drawn positive reviews. What does he think of the negative buzz that sometimes surrounds his work?
"I tend to disagree with it but that's just my way," he says. "I think anyone in terms of a critical aspect if that's what they're doing then however they feel about something is fine. I can agree or disagree, they can agree or disagree."
Hardball director Brian Robbins saw something in Reeves -- or not in him -- that prompted him to cast the actor.
"The studio told me that Keanu Reeves read the script and really was interested in it and I wasn't really thinking of Keanu Reeves to be honest at the time," Robbins says. "And we had a meeting and he really loved the character and he was into the material.
"It was really interesting 'cause I saw something in him -- Keanu Reeves the guy -- that was what I wanted in the character. I felt like he's a guy who sort of has this little void in him. Like a guy sort of looking for something, which is what the guy in the movie is all about."
In Hardball, Reeves is a hard-drinking gambler who finds redemption coaching a kids' baseball team in a Chicago ghetto.
"I don't really consider hardball a baseball film," Reeves says. "I think much more it's about play and cultivating a place for kids to play."
These days, Reeves' mind is on the next Matrix.
"It's much more demanding than the first one in terms of the aspirations of what they want me to be able to do physically and emotionally. It's a much broader emotional picture," he says.
"I'm just working on The Matrix until I think June, then I'm an unemployed actor."
But there is one job he may be suited for. Plans are in the works for a new Superman feature and now that he's established as an action figure, wouldn't this Reeves be the logical heir to 1950s' Superman George Reeves and 1970s' Superman Christopher Reeve?
"Yeah, Superman. Clark Kent. I wonder if I'll get a proposition. No one's approached me yet."