Keanu Reeves, Man of Many Sports
by Prairie Miller
Keanu Reeves may not have to try too hard when it comes to making a big impression in his movies. But he still likes to nail down the characters he plays as far as getting it real and getting it just right is concerned. Keanu described to PlanetHollywood.com some of the creative extremes he went to for his new film Hardball, when fleshing out the hard drinking compulsive gambler and ticket scalper Conor O'Neill. He also assessed what it was like to immerse himself in some wild ensemble acting with a bunch of very determined kids, who play a ragtag Chicago team of inner city little leaguers...
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: You were seriously into football long ago, with The Replacements. Now you're turning up in a baseball movie. Is there something going on here?
KEANU REEVES: Not exactly. I play a character in Hardball who is a gambler and a ticket scalper. The movie takes place in Chicago. One thing leads to another, and I end up having to coach these kids on a baseball little league team, as a way of paying back the bookies who are after me.
PH: How did the experience of working with kid jocks in Hardball compare to mixing it up with more hard bitten, wackier adult versions in The Replacements?
KR: Oh, it was a lot easier on me. And those kids, they were great in this movie. You know, most of them hadn't acted before, so they were just amazing.
PH: How exactly do you get into character to play a ticket scalper?
KR: Well, I wanted to know more about the behavior of my character, so I looked into that whole lifestyle. You know, like the way he would operate and how he might think or react.
So what I did was, I met with a bunch of bookies in kind of the backroom of a bar. I learned a lot of stuff from them, and they were really nice guys. We kind of just drank and talked about gambling and getting into in debt, stuff like that
Then I met some actual scalpers. And when I thought I knew enough, I went over to some parks, to well, kinda practice scalping some tickets. And if anybody recognized me, I would just admit to being Keanu Reeves, and then... ask them if they wanted any tickets!
PH: How did you do?
KR: I really surprised myself. Like I learned that I was actually pretty good at scalping. I even managed to sell one ticket for a hundred bucks. I felt really good after that.
PH: Do you think you might contemplate a change of profession after all that shady kind of success?
KR: Well, probably not right now anyway.
PH: I guess you wouldn't want to give up movies just when you're really getting into those Matrix sequels right now. How are those going?
KR: Just great. I have to head back to Sidney, Australia to keep working on the two of them.
PH: What can you say about what's going on with The Matrix sequels right now?
KR: Absolutely nothing. Sorry, I can't do that. But then you get to be surprised. I can tell you that the sequels will be released in 2002 and 2003.
PH: How do you film two sequels at the same time anyway?
KR: I try to like think of them as one film that will eventually be split in two, or something like that. And we're not filming in any particular order anyway. It's kind of like we're making both of them at the same time.
PH: What are you up to whenever you can get away from your nonstop schedule?
KR: I mostly play with my band whenever I can. And we had a couple of concerts.
PH: I've been hearing that your worst movie experience ever was The Watcher.
KR: Oh yeah. There's a whole story behind it, that I really couldn't talk about until now. But it involved like somebody forging my signature on the contract. I didn't want to go through the whole mess of getting sued, so I just went ahead and did the movie anyway. It was like I had no other choice.
PH: What's going to happen with the work the late Aaliyah put into The Matrix project?
KR: I really don't know. I'm not even sure what she had finished filming when she died. So I have no idea what they'll decide to do with that footage, if anything.
PH: What's the downside of being a movie star?
KR: The worst part is when people start believing that you really are a character that you're playing. So you can imagine what hell I went through after playing a wife beater in The Gift!