Variety (US), March 5, 2002

'Billy Jack' on way back Reeves revved for next role

After he completes a pair of sequels to futuristic hit "The Matrix," Keanu Reeves is looking to go retro, in the form of "Billy Jack."

Jersey Films and 3 Arts are in discussions with Tom Laughlin to mount a remake of "Billy Jack," the 1971 counterculture hit, with Reeves in the starring role.

Laughlin wrote and directed the original and toplined as the title character, a tough, spiritual Vietnam veteran who's half-Native American. Billy Jack challenged the establishment and championed a group of runaway teens as well as the environment in an Arizona town. A man of few words, he was quick with fists and feet.

Jersey Films partners Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher will produce the film with Erwin Stoff, Reeves' manager at 3 Arts Entertainment. Laughlin also will play a critical role in the production.

The project is expected to be shopped to studios shortly.

The film rights are controlled by Laughlin, who over the years has received numerous remake overtures for a film whose cost-to-gross ratio made it wildly profitable.

It is the first project Reeves has targeted as a potential star vehicle since he immersed himself in the yearlong shoot of "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions," the back-to-back sequels to the hit Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures film. Brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski are directing from their scripts in Australia for producer Joel Silver.

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Billy Jack


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