Interview of the week: Keanu Reeves
by Karen Butler
Keanu Reeves, star of "The Matrix" and "The Matrix Reloaded," says he feels tremendous satisfaction in knowing he will always be remembered for his portrayal of Neo in the sci-fi blockbusters.
That said, the 39-year-old actor refuses to take credit for the "Matrix" phenomenon, stating the filmmakers created the "Matrix" world and he and his fellow actors simply performed in it.
"If anyone comes up to me, it's about 'The Matrix.' It's always the film and I think all of us characters are really just part of this world of 'The Matrix' that Larry and Andy Wachowski have brought to us... But it's really 'The Matrix.' That's it. We're just part of it," he explained.
Asked when he realized Neo had reached the status of pop-culture icon, Reeves downplays the achievement.
"As an actor you have the role to play," he said. "Neo in 'The Matrix' is an ass-kicking kind of guy. It's just finding that aspect in one's self and meeting it with the character and trying to play the role, so it's pretend, but it's also coming from a source in myself. He's a fun guy to play."
"The Matrix Reloaded," the sequel to the 1999 film "The Matrix," smashed box-office records this month, earning a staggering $151.9 million in its first six days in theaters. Released last Thursday, the movie was filmed simultaneously with the final chapter of the saga "The Matrix Revolutions," due out later this year.
Reeves said filming the two movies at the same time made them feel like one film, one story.
"There really isn't a distinction between the two," he said, pointing out that the films span a short amount of time. "It wasn't like doing a Chekhov play: 'Four years later and now it's winter...' There wasn't that kind of transformation to be junping back and forth to. The timeline of the piece is very short. I believe it takes place over 72 hours, both films."
Filming the two movies together also meant Reeves didn't have to retrain for all those beautifully choreographed, breathtaking fight scenes that are hallmarks of the "Matrix" movies. Part kung fu, part ballet, the actor said the fighting style in the movies is unlike that in any other film.
"It's the 'Matrix' style," Reeves said. "I wanted to have a certain style of fighting in the 'Matrix.' I wanted it to feel physical and visceral, but at the same time to have a kind of style to it because it really is not physically happening, I wanted to have an otherness feeling to it, but I wanted it to still feel physical, like there is physical effort on his face and there is physical impact, but I wanted to have a certain elegance so that there was the aspect of effort, but there is also the aspect of effortlessness to it at the same time. So, that was the kind of style I was trying to create in my depction or in my acting out of the choreography that was developed by the directors."
So, now that he has etched his place in film history, could Reeves ever see himself acting in another comedy like "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" or "Parenthood," or in a period drama like "A Walk in the Clouds" or "Bram Stoker's Dracula"? Reeves says, sure, dude.
"I can't control who hires me," he reasoned. "It has always been my hope as an actor to work in different genres and play different characters."
He then added with a sigh: "I need to do a play. I want to go do a play. Hopefully next year. I'm trying to find a new play. I've got to get back on stage because I love it. I need to. I really want to play as an actor. Just to go through the process as an actor. It's not short segments of acting. It's the whole experience. It's an interactive medium... It's really for me, home. I love it. I love it."