Blue pill or red pill? T-shirts or trench coats?
If it hadn't been for his choice to play the messiah in The Matrix, he would have remained a struggling actor. But Keanu Reeves was ordained to save the world from Marvel and DC's tired comic book heroes. It's his destiny. Consult the Oracle if in doubt.
Q: How much of yourself do you put into the characters that you play?
Keanu: I'm still trying to figure that out, because that's the nature of life. In acting, you're constantly discovering new feelings and thoughts and you're exposing yourself to them. I guess it could be considered a lot of psychotherapy. As an actor, I can tell you a story you'll listen to. And maybe it won't just entertain you; it might also teach you something. I think film has the power to change your life if you want to let it. I've supported myself as an actor for a long time, and I want to keep that in perspective because I really love what I do.
Q: Are you satisfied as an actor?
K: It can still be very surreal. It's easy to become very self-critical when you're an actor. Then you get critiqued by the critics. Whether you agree with them or not, people are passing judgement on you. That can be tough. The fans I meet are mostly nice to me and seem to like my work. But as far as the critics are concerned, I've often been their whipping boy.
Q: Have you gotten used to people wanting to know a lot about you?
K: In the beginning of my career, I wasn't used to being asked personal questions, and I didn't respond very well. After suffering through a lot of gossip and tabloid lies, I learned that if you don't make yourself available, the press can develop a certain animosity towards you. I realized I have to give up some of my privacy. Otherwise, a lot of wild stories will be written to fill the vacuum.
Q: How did you approach the role of Neo as an actor?
K: There is really strong formalism with the style of the film. It's about having strong feelings and very minimalistic, direct behavior to express them. It's a real economy of acting, when you move it's like a Japanese samurai, this is my intention and it's what I do, it's straight and not flamboyant, it's clean acting.
Q: Do you think your career really changed with The Matrix?
K: I feel very grateful with my career and to work with such a great film. It definitely helped me develop a good relationship with Warner Bros. And hopefully I will be able to do more more exceptional films. Besides, I'm busy doing a film with Nancy Meyers with no title for the moment with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton......To go back to your question I feel that The Matrix is bigger than me, and people like it because it's an ensemble of great things, I'm just a part of it.
Q: How was doing the sex scene with Carrie Anne Moss?
K: Well, sometimes it's very uncomfortable to film those type of scenes because you're in the nude and you're in public and being filmed. So we talked about it way before and we figured out a comfortable environment for Carrie Anne and I. We got used to the set, to each other and to the camera and we tried to figure out how to shoot it without being graphic. I trust her and I was eager to do this scene. That scene is about true love, about communion of the souls. It's Neo sharing his love with her but also expressing his fear to her, of losing her. And she is very giving and accepting and it was great to show their strong relationship.
Q: Do you have an action figure of yourself? Is that weird at all?
K: I do, actually. Is it weird? It's funny. My first one was in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. They had some Bill and Ted dolls that were quite hilarious. They also had the Bill and Ted cereal made by Purina, which was even funnier because, I don't know if you recall, but Purina was a famous maker of dog food.
For The Matrix, they have done some figures. Some of them are actually quite extraordinary. There are some that come out of Japan that are really well done. It's funny, but in a cool way, too. When I was in acting school, when I was 16, I didn't think there would be an action figure, but even now at 38 it is still kind of funny. But it's also really fun. I have a friend who collects them so he's like, "When do I get the dolls? Give me the dolls," and I'm like, "OK, man. You can have the dolls."
Q: Do you have a new band?
K: While Dogstar was in hibernation, the drummer, Robert Mailhouse, started and was part of another group. They were looking for a bass player, so I sat in with them and we meshed really well. We've played a couple of shows. We're making some demos. It's called Becky.
Q: Are you really into motorcycles. What kind of bikes do you have? Can you do any tricks on them?
K: The trick is trying to stay on. I have a couple of Norton Commandos. I have a '72 Combat Commando and '73 850. Those are my prides and my joys. No tricks, just, you know, staying on and enjoying the scenery. Going there and coming back - that is, as fast as you can.