CinemasOnline (UK), December 2003
Keanu Reeves Interview
Q. So what are your feelings now that you're at the end of the trilogy? Are you relieved that you won't have to talk about Neo anymore?
No, I love talking about Neo. I love talking about all things Matrix. It's exciting. It's exciting that Revolutions is coming out and I just had a really great experience making this film. The memories of making them and who I met and how they've made a difference to my life.
Q. Do you think people will associate you with this character like they do with Sean Connery and James Bond?
No, I feel that I'm a part of the Matrix and if there is anything, it's that all the actors are a part of the Matrix. We're just actors performing a piece. And for me, it's not like how I think of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.
Q. Do you like people thinking of you as Neo?
No, I don't really come into contact with it that often. Once in a while I'll meet people on the street and they'll ask me about the Matrix. I always have an answer, whether it's right or wrong doesn't really matter.
Q. At the end, the Oracle says to the little girl something about seeing her at a later time - did you cringe at that because it seems like the Wachowski's are setting up to do another one?
To me, I got something else out of it. I felt like it was more about the idea of Neo than the literal personality or person - and when the architect says, Well how long do you think the piece will last? And she says, 'As long as it will. As long as it can.' And with that, in the cycle of life another hero will have to come along, or someone like Neo that all of these things will perhaps repeat to a certain extent.
Q. So that means there's no end? It's like life, huh? You know what I mean, you come to a place and then at that moment you change. But how you are in each moment develops as well. I don't think it's a cheap shot, like, now we'll do number four. To me, I was....
Q. Would you do it?
There's no room for it.
Q. What has changed in your life from this experience?
I got to learn a lot about wire work and doing action sequences and working with weapons physically.
Q. Were you impressed with yourself that you could do all these physical things?
I was grateful to get a chance and it's a way to participate in the character. If I can do it then you don't have to put the stuntman in, the camera doesn't have to be put farther away, you don't have to edit, you see me perform my role in places where sometimes the actor doesn't. So I feel that the identification of the character maintains the intimacy with the character that you don't get sometimes with a stuntman.
Q. And spiritually?
Spiritually, well, coming out of the experience of making these films it's certainly broadened my aspect of considered life and has influenced that.
Q. While you were working on the two sequels you also had to cope with some serious personal troubles. Can you elaborate?
The first blow came when my sister revealed that she was suffering from leukaemia. I've been spending a lot of time looking after her. Then came some good news - my then girlfriend Jennifer Syme announced she was pregnant. However, after feeling no movement for a while, an ultrasound scan revealed that our child whom we were going to call Eve, had died in the womb.
Q. This must have put a great strain on your relationship?
It did and we decided to break up shortly afterwards. However, after talking through our problems we decided to give it another go, but Jennifer was still struggling to come to terms with Eve's death and she began seeing a doctor for depression. Then, last April , after a night out in LA Jennifer was killed when the jeep she was driving careered out of control and ploughed into three parked cars.
Q. How did you react to such a terrible tragedy?
A I was devastated, of course, and threw myself into my work, and just kept myself to myself. I had an apartment suite at an exclusive hotel, and I didn't much feel like mingling with anybody. I was on a kind of automatic pilot for a while, and I would just turn up, work and then go back to the hotel.
Q. You seem as though you are absolutely exhausted. That must be hard being such a private person...
Well, I'm working on a film right now, so I've been working for a month on a film so tough week in the sense that this is my Sunday and I'm working on a Sunday.
Q. This film addresses subjects about life - did you find answers about life?
So much. I worked with lovely people: Carrie-Anne Moss, such an emotional warrior who tries to understand everything, and Lawrence, he has grace and such understanding about life and Hugo Weaving who's such a gentle soul and the considered life of the Wachowskis and to play this character that ultimately comes with such a positive message and to play such a noble character in the films themselves, are very ethical. I think they're kind of positive and to be a part of that is a great experience and something that you can aspire to and hopefully it's kind of hard once you know something, if you make a mistake in your life emotionally, you become conscious of it. When you do it again you know you're making a choice to be that way and that's when it gets really interesting.
Q. Comparing this to something like the Terminator - is there a similarity: at war with the machines?
I don't know. I guess they could both say that there's a fear aspect of technology.
Q. In real life Schwarzenegger is going into politics - what are your feelings? Well, I wish him all the best. I hope that whatever he does, he brings a better hope to California.
Q. You're always friendly and never say a bad word about anyone - where do you get all this positive energy from?
Q. Really? You never get angry?
Of course I do. I'm very rude sometimes.
Q. Do you remember the last time?
You don't want to know (laughs). But... I don't know...where does it come from? I don't know.
Q. How is your relationship with computers?
Q. Do you have one?
Q. You don't have a computer?
I don't have a computer. I don't post on the internet. I don't have a secret identity. No email.
Q.Can you talk about working with the Wachowskis?
Yeah, well, the way the Wachowskis work and the kind of ethos of the piece, things you have the in-camera live action so you're always generally acting with the other actors in the scene. If not, you'll go to the green screen element whereby they'll either verbally describe as much as they can what is surrounding you or give you an element to look at- whether it's a piece of tape or whatever, something to reference or they'll show you something which is called previsits which is a previsualisation which is generally animated or computer generated animation of a sequence, meaning you'll have characters and they'll show you the camera angles or what the sequence is about so you'll always have some kind of relationship to the piece that you're doing. it's not like, 'Okay, move your hand left. Okay, we got it.' You always know why you're moving your hand left and what the emotional or dramatic or responsibility you place as an actor in terms of gesture.
Q. Fame has to be more unpleasant than pleasant but the upside is that you can do good things for people. What has been one of the best things about it?
There have been many situations that I hope I've helped like friends, family, I've helped build a school, I give money to charities, to lend my voice. I did a voice over for a documentary on global warming. They wouldn't have asked me if I wasn't famous and so if you mean things like that, yeah.
Q. You're 39 - it's your last year in your 30s - how do you feel?
It's terrible, isn't it? (laughs)
Q. How do you feel about turning 40?
I don't know. I remember when I was turning 30 what it was like and it was going to be this big thing and when I turned 30, I thought, 'Oh, It's not so bad.' But I don't know about 40. (laughs)
Q. Has there ever been an alternative to acting?
It's too late for me now. When I was 30, maybe.
Q. Like being a musician for example?
No, I never really considered it. Ever since I was 15 I've always wanted a career as an actor.
Q. They say men don't mature until their late 30s or 40s - does that mean you've reached a new stage in your life where you may be more settled and grounded?
Yeah, if I'm lucky. It would be great to marry but this work means I am on the road a lot. When I'm working, I think only about work. Girls have got close but only very rarely.
Q. Most movie stars hide behind their sunglasses but you can't because of your character - how can you hide?
I try not to hide but I'll still take a secret passage if I have to.
Q. You appear to dislike the trappings of superstardom. How do you like to live?
I get a great kick of riding around on my Norton motorbike and playing with my rock band Dogstar. Simple tastes ...
Q. You now earn something like $20 million per film and on the Matrix sequels a percentage of the profits - what do you do with your wealth?
I have people who look after it. I make sure my family lives well. Most of it just goes straight into the bank. I don't need a lot, except when I'm travelling, and I like to buy a bottle of fine Bordeaux once in a while. It's nice not to have to worry about the rent or paying your bills but, like the cliche says, money doesn't buy you happiness though it does buy you the freedom to live your life the way you want to.