Girl About Town (UK), February 2, 2004

What are you like?

Prairie Miller asks, 'So Keanu, how come you keep so young? Is there a picture in the attic or something'?

When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman

It's hard to imagine any woman finding it difficult to fall in love with Keanu Reeves in a movie. But that's exactly what happens when Diane Keaton seems less than thrilled by his character's charms in Nancy Meyer's Something's Gotta Give. The normally reticent actor was happy to discuss the issues raised in the movie, and answer probing questions about what really turns him on, romantically speaking. He sported a layered look, dressed in a charcoal suit and a brown stretch pullover underneath, topped by a black scarf draped around his neck in a rather cold hotel room. Thin, lanky and rosy-cheeked, Keanu had a touch of five o'clock shadow early in the morning, taking the edge off his still very boyish looks at the age of nearly forty. Keanu also has the cute habit of scratching his hair vigorously when he needs to collect his thoughts about especially probing questions.

In Something's Gotta Give, you play a guy infatuated with Diane Keaton. Can you understand the appeal of older women in real life?

Can you elaborate?
To elaborate on the beauty of an older woman? Gosh, I guess it's uh... I don't know. Life experience. Yeah. Let's start with that.

But our culture?
I guess there's a kind of shorthand aspect to life that does celebrate a youth culture, you know? And the business of culture, I guess, kind of celebrates and takes advantage of that. But I think in life that certainly isn't the whole truth.

Why do you think your character was so insanely attracted to Diane Keaton?
I think when he's introduced to Diane Keaton's character, Erica Barry, first he's like, 'Wow, you're Erica Barry'? And has enjoyed her work, her plays. And then I think one of those things happens in life. He just kinda has that feeling, you know? And after that, in the scene where you see him ask her out, just before he asks her out, he's watching her on the telephone call. And he's just enamoured. I guess you see her smile and see her move, and he's speaking with her. And he's just falling for her. Just her beauty, I guess. And eventually who she becomes, and who she is. You know, just a beatutiful, interesting woman.

Your character in the film has supreme confidence in himself. Where do you get your confidence?
From within! You know, there's a book I read, The Confidence Within. No, I'm kidding. Gosh, where do I get my confidence... You know, I was playing a character, and I thought of him as being really well rounded and grounded. I thought I was the obligation of the role. And in that, I guess, just kind of relaxing and being comfortable with who the character was.

How was it being the straight man in the movie, and not getting all the jokes around you?
Well, I have a couple of jokes. I hope I do! It's like, do you take Viagra? But yea, to a certain extent in the film, I'm the straight guy. Which was great, actually. I mean, I thought of the character, you know, he's a cardiologist. He's an emergency room doctor. He's dealing with matters of the heart, he's a care-giver. So for me, I tried to, you know, do whatever I needed to do. I had to support whoeever I was with. You know, Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. And my feeling was to do whatever it took to pay the straight guy, and to set it up, you know?

Well, that said, did you talk with real doctors?
Yeah, I did, it was great, actually. I went to the The South Hampton Hospital. And the people there were really gracious with their time. And I went to some ER rooms, and met with one cardiologist. And I spoke with my own GP about bedside manner and stetheoscope techniques, and working with a pressure cuff and stuff like that. You know, trying to figure out what my life would be like. Yeah, bedside manner, and doctoring things!

What were Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton really like, and did you feel a little starstruck?
Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson are remarkable people, and very gracious. I came onto the set later in the production and they were very welcoming. You know, they're people with great humour and sensitivity. So it was a really enjoyable experience.

Well, can you ever allow youself to just be a fan?
When I met them, it was like, 'I'm really glad to meet ya'. And yes, it was great to be able to communicate my enjoyment of their work. But then once you go to work, you go to work, you know? And they're great, they're great.

Did you get a real sense of their greatness during scenes where you were working with them?
Well, I felt like... the thing that was surprising was, 'Wow! I didn't know you were that good! Because they really are. I mean, they've been acting for a long time. And so well. It's just the ease and grace and the heart that they bring to it. The work that they put in to make it look effortless is remarkable.

Did you learn anything from them?
Yeah, they really have a comfort. And a knowledge of the camera and storytelling. And a way to reveal their characters. And the way they create their characters, you know? They're seamless.

You look amazingly youthful over the years. How do you stay so young?
I have a picture in the attic! Um, no. That's just something, I don't feel that young. I'm thirty-nine.

So how will you celebrate your fortieth?
I'm either going to be really alone in the middle of a desert, or I'm going to have an outrageous party!

At the end of the day, it's journalists who will have to sell the film for you...
Um, excuse me? How are you going to sell the film for us?

Well, through the relationship with your fan base.
Oh, I see...

So I'd like to have you say it in your own words; why should people see this film?
Hmm... Something's Gotta Give is a remarkable romantic comedy in the best tradition of a Hollywood romantic comedy. I think we see remarkable performances by Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, Frances McDormand and Amanda Peet. And with a script and direction by Nancy Meyers that is touching, moving, life affirming and intelligent. And funny as all heck!

What's a romantic place for you? Is it Paris, like it is for you in this movie?
That's not bad! Paris is pretty good.

But is it a place, is romance defined by a place? Or is it something else? How would you define it?
Defining romance... I think people, when they do have an intimacy as well as sharing and looking inside, they enjoy a sense of place to the outside. You know, I think it's a kind of relating to the world. It's about, here we exist. We exist together, and sometimes a place really helps us to mark that and in a way, to enjoy that.

You haven't done a comedy in a while. Why now?
I haven't had the chance to work in a romantic comedy for a while. It's a genre I really like. You know, it's fun to fall in love! It's great to deal with matters of the heart like that, and to perform in that. But yeah, you're right. I haven't had a chance to participate in a romantic comedy for a while.

Is that a different kind of acting experience?
No. With any moment, you have to be sensitive to what you're doing. And in terms of comedy, yeah. You know, it brings along its timing, the touch or the level of how you want to play something. So...

Is that something you look for, not necessarily to lighten it up but an opportunity to give a human touch to a character?
Yes! And it's in the script. I mean, that's something, that line that you speak about is in the script. It's a touch that the directors and the writers wanted to have. And it's fun to do that, to juxtapose.

What does Something's Gotta Give mean to you?
Because the title seems to mean something different for each character, I play a character named Dr. Julian Mercer. And the title of the film is Something's Gotta Give. And I think for my character, he gives of himself. He gives his heart.

He gives a woman up too.
Yes, and he gives the woman up! But you know, he sees that she's in love with another person, another man. And he respects her. And women choose.

Oh, do you really think so?
I know I keep getting fought on that! I keep saying that women choose, and it's up to women. And women say no! And I guess I'm wrong. See, it's the women again, they know! Right? So they say, No. I'm sorry. I just keep talking, Excuse me!

Your character is such a romantic guy. Are you a romantic guy?
On good days! Yeah.

So does love do that for you?
Unleash the balloons? Sky writing? That kind of thing! You know, I haven't done the sky writing yet. But maybe a thousand balloons was too much. I don't know!

Have you ever dated an older woman?
Um... I've never 'dated' an older woman.

Did that sound loaded? No, I'm sorry, I shouldn't say that!

What music do you listen to, and has it influenced you?
I still enjoy the music that I connected to in my youth. But since then, it's kind of broadened out just through experience and time. But you know, I was lucky. When I was this young kid, I started to hear The Ramones and Violent Fennes and The Clash. And bands like The Exploited and Joy Division. And then my world got a lot better. Yeah. It seemed like at that time in my life, I kind of found a music to dance to. And something that I could vibrate at the same pulse with. Something that I could experess myself with. I'll share a really good day about that, with you. One of the people who introduced me to some of this music was this woman named Penny. And I remember my first car had these speakers that I could take out of the back and stick on my roof. And I remember one night when we went out, I guess I was about seventeen, we went out to this park and just put the speakers on the top of the car. And the bands that I spoke about were playing, and we were just dancing in the night. That was fun. That was a good day!

So which music has impacted upon you the most?
I think some of the artists that I just mentioned, and being connected to it. You know, it's the first music that I really related to, and still kind of do. And also John Coltrane. Yeah.

How is Constantine going?
We're about six weeks in. And it's going pretty well, I think.

Are you shooting in Compton?
Shooting in Compton! Uh, duck! No, we've been in Long Beach, we've been in downtown Los Angeles. And on the Warner lot.

What are you bringing to the character?
His anger!

Do you have any anecdotes?
Uh, what kind?

Well, something that's happening on the set.
I'm working with a director named Francis Lawrence. It's his first feature. He's an accomplished video and commerical director and he's bringing a real kind of film noir sense to it. Which I think is really suitable for the character and the story.

What kind of source material is a comic book character?
I'm really, for myself, it's working on the script. And in terms of referencing the graphic novels, I've sourced them a little bit. I look more at the shapes and the drawings and character. And kind of just connected to his kind of primal point of view, I guess.

Are you signed for several films?
If I'm lucky! And what I mean by that is, we have to make a film and we have to tell a story. If people respond to the story, certainly through the experience right now, then I'm really enjoying the character and hopefully we'll make a good film. That's really going to dictate whether we continue telling stories about it or not.

Is acting for you more work than play?
Well, any time you have a moment where you have to wake up at a certain hour, I think that's like work. And then once you wake up and you get a chance to go play, you don't mind that you had to set your alarm.

What kind of roles are you looking for, and what gets you interested in a script?
I guess just how I react to the story coming from the script, and how I feel about it.

Is there a particular kind of character that grabs you?
Well, I'm hoping personally to be able to do different kinds of roles and different kinds of films. So I don't really limit that. I'm just kind of trying to find good material wherever it comes from. And whatever shape it takes.

Do you think you might like to be a knight, or be in a western?
Both of those sound like fun. But I haven't really... maybe I should! Maybe I should go to my agents and say, 'Find me a western'! And they'd probably say, thank God, we know what to get the guy now! But I haven't done that. It's more like, 'Find me a director'!

Is being a celebrity ever a handicap for you?
In terms of being on the street, it's important to me to be able to move in the world and luckily I can. There are certain moments in time, like sometimes before a premiere or something, it seems to intensify in terms of people following you and taking your pictures as you walk out of your car. Which is a drag.

Do you remember the first time you got recognized?
Yeah. The thing that just popped into my head, I remember one time, I was going to the cinema in Westwood in Los Angeles. And I went into an ice cream store with a friend of mine. It was a hot summer day, going to the movies. And the guy gave us our ice cream and I went to pay. And he said, 'No man'. I was like, 'What'? And he was like. 'River's Edge'! And I was like 'Wow, okay, yeah, River's Edge. Thanks, man'. And he gave us the ice cream for free. So I said 'Are you sure, man'? And he goes, 'River's Edge'! So I said, 'Yeah, River's Edge'!

Was Matrix satisfying or disappointing for you?
I had the most amazing time working on those beautiful films. And some of the best days of my life as a person, and an actor. And I think thye're remarkable films.

Were you surprised that the fans were so divided?
I didn't know they were. But I think people are divided about any work of art, or actually anything, you know? But I hope that people enjoyed them and get something from them. And if you didn't the first time, watch them again. Because they deserve a second viewing.

Aren't you an orthodontist in your next film?
I am, I'm an orthodontist! It's so weird, sticking your hands in someone's mouth with gloves on.

What about Dogstar?
What are we doing? We're hibernating.

Article Focus:

Something's Gotta Give


Something's Gotta Give , Constantine , Matrix, The , Dogstar

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