Keen on Keanu
The Matrix films have raised the bar for extraordinary physical action and stunt choreography. Talk about the training.
KR: The whole thing was twenty-two months for me, basically. It started with four months of basic training, which is two hours of stretching in the morning, around an hour and a half of kicking, then specific exercises. Maybe you're focused on spinning round-house kicks or a jump sidekick. Then after lunch you'd warm back up and stretch a little bit more. If there was no choreography to learn, it would basically be weapons or some more kicking for me. Then it would be weight training at the end of the day. Then I'd go home. I spent a month working on the fight with the Smiths. I worked for about three weeks with twelve stuntmen; motion-capture took another three weeks. That would be one fight.
Producer Joel Silver said you became so good at martial arts that you could beat Jet Li.
KR: Jet Li would throw me around like a rag doll... He and I would talk and we'd sit down and have a beer and a good laugh.
Will you continue with martial arts?
KR: I don't know. I enjoy it. It's really good clean fun... primal fun.
Can you tell us how you were directed?
KR: (Appears bored/perplexed) They gave me certain things in the beginning, or if I wanted to look at some Schopenhauer... or some Hume or go back to Nietzsche or whatever, [to go ahead], but otherwise it was just be in the moment...
What does the concept of destiny mean to you?
KR: Destiny is one of those tricky words. It's one of those aspects that's like a particle in a wave. Maybe the wave has a destination but the particle doesn't quite know what the destination is and yet it's making itself a part of that wave.
The Matrix uses machines metaphorically. How do you relate to machines?
KR: Well, I know I love my motorcycle. (Slight smile)
What about computers?
KR: I personally don't have one yet, but I always ask friends who do if they could look something up for me..., so I just need to find some time to get one.
What is your view of Hollywood?
KR: Hollywood. ..is a place that is a place that can generate great resources to filmmakers, which can allow them to create worlds. For me, it's been a great experience to be able to play in that world and [convey] the vision that the brothers [Matrix writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski] had and that Warner Brothers and other producers generate the resources to help us create...
Two arduous years of shooting the Matrix trilogy did you get lonely?
KR: Work hard. Play hard.
What's your greatest gift and what's the greatest gift you ever received?
KR: I have no idea what my greatest gift is. The greatest gift I've received would probably be the love of my family.
You're not a materialistic person, so how do you like to spend your money?
KR: That's a personal question. (Frowning) I enjoy a good suit. I have a nice car. I like nice Bordeaux.
What are your thoughts on the world situation today?
KR: Often times it's been politically frustrating, scary, just trying to understand what's happening and wishing that there was more concord between people... I remember feeling that in the early 90s there seemed to be a real sense... of the global village and the global community.