Constantine - Keanu Reeves Q&A
by Jack Foley
Q. I believe you’ve wanted to do this movie for some time – apparently they approached you when you were doing The Matrix?
A. Yeah, it was probably about a year and a half or a year from reading the script to production. Maybe even a little longer.
Q. Was it the fact that this is about a guy who lives in a dark place and is therefore an interesting guy for you to play?
A. Yeah, I really responded and liked the character of Constantine. I thought the script was well written and I thought Constantine would be fun to play and he was. I really enjoyed playing him.
Q. Even though he smokes so much?
A. Yeah, well there were some days that were tough with the smoking but I liked this hard edged, hard boiled, fatalistic, cynical, smug but with a heart of gold, trapped, cursed thing.
Q.How much did you have to smoke per day? More than one packet?
A. Well, it would depend on the scene. One packet? (Exaggerated laugh). No, there were some days that were a lot. Yeah.
Q. Did you give up?
A. No. I should though.
Q. Do you smoke more than that?
A. There were times when it got like that. I would surprise myself. I’d come home from a day where it would be quite intense and I’d be like, ‘Well, what’s one more?’
Q. The director said this character was really close to you.
A. Yeah, well, fooled him, huh? [laughs]. Well, I relate to him to a certain extent. I love Constantine’s sense of humour, the humour that’s in the face of extraordinary circumstances.
He’s dying and he gives the finger to the devil, the demon and he’s got this deadpan humour. I liked his anger. I liked that he didn’t like what was going on and he was pissed off. I could relate to that. It reminded me of school. But it was fun to actually learn about him; taking the shapes from the comic book itself and I lowered my register and found rhythms.
I don’t quite have the Constantinian world view but I would relate so I guess that’s what made it so fun for me.
Q. At the end, Constantine says there is a plan for all of us – do you think there is a plan for you – and are you on the right plan for you?
A. I also like the other part of that line where he says "… some people like it, some people don’t." Sometimes I feel like there is.
Sometimes someone will say "…you’re a Virgo with your moon rising and this is your chart.'
And you read it and say, ‘Oh my God. I’ve got so much in common with that chart!’
And I don’t like it. I don’t like it. But it’s true – I think, I know I do, we all have repeating motifs – some are good and some are bad. It’s like, why is this happening?
Q. You don’t want to know the future?
A. No, I don’t. Unless it’s good and then it’s cool. 'You’re going to end up in a very nice place'.
Q. But everything is nice for you?
A. Is that what you think? No, I’m very grateful and it’s really exciting…. I saw the film last week and it’s really great to have worked on something and to have it realised in a way I really enjoyed.
Q. You’re the only person who can ride your bike on Mulholland Drive without a helmet?
A. Well, I only do that when the police aren’t looking. Anyone can drive Mulholland without a helmet – it’s just not getting caught. (laughs).
Yeah, I don’t have a special pass. It’s not like I show the police, 'Hey, I have a special no helmet pass – because I’m fabulous'.
Oh, yeah. I got it from the council of Hollywood. No, I don’t have famous guy passes.
Q. You don’t use that power?
A. I don’t know if I have that power. I don’t know…. with the Matrix films and working with Warner Bros, I think with this project, I just feel that it was at Warner Bros for many years and I came across it and they said, ‘Okay, we’ll do this film with you.’
That’s one of the cool benefits of working or having a film that people like.
Q. It’s a double edge – having starred in the three Matrix films which had phenomenal success, has it raised the bar for people’s expectations? For some of your audience its way above human understanding. They expect that every movie you do in that genre is going to blast them away.
A. Well, I’m sure the producers hope so, but for me, this film represents the best of mainstream popular cinema.
It transports you to another world, it’s well acted, and it’s beautifully aesthetic. It offers what you hope for in entertainment and the thing that I hope for is that even in that you get a little something extra.
It’s not something – like the Matrix films, wondrously you can talk about them after, you can relate to them, you can bring them hope and it’s not like you’re bringing them home – hopefully – where you need to take a shower, that they’re interesting.
So, if that’s the bar that I’ve tried to reach – or try to participate in films like that if I’m lucky. I try to. A film like The Watcher, didn’t quite make it.
Q. You’re working with Sandra Bullock again?
A. It’s fantastic. I’m looking forward to it – we’re doing a romance which is an adaptation called Il Mare. We’re working with an Argentinean director named Alejandro Agresti and I’m looking forward to working with Sandra again. We’ve kept in touch… and I think we’re a cute couple [smiles].
Q. You work with the same actresses all the time… Rachel Weisz.... Are you more comfortable that way?
A. No, oftentimes it’s not up to me. With Sandra, she was on the project first and I don’t know. I would love to act with her again and I don’t think acting with an actress again is… it doesn’t get in the way for me in terms of… when I see actors who work together before, I don’t hold them to past relationships unless it’s Hepburn and Tracey because they had something else going on.
But I think it’s been about eight years since Sandra and I worked together.
Q. You said earlier on that you don’t want to see the future and then mentioned The Watcher – do you look more on things in the past?
A. Yes, sure. I do look back. I still sometimes wake up and go, 'Gosh, I shouldn’t have done that!'
Q. Even after all you’ve achieved?
A. Well, I’d be thinking about a scene thinking, ‘Why didn’t I do that in that scene?’ I reflect on past work and through my experiences – I guess it’s just trying to see what I could learn from them.
Q. You’ve been described as the biggest film star in the world – yet you clearly don’t see it that way?
A. No, not at all. I’m not the biggest film star in the world [laughs] at all.
Q. The Matrix made quite a bit of money?
A. Yeah but that film wasn’t on my back. That was the Wachowski brothers... that’s not my film.
Q. But you did that movie with Jack Nicholson (Something’s Gotta Give)...
A. Well, that was Jack Nicholson and Nancy Meyers made that film. I mean… This is an issue that to me is not very interesting in the sense that – it’s great if a film works, like if Constantine works, like I said with The Matrix, it gives me an opportunity to hopefully do something great and if it does succeed and people do enjoy it then producers will want to work with me so that’s opportunity for me to make another film.
It’s what I do and that’s what I love, to act, so for me hopefully it works out like that. In terms of judging here and there – that’s not….
Q. Did you see the original Il Mare?
A. I haven’t seen the original film yet. I didn’t see it when it was released here so I haven’t had a chance to view it.
I’d like to see it because I hear it’s a great film but even like with Constantine, I’ll take the project from the script I’m given. I thought the script was a real romanticist’s romance. It’s really romantic love.
Q. What is that?
A. It’s believing in love. It’s believing that there’s someone for you. That there’s the ultimate person, the ideal who will be your soul mate and your perfect match and that all your pain and suffering will go away and you’ll live happily ever after and you’ll be together in a blissful union.
Q. Can you have more than one soul mate?
A. I’m the wrong guy to ask [laughs]