Cineworld (UK), February / March 2005

Finding Neo

by Debbie Bean

'Constantine' star Keanu Reeves talks to Cineworld about making the film, his passion for the character, John Constantine, and working again with the Wachowski brothers ...

QUESTION: Keanu, have you seen the film yet? If so how do you feel about it?
I've seen some shorts cut together before events like this. And it looks really beautiful. I think it was shot really beautifully. I think the crux is the camera angles. It gets you inside a scene and lets you come out of a scene. It feels very fresh. And yet, we really connected to the storytelling on it. It's not just a bunch of quick cuts. There's something very fresh about it.

QUESTION: What was your approach to the character? How did you make it different?
Well, I ditched the accent. I can't really... I have to wait and see. I really loved the guy. I loved his anger. And I loved his wry sense of humor about the awfulness of the world. Having to deal with that day in and day out. I mean, Djimon (Honsou) is playing (Papa) Midnite. We're kind of like warriors. And we're in this world of shit and just trying to deal with it. Really, I liked him.

QUESTION: Did you read comics as a kid?
I read a couple, yeah. I followed... What did I like? When I read Frank Miller, I was like, "Oh, my god! What is this?" Then (it happened again) when I saw Dark Knight, that series, then when I went back to X-Men, and Frank Miller's Wolverine series, that was just awesome stuff to me. I collected some New Mutants, which came off of the X-Men. When I was a kid, it was Spider-Man. There were a couple of things. The whole idea of a graphic novel when I was a kid was just awesome.

QUESTION: So, no Archie's?
You know what? When you're in the bus, going to camp? Richie Rich... Remember Richie Rich, right?

QUESTION: Keanu, why are you passionate about the character of Constantine?
He is fighting for his life. When I was travelling here this morning, I asked, "So, when they ask us what this film is about?"

QUESTION: Keanu, Constantine committed suicide to get out of here.
He can see things and has knowledge about the way the world works that is distressing to him. And he's trying to figure a way out. And now he's committed suicide. And he's trying to find his way into Heaven, into the Lord's grace. He's trying to find his life. A better life. And he struggles with his own nature, because he's not the nicest guy all the time.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about your character for people who are not familiar with him?
He's sort of a mid-way person, between Heaven and Hell. He deals in icons. And he's a bit of a thief.

QUESTION: Keanu, how is the chemistry between you and Rachel Weisz?
Lovely. Yeah, she's lovely. It was fun to work with her again (after 'Chain Reaction') and see her again. We had a good time.

QUESTION: Keanu, can you talk about the physicality of this character? He's dying, he's sick...
Oh, it was really fun to play. It was a breaking down. The character, throughout the film, gets broken down...

QUESTION: How do you deal with your reputation as a celebrity and does the celebrity status affect your roles?
I don't think of my status as a celebrity. I'm just trying to make good films and act and have a career. In terms of the reluctant hero or anything like that, they're great roles to play and they're roles that oftentimes give me a chance to speak about... trying to do good things in life, trying to be better, redemption. I'm not doing so well with that personally, but I got to work with Francis and hopefully we did a good picture.

QUESTION: The character of Constantine is very rich emotionally. Can you talk about your process as an actor and preparing for the role?
I had the great fortune of working with some really great collaborators. Francis allowed me to work with him and kind of form the script, and he has a really good idea of what Constantine is, that kind of hard-boiled guy. His humor. I got work with the writer Akiva Goldsman. That allowed me to really have input and try to get that Constantinian Constantine, you know. That hard-boiled? (In his dark smoky character voice), "It's the sulphur." And the character itself is so beautiful. I mean it's a wonderful role for an actor. There's a lot to do. He's a guy who's been dealing with issues of heaven and hell and the kind of rules of the way life and the world works. And he's not quite happy with the way the world works. I could relate.

QUESTION: I'm sorry I have to ask this question, but I really want to know. Is there going to be a SPEED 3?
[Reeves thinks for a moment, looks up, scratches his scraggly bead then trying to keep a straight face. He pauses contemplating the answer.]

QUESTION: You've done so many action roles but how do you get ready for these parts, like this and 'The Matrix'?
Train. I mean, I just really enjoy it. I like the physical aspects of some of the roles I've had a chance to play. But, yeah, just training.

QUESTION: What was the best part about making 'Constantine'?
(Pause/thinking) Going to hell and back? This was one of the best experiences I've ever had in making a film. It was because of the role itself and the people I got to collaborate with. It was just a great experience: the crew that I worked with, the script that I got, the character that I played, the actors that I got to work with... it's all-around, just a great experience. I really like the character. I like John Constantine. I like him.

QUESTION: How do you feel about doing the green-screen work?
The thing I liked about it is that you do have a sense of a kind of control in it. But at the same time, you miss the interplay, you miss the surprise, you miss the other kind of interaction. But it's also fun in the same way, too, because it's an element of make-believe. But if you do too much of it, oh my God, it's a nightmare. But I love it. It's fun.

QUESTION: You've done so many roles in so many genres is there anything new you'd like to try?
I'd like to do some Shakespeare on the screen actually. I wouldn't mind doing "The Scottish" play.

QUESTION: Will you be working with Andy and Larry Wachowski again?
I hope so. I really hope so. I love those guys to death. I just think they're wonderful people and such great artists.

Article Focus:



Constantine , Chain Reaction , Speed 3 , Matrix, The

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