Keanu Reeves: "I don't believe in destiny."
(Translated from Russian)
by Tari Karimov
The Matrix superhero is in The Swiss Montreux
Keanu Reeves - the super-hero of the "Matrix" blockbusters - has settled temporarily for two months now - January and February - in the hotel Le Montreux Palace in Montreux, Switzerland, where Nabokov stayed for 16 years. When he's asked to do an interview for a Russian newspaper, he agrees. "On Saturday. At noon? ??!"
We met him in one of the cafés. Reeves ordered lunch for himself. While he's waiting for the food, he looks at the paper which has commissioned the interview. Having thumbed through the first pages of edition number 7 of "Argumenty i fakty magazine", he stopped at an article with a photo of Putin. "A serious man!" - he comments, after looking at a gesture Putin is making in that photo. Then Keanu gets to the final pages with crossword puzzles. "In this Russian newspaper there is no chess section? It's unbelievable!" Now I understand why he buys the International Herald Tribune every morning at his hotel - their daily chess problems. "Actually only the chess sections hold any interest for me in newspapers. And on TV too", says Keanu Reeves.
16 years in a hotel? Cool!
Almost every week newspapers report that celebrities settle in Switzerland. Were you drawn here by the tax incentives?
Sorry, no, that's not the reason for my presence here. My sister Kim is staying at the local clinic for treatment. I'm here for her sake.
They report that you've already bought a house in the vicinities of Lausanne.
Nonsense. I asked a real estate agency to find to me an apartment for rent here in this region. I don't even know for how long I might stay.
A "Lake House" in Switzerland?
Well it is possible to call it that, if you want to.
Your movie, "The Lake House" is a mystical melodrama. In one of the scenes the heroine finds a copy of Dostoevsky's novel "Crime and Punishment". Can you explain why?
(He laughs.) Why Dostoevsky in "The Lake House"? It's possible to think that the overlapping between reality and fantasy was taken directly from Dostoevsky. But this is too serious for a love story! For me this looks like pure coincidence! And the correspondence between the characters, without everyone there using e-mail or text messages... I also prefer to correspond via traditional mail, without computers. But, most likely, the director of the film is simply a crazy collector of Dostoevsky's novels, the very first editions.
Is it true you don't own a computer?
No. That's right. Sometimes, I use one to play a little chess.
In the hotel in which you're staying, the Russian novelist Nabokov used to live for 16 years!
16 years in this hotel?! Amazing. And you didn't meet him here? Yes, of course, I've read Nabokov. For example, his novel "The Luzhin Defense" about the chess player. The last book of Russian literature which greatly pleased me was from Ageyev. [added by the interviewer: it's the "Cocaine Romance"]
I can only do "movie" kung-fu.
In the movie "The Devil's Advocate" your partner was Al Pacino. He speaks in many languages in the film - in Russian too. Did you understand precisely what he was talking about?
I don't know what he said. But it's not important. You do believe that he actually speaks Russian or Chinese in the movie? I think it's more important for an actor to create a character with his role that the audience will believe in. But basically, it would be great for an actor to play a role in another language. It could be wildly interesting.
In the same film, in the love scene, the whole world could see a scar on your abdomen...
It is a real scar, I had a serious accident on the motorcycle, I ran into a rock.
They say you are a big fan of fast driving.
And who doesn't love it?
There are no problems with the Swiss road surveillance?
So far I haven't had any problems. Although, I suspect that video cameras on the local auto-routes have already stored two or three marvelous photos, capturing the special features of my driving. And in general I like to be here. It's a beautiful place. The lake, mountains, pleasant people, outstanding kitchen. I think the next time I'll be here, I must rent a motorbike to drive around here.
There is an opinion that the films filled with special effects generated by computer no longer leave a place for the humans to interact.
And what are these films about? "Matrix" is a movie that reaches out to everyone. It's about love and doubt. About a problem of choice. Only, the plot has been told in a more unusual way. The hi-tech somehow only serves to advance the "human" in the story in a new way.
They say that after the success of the first "Matrix" you gave the movie's creators, the Wachowski brothers, 38 million dollars so the sequels could be completed.
Not quite true. I don't know from where journalists get all these numbers. When the Wachowski's came up with the idea to make the "Matrix" sequels, they proposed to create a kind of pool from which everyone could profit, once the movies were completed. I put money into that pool. So that was not a gift, but an investment. But I gave motorcycles away as presents to members of the crew who helped me stay healthy on the set.
You know kung-fu. Would you be able, if need arose, to use it?
No, certainly not. I know "movie" kung-fu. It's like a choreography that I performed.
It's possible even to buy a time out on his salary.
American newspapers call you the most expensive actor in Hollywood but even in your present position you still depend on the movie's directors.
Yes and no. Certainly, first of all a director selects an actor for a part. But of course I can talk directly with someone at a studio if I like something. Or ask my manager to look out for something interesting that is convenient for me. Like with the movie "Sweet November", which I really wanted to play. I was interested in that warm human aspect of the part.
There is the theory that many Hollywood stars had unhappy childhoods, that their acting talent comes from their attempts to escape from reality into the world of imagination. How was it in your case?
Adults always need an abstract explanation of everything, so it's a clever theory. The fact is that I, as a child, simply felt a huge pleasure from acting, from creating something new. Later it was fun, like playing hockey. Then and now I do not know a more fascinating occupation than to play a scene on a movie set.
How would you here answer the question that Dracula asks your character: do you believe in destiny?
No. Definitely not.
Do you still have the opportunity to observe life through the eyes of an ordinary person?
It's a very important factor for an actor - to be rooted in the normal, everyday life, not in some transcendental clouds. Wherever possible, I try to live an ordinary life. It's good to have money. It makes me free from certain things in life. I can even take time off, and can help others.
I spoke with the hotel's concierge who told me that, besides the time you spend visiting your sister in the hospital, you are alone for most of the time in your room, in perfect solitude.
Most of the time I work. Right now I spend my time on four scripts, doing preliminary work, editing, suggesting changes, I talk to scriptwriters or directors.
On what kind of scripts do you work?
There's something that takes place in space, but it is, additionally, a love story. Then there is a bank robbery. One's a cop with the Los Angeles police department who has ethical problems -- that's the plot for "The Night Watchman" which has already been announced for 2008. How all this will turn out, what will wait for me in the future? Well, I don't know my fate.