(Translated and transcripted from French by Miya at Club-Keanu, translation edited by Anakin McFly)
Laurent Weil: He has already saved the world from demons and robots. In his latest movie, it's a matter of environmental perils. He's joining me here. (to Keanu) Thank you very much for being with us for the release of your new film. Do you feel the constant awareness of the environment in Hollywood?
Keanu Reeves: Yeah, but not only in Hollywood, the whole world... I think so.
LW: Have you ever wanted, in a personal way, to fight for the ecological cause like Leonardo Dicaprio, Tom Hanks or Harrison Ford?
KR: I guess doing the film, I do it but I don't have any agency. In my life, I deal with it every day and for working my art.
LW: In this film you're an alien who gives a warning to the Earth prior to its destruction.
LW: If the Earth dies you die. If you die the Earth survives. It's a bit of the message of this movie. Do you agree with that?
KR: We obviously have to change our lifestyles and the impact we have on the environment. There are species threatened on our planet. Part of the message in the film is to tell us that there are characteristics intrinsic to humanity and to save these characteristics means we’re done. So we have to do something, have to change our lifestyle.
LW: Are you optimistic, because in the film the humans react only when things turn bad...
KR: I'm pessimistic and optimistic!
LW: Both... (laughs)
KR: Oui les deux, yeah les deux
LW: Al Gore was the first to speak about environmental warming. He has supported Barack Obama and now Barack Obama is the President of USA. So do you think this is a good thing for the environment?
KR: Well it isn't a bad thing! It's true that Al Gore popularized it with his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth”. It's a means to convey the work on which he worked for years. He does politics since he’s a young man... Again, it's everywhere. It's a good thing!
LW: The Day The Earth Stood Still is a remake. The original movie by Robert Wise has inspired a lot of filmmakers like Steven Spielberg or Tim Burton...
LW: But to be an alien, Keanu, is it tough?
KR: The challenge of being an alien. There were a lot of sorts. The character is more sinister and changes as the film goes. One of the challenges we were facing, is the confidence, the credibility... Because you have to believe in yourself actually and hopefully, if you believe in yourself, the others would believe in you.
LW: You did a lot of science fiction movies, The Matrix of course, Constantine, Johnny Mnemonic. What do you like in this genre, science fiction?
KR: Science fiction is a Trojan horse. In the science fiction genre you can have a romance, an adventure, drama. Science fiction is fantastic whether in film or literature. There’s a story at each time that helps to keep the mirror to see who you are like Shakespeare said... to see our anxieties our fears and it’s fun. As an actor you can have interesting, provocative roles.
LW: How do you explain that they say that you're elusive. Is it true?
KR: I don't think so.
LW: You're described as an alone person, you read Dostoevsky, Hamlet. It's not common for an actor in Hollywood.
KR: I'm a pretty private person. I like to keep my private life private. I've been working for a while, about twenty years. And I'm grateful for the chance to do films that I have done, to work with the people I've worked with. I knock on wood. Hopefully it will continue like that for my career... but I like to keep my private side...
LW: But even at work, Monica Bellucci, who worked with you in The Matrix, says you're not that easy to approach.
KR: I don't know about that! With Monica it wasn’t that bad. I don't know. It depends on how people see you. So, hello Monica! She's a wonderful actress.
LW: You have never been on a french film. Would you like to do so one day?
KR: Yeah I'd love to.
LW: Did you get some propositions?
KR: Yeah, give me some propositions! I've met with Luc Besson a couple of times... It's a funny story, a long time ago I had a meeting with Mr. Rappeneau for The Horseman On The Roof.
LW: Exactly, you didn't make this movie. I don't know if you were given the reasons why.
KR: It's okay. (laughs)
LW: We've met Jean-Paul Rappeneau who told us about the project.
[Interview of Jean-Paul Rappeneau about Keanu]
Jean-Paul Rappeneau: He was so excited about this book which he has read. He spoke very well about the character! He felt everything. So when I talked to my producer, he said if you work with him you have to make the movie in English. Morever Juliette Binoche, who I wanted for the film, speaks English. But it was wrong for me. I couldn't do it in English. It's regretful, but at the same time I'll never forget that he came to see me.
LW: I don't know if you have seen the film. Do you have any regret about the movie ?
KR: No, no, I wouldn't have been... My regret could be not knowing how to speak French.
LW: But did you prepare for the role? Did you take some French lessons?
KR: Yes a little bit. It was a wonderful meeting, with a great ambition and maybe one day I could work in another language. The Horseman On The Roof is a classic so we can understand why I didn’t get the role. But I like to extend my reach. M. Rappeneau was fantastic, an ambitious film with a story all around.
LW: You’re a fan of French literature: The Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono, and of course, you read Houellebecq too I think. Even for us French it isn’t always understandable! What do you like of Houellebecq?
KR: Oh, Houellebecq! Formidable! I like The Elementary Particles. So provocative! I’ve never read anything like that before. The ambitions of Michael for the eradication of the species - that's wonderful! So brutal obviously but I’ve never read anything like that.
LW: You like French literature and cinema. Would you like to settle in France like Bard Pitt?
KR: It wouldn’t be bad; a Parisian apartment perhaps. I spent some time in France last summer. I drove my motorcycle around on French roads. I went in Ardèche, in Arles...
LW: So, Brad Pitt who lives part-time in France, is the 7th of the 100 most sexy stars in cinema on a list published in Empire Magazine. You are the 28th. What do you think? (laughs)
KR: (laughs) At least I’m on the list! I'll work on my French to move up... The language of love, the language of justice, law aussi.
[report on the box-office in France. It was told that Bruce Willis was paid 41 million dollars last year]
LW: For The Matrix sequels you got about 30 million that you partly shared with the crew, and you gave Harleys to the stuntmen. It isn’t convenient...
KR: Do I share it? Yes.
LW: I think you even accepted deferring your salary to have Gene Hackman on a movie with you. For a film to work well, are you ready to help?
KR: Yeah absolutely... Whatever it takes. Sometimes you have to try. I’m very grateful to realise that I have the opportunities that I have. The idea to share that, to be able to afford that is part of my life.
LW: In any case, your co-stars have great memories of you. Lambert Wilson, who worked with you in The Matrix, has something to tell you.
[message from Lambert Wilson to Keanu]
LW: Do you still have his phone number?
KR: I do have his number. I’ll call him. A lovely man.