Reeves Unveils Earth at Caltech
by Mike Szymanski
After looking over SCI FI Wire's list of things to update in The Day the Earth Stood Still, Keanu Reeves said one more needs to be added.
Speaking in an interview before screening footage from his remake at Pasadena's California Institute of Technology on Dec. 5, Reeves said that he loved Robert Wise's 1951 SF movie. "Yeah, there's a lot of dated stuff in that movie, and when they first told me there were going to remake it, I thought it would be tough," he said. He admitted he thought it was funny how doctors smoked cigarettes in the hospital rooms, and how there were a lot of boarding houses in Washington in the original.
"I think the toughest thing for us was going to be updating Gort," Reeves added, referring to the film's iconic robot. "We had to have Gort, and he had to look realistic and had to look like the original one. But we did it, and did it well. Gort is awesome."
Director Scott Derrickson was also on hand. "There were some very obvious things in the older film that we couldn't get away with in the new one without looking ridiculous," he said.
During the screening, some of the biggest laughs came from lines that closely recalled the original. When actress Kathy Bates approaches the alien Klaatu, played by Reeves, she asks: "Where did you come from? Are you on a mission?"
Reeves says, "Do you represent all the humans?"
She replies, "I represent the president of the United States!"
That got one of the biggest laughs of the evening.
"I guess I agree with Keanu that the toughest thing to do would be to make a realistic Gort that wouldn't look silly but still be threatening," Derrickson said. "I hope we did it."
Gort (left) and his handler, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), from the original 1951 Day the Earth Stood Still.
Derrickson also confirmed that Reeves was the one who insisted on using the familiar phrase "Klaatu barada nikto" in the remake. "Yes, it's true," Derrickson told SCI FI Wire. "Keanu read the script and said, 'That has to be in the movie.' And we thought about it and agreed we couldn't do it without the phrase, but we do it in a creative way."
Also starring Jennifer Connelly, the updated The Day the Earth Stood Still is scheduled for nationwide release on Dec. 12.