Keanu Reeves' Low-Tech Life
by Jeanne Wolf
Keanu Reeves is no stranger to facing supernatural and otherworldly beings on the big screen. This time, he's one himself — an alien trying to save the world in the remake of the 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Reeves' history with science fiction — from The Matrix and its sequels to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Johnny Mnemonic — stops at the theaters as the actor reveals his desire for a simpler, electronics-free life.
Q: Beyond the action and special effects, you cared about the environmental message in the film, didn't you?
A: Absolutely. It's kind of asking us to take a look at our relationship to the planet and its impact on the other species that we share it with. To me, there's a nice moment that sums it up. Kathy Bates, who's playing the Secretary of Defense, is questioning me, an alien being, and she says, 'What are you doing here on our planet?' And my character says, 'Your planet?' I think we could all use that perspective that we don't own the world, we just live here.
Q: If you could have a superpower like the alien, what would it be?
A: Well, first I'd want the superpower to help others by healing. And the superpower for myself would be to fly into outer space like the Silver Surfer. I sort of did in The Matrix when I was lifted up into the air suspended by wires. I was like, 'Whoooo!' And coming down was neat because the wires would go slack and I'd sort of drop the last ten feet to the ground.
Q: Do you believe in aliens?
A: Some days I do. Some days I don't. There's so much unexplained and unexplainable phenomena that's presented to us. But beyond that, the cosmos is so vast. We can't be the only sentient entity. It might not look like us, but it's going to be out there.
Q: There's a lot of technology in this film. Ironically, you've sort of avoided the electronic world in which computers and the Internet have such an influence on us.
A: I don't own a computer and I don't e-mail. I'm fascinated by people who freak out when they don't get an instant response to an e-mail. It's like they expect as soon as they send an email to get the answer back and if they don't it's like awful. I just hope people won't totally lose the ability to write letters because it's a good way to communicate.
Q: Do you use a pen to write?
A: Actually, I prefer a typewriter. I enjoy the sensation of sitting down and taking time to think about what I want to say and then, typing, which has a kind of physicalness to it as the imprint goes on the paper. It's also something that doesn't take batteries.
Q: How do you deal with fans who invade the privacy that you've tried to protect?
A: I always find it surreal that complete strangers come up and ask me personal questions. I don't mind speaking about work, but when the talk turns to 'Who are you?' and 'What do you do off-screen?' I'm like, 'Get out of here.' I've been in situations where people have felt they had a relationship with me or something and I didn't even know who they were.
Q: Any plans for a long-term relationship in your future?
A: I'd like to have a family. I'm getting older and maybe that experience can help you to be the best that you can be to yourself and to another person that you're with. I think you have to use communication and imagination in a relationship. It's an imaginative act; it's an act of creation.
Q: How much of yourself do you put on the screen?
A: I'm still trying to figure that out. In acting, you're constantly discovering new feelings and thoughts and exposing yourself to them. I guess it could be considered psycho-therapy. All I know is that, as an actor, I can tell you a story that you'll listen to. Maybe it won't just entertain you, it might also teach you something. I think film has the power to change your life if you want to let it.