Reeves as ‘Still’ as Ever
Has Keanu Reeves ever given a good interview? I've been present a number of times when the actor, now 44 years old, has spoken to the press, and it has never been pretty. "Constantine"? It was clear that "self-deprecating" wasn't in his vocabulary. "The Lake House"? Luckily, the charismatic and fun-to-talk-to Sandra Bullock was in the room, too. "Street Kings"? He may have spoken a total of five times during the film's 30-minute press conference. And last July, he wasn't exactly fan friendly in front of 6,000 Comic-Con attendees ready to chat about his new flick "The Day the Earth Stood Still." Needless to say, a much smaller audience didn't change his demeanor as he was positioned to chat about the finished "Earth" remake this past weekend.
But, some background first. Based on the 1951 Robert Wise classic of the same name, "Day" finds our planet being judged by an alliance of other worlds that believe our species may have done it more harm than good. Klaatu (Reeves) is an emissary sent to provide the final judgment on the human race. It's only his relationship with scientist Helen Benson (a slumming Jennifer Connelly) that may turn things in our favor.
In the original, the guts of a studio film to tackle problems such as the Cold War and the need for a United Nations elevated the story from B-movie to critical favorite. Director Scott Derrickson, who came to prominence after helming "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," says, "I was struck by the idea that updating this movie had tremendous value because of the original being so rooted in the social issues of its time. I loved the idea of being able to basically tell the same story but bring in these social issues, these interesting meshes we've gotten [ourselves into]."
As for Reeves, he also liked the contemporary parallels, but also admits he thought it would be "fun" to play an alien. He notes, "That was part of the interesting side of the role. He starts out [alien] and he becomes quite human."
A number of journalists remarked after the screening that they felt Reeves was channeling a particular icon of that era, Rod Serling, in his performance. Reeves quickly shoots that down, even though it would make his take more interesting than it is.
"It really came to me from the obligations of the story. It was in the script. That was really where I worked from for the character," Reeves says. "There were certain cues, when he is born and the first time he speaks and he says, 'This body is going to take some time to get used to.' So it was just kind of the concept of just the separation of his consciousness and body."
Uh-huh. Perhaps hoping he might throw the writers in attendance a bone, a reporter asks Reeves: Is there anything special about the sci-fi genre that keeps bringing you back to it?
"Well, I love the genre and I approached it like any other film," Reeves says. "I think science fiction provides great storytelling opportunities, and in the past I have had the chance to be part of good stories in science-fiction films."
Yet, considering the response to the movie by many who have seen it, it's ironically appropriate.
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" opens nationwide on Dec. 12.