A, Issue 50 (Italy), December 18, 2008
Keanu: And Now, Let's Stop
(Translated from Italian by keanugirl76, translation edited by Anakin McFly)
In his latest movie, he’s an ecologist alien. A character that is very similar to Reeves. Because…
by Costanza Rizzacasa
Did you ever feel like an alien?
“Sometimes. Especially as a teenager, when I had to attend a new high school and everything was different”.
There are neither futuristic sunglasses nor “Matrix” style black-leather coats: Keanu Reeves goes back to space, but this time as the alien Klaatu, who lands on the Earth to alert us that the destruction of mankind, unable to stop the environmental disaster, is imminent. The movie The Day The Earth Stood Still is the remake of a 1951 sci-fi classic. A chat before the day after? Reeves, in Rome with director Scott Derrickson, discusses with “A” [the magazine] ecology and politics. The 44-year-old actor, with his black, slightly untidy beard, smiles shyly. At first he’s reluctant, as though he were afraid of compromising himself with an answer. He can even think about a question for two minutes, and then just answer: “Yes.” After all, Derrickson highlights: “Keanu expresses himself especially when he doesn’t speak.” It may be. But then, Keanu, a Canadian with a Hawaiian name (it means “cold breeze of the mountain”), opens his heart. And you understand why he’s in the list of the 100 sexiest actors in the history of Hollywood. He smiles when he remembers “how much fun I had acting with John Cleese, who, with his Monty Python, was my hero when I was a child.” And, very moved, he tells us about his visit, in the morning, to Bernardo Bertolucci, who directed him 15 years ago in Little Buddha. “We chatted for an hour, and I didn’t want to leave him. I’d like to talk to him again, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.”
In 1951, when Robert Wise filmed his first The Day The Earth Stood Still, the menace was the atomic bomb. Nowadays it’s global warming. Are we a race that tends to self-destroy?
“Unfortunately, we are. From the Cold War to the present day, nothing has changed. At that time there was the nuclear threat, today there is the fear that we may be imprisoned in a planet we have ruined. Our way of life, so thoughtless and scornful, is producing terrible consequences for the Earth. Of course we don’t need an alien invasion to understand the sort of future we are building for us and our children. The signals the planet is sending are clear. We realized it a long time ago, but in order to defend our privileges, it often means we pretend not to see them. So, maybe in 25 years we will have to do another remake because there will be another new emergency. If the Earth is still here.”
The countdown has begun…
“Yes. Unlike the original movie, where the aliens left us with the promise that they would come back to destroy us, we wanted to convey a message of hope. Not because in such a period of crisis mankind needs being reassured, but rather because we – despite tending to self-destroy – are also able to face and overcome catastrophes. Whenever people get an ultimatum, they can change.”
Are you sure?
“The threats against mankind always pull the best out of us. Deeply different people approach each other for everybody’s sake. The nuclear weapons that inspired the first movie are still present, but we’re not using them. This means that, when we want, we still can make wise and wonderful choices. For this reason, we mustn’t lose hope for a better world. Otherwise we can only get desperate. Then, if someone thinks that this vision of reality is too rosy and optimistic, they’d better rent a horror movie, like Saw-”
Do you believe that Obama will be able to convert the US industry to green energy?
“He really hopes to. It’s an integral part of his programme. I think he’ll do his best, even though it won’t be easy. But it’s not only the USA, but the whole world that must revise its relationship with the Earth. Italy too must not waste time.
Another global emergency is terrorism. Seven years have passed since the attack on the Twin Towers took place. India has just lived its 9/11…
“Terrorism and war are the highest expressions of human violence. When the alien lands on Central Park, unarmed and curious, the first thing the American Secretary of State thinks of to do is to kill him. A bit like what certain countries do with immigrants. But human nature is not always bad. Maybe, before pulling out the weapons, we can talk about it. Even though The Day The Earth Stood Still was filmed months ago, somebody thinks this movie is a product of the new era of Obama, who pursues dialogue. I’m not so presumptuous, but if a movie can stimulate some thoughts, then I must say that I did a good job.
Regarding catastrophes and the capacity for reacting, is it true that, in this economic crisis, America is re-discovering some lost values, like friendship and family?
“Yes. Some moments ago I was on the phone with a couple of friends. The day before yesterday, in the USA, it was Thanksgiving Day, and they told me that the celebration was more intimate and friendly than in the last years. Everybody felt closer to each other. I was very happy. I wish I had been there.
A traditionalist. But are you really fond of turkey and Thanksgiving?
“Are you joking? I love turkey. I love talking about turkey and, above all, I love turkey’s sauce.“ He laughs. “Now I’m exaggerating. But celebrations really amuse me. There’s a particular warmth. I’m looking forward to Christmas. I’ll spend it in New York. The moment I prefer is when I go buying presents for my friends.”
Let’s go back to your job. Do you think that sci-fi can convey messages that otherwise wouldn’t reach the public?
“Sure. It talks about out fears, our hopes, our fantasies.”
Do you believe in aliens?
“Yes. It would be arrogant to think that we are the only sentient beings in the Universe. Some friends of mine told me that they saw an UFO. And I don’t think they just imagined it.”
Your favourite sci-fi movies?
“The classics: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner and Star Wars.”
Who are the aliens among the humans? Certain politicians who are very distant from the common people?
“Rather than politicians, I would define them as psychopaths. [ITA – keanugirl76].
Will there be a fourth Matrix episode?
“Not with me. As far as I’m concerned, I consider Neo’s path over.”
What makes you free?
“Acting, travelling, riding my bikes, reading a good book. I was struck by Michel Houellebecq’s The Elementary Particles. Now I’m reading Proust’s In Search of Lost Time and the Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño’s 2666.
Congratulations! Do you know that, usually, men read less than women?
“Maybe I’m in contact with my feminine side.”
If an alien landed at the White House the day of Obama’s takeover, what do you think he would tell the President?
"Keep your promises. And good luck.”