- Getting older
- Believing in aliens
- The movie he wishes he’d never made
by Aletha McHalick
Keanu Reeves is really very good at keeping his thoughts to himself. He’s carved out a niche as the strong, silent type and then cemented his spot there.
It’s now hard to believe Keanu was once the go-to guy for casting directors after a hot, friendly-faced doofus – but he was so scared of being typecast as the dopey Ted from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey that he had nightmares about it.
Since then, Keanu has steadily built a big-screen career playing moody, intense characters – from Neo in The Matrix trilogy to abusive husband Donnie in The Gift and an occult detective in Constantine.
Keanu’s latest role as a telepathic alien in The Day the Earth Stood Still takes him further away from his former on-screen persona.
Here, Keanu tells us why he loves sci-fi, about his regrets as an actor, and what he thinks of aliens.
You’re getting on these days – not 21 any more! Yes, I’m knocking on heaven’s door.
Is there a 40-year-olds’ secret handshake? Yes, I remember my doctor telling me, "Enjoy your 40s because you still have your physical capabilities and you have to take advantage of it."
You’ve had some pretty diverse looks in your movies. What is your favorite? I had some fantastic costumes in Dracula. I thought I had some pretty good hair in Little Buddha. I like my snazzy outfits in The Matrix.
Of all your movies, which is the closest to you? When I was younger, I’d say Permanent Record – it was about teen-age suicide. But that was back then.
There’s a rumour that you are a wine connoisseur. I’m not a wine connoisseur, though I do enjoy a good drop now and then.
What’s your favourite wine? It’s not only the taste but the moment that you have the wine. So I have a sentimental favourite which is a 1982 [French wine], and it’s a fine year from a fine grower.
You’ve turned 44 this year. You’ve aged incredibly well. I certainly feel older. I don’t know, maybe it’s my ancestors – I’ll thank them for that. But maybe I’ll turn 65 and it will all just fall apart, like a disaster. The wheels will come off.
Do you get wiser with age? I don’t know. I guess you get confronted with the same choices and if you keep making the bad choice, you don’t gain any wisdom. But when you get the same offer and you don’t make the bad choice, then maybe you’re wise.
Do you have any regrets or would you change anything? Yeah, there are some things I wish didn’t happen.
Maybe your 1986 movie Youngblood? [Sarcastically] Oh Youngblood. That was a good one. I’m glad that one happened.
You play an alien in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Do you believe in them? I have no reason not to believe in them. I wish I had the experience [of seeing aliens], I think that would be fantastic. I don’t want to be abducted – those stories never sound so good – and I don’t want the implant. But to see them outside the window of an airplane sounds fun.
If you weren’t in the movies, what profession would you be pursuing? I have no idea. I have been doing this since I was 16 and I’m 44, so I really don’t know how to answer that question.
Twenty years ago, did you ever entertain the idea of doing something else? I was working so hard trying to do this well. I’ve never really – knock on wood – had to look for another job and hopefully I won’t have to in the future. But I don’t know how to answer that question.
Were you sporty when you were young? I read you were an ice-hockey goalkeeper. Yeah, I played hockey when I was an adolescent. Maybe that was a crossroads – professional hockey or the high school play, I took the high school play.
I’ve seen photos of you on a motorbike. Are you a bike enthusiast? I have a bike and that’s how I get around. There are so many paparazzi in Los Angeles now, it’s like, “Here is Keanu filling up his bike with gas. Here is Keanu at a stoplight on his bike.”
You got a bike when you went travelling this year? Yeah, I got the chance to travel a little bit this summer in France. I got to ride around there, which was fantastic.
What kind of traveller are you? I haven’t really taken that many motorcycle trips. This summer was one of the first times ever I’ve had the chance to do it.
Does acting in a remake put more pressure on you than other films? It obviously brings in another consideration, because you’re coming from a source material and you want to make people who liked the original happy. But that’s true of any adaptation.
What is it about sci-fi that fascinates you? Did you like it as a kid? Yeah, I grew up liking science fiction. It’s a wonderful genre, it’s almost like a Trojan horse because you can put any other genre inside of science fiction. You can do a romance like Blade Runner, you can do action romance like Star Wars, you can do an existential art movie like Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, you can do a dramatic love story like THX1138, you can do an art film like 2001: A Space Odyssey. And you can do a comedy like Spaceballs. It translates well into many genres.
What’s your most precious possession? Anything you’d save from a burning house? What I would run back into it for? I think I’d run back for a couple of photographs.
How environmentally friendly and health-conscious are you? I try to eat healthy and my house is off the grid [electricity supply]. I try to do the basic things I can do.
Is there anything you’d like to do? I’m developing a chef project.
You’re cooking? Yeah, my sister is going out with a chef, so they hook me up with this person. Hopefully I will start working on that.
Is it a chef we’ve heard of? No.
Are you a good cook now? No.
You can’t cook? I can follow recipes but I don’t cook much.
Growing up, was there a character you wanted to play? I admit I had a little actor envy when I didn’t get to play Wolverine [in X-Men], because Frank Miller’s four-part series on Wolverine was pretty cool.
Why Wolverine? I didn’t mind those adamantine claws. And his fortitude, his honour.
With your music, are you looking to form a new band? No, I haven’t been playing much. I’ve been doing some play readings, had a cameo in a web series with Illeana Douglas, and then looking for work and developing projects.
Have you lost interest in music? It’s not that. I’ve been working on the thing over here, and I’ve another thing over there, so I haven’t been able to jam.
Did you find any correlation between playing an alien and being a celebrity? That distinction, I don’t know what it really means. I just live my life normally. Maybe going to a premiere is not normal, but that’s a fun part of the job.