The Courier (UK), September 5, 2009
Hollywood star’s Dundee visit
by Joy Watters
Passers-by in Dundee’s Tay Square yesterday did a double take when they saw Hollywood superstar Keanu Reeves on walkabout, mingling happily with the locals.
The 45-year-old star of Speed, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the Matrix trilogy was in the city to research his new film by meeting members of the team behind Dundee Rep’s current production, The Cherry Orchard.
It was a flying visit which required an amazing set of circumstances to bring Reeves to Dundee.
Speaking exclusively to The Courier yesterday, he expressed his gratitude to Dundee Rep for its assistance in helping him research the new film, Henry’s Crime.
After speaking to the cast, the play’s writer, director and Rep artistic director James Brining, the actor was not only generous in his praise but also with his time, speaking to fans, signing autographs and posing for photos.
In Henry’s Crime, The Cherry Orchard has an important role to play.
Sitting in the Rep bar, Reeves described the film as a “romantic comedy drama” in which he plays a guy accused of robbing a bank in Buffalo, New York, and next to the bank is a theatre where The Cherry Orchard is being staged.
Reeves’ character auditions for and gets the major role of Lopakhin in Chekhov’s play and falls in love with the leading lady.
Some 20 minutes of the film are devoted to showing the play itself.
It’s been 13 years since the actor did theatre and while in Dundee he discussed the different requirements of stage and screen with the team.
Reeves is looking forward to doing comedy again when shooting starts in November in Buffalo.
The screenplay has been developed for three years and Reeves flew from his home in Los Angeles to London to work on the script with the film’s director, Malcolm Venville.
Malcolm’s wife, actress Daisy Bates, discovered that Dundee Rep is currently producing The Cherry Orchard with a Russian director. In the film the director of The Cherry Orchard is also Eastern European.
It was decided that Reeves would postpone his return to the States and fly to Dundee to meet the team, accompanied by Malcolm Venville, Daisy Bates and producer Jessica de Rothschild.
“We heard of the reputation of the Dundee theatre and decided to come,” he explained.
He spent three hours immersing himself in the play, discussing the process with director Vladimir Bouchler, writer Stuart Paterson, Rep artistic director James Brining and the cast.
The unassuming star was fulsome in his praise of the Dundee team’s help in the research.
He said, “We’re grateful for this opportunity, they were candid and open to all questions.”
James Brining spoke of his surprise and delight when Reeves and Mr Venville got in touch about coming to see the show and the process of putting it together.
“I hope it’s been useful for them in putting the movie together.”
After a meal in the Rep restaurant, Reeves and friends saw the play before retiring to the Invercarse Hotel and flying back to London today.