Interview with Keanu Reeves for Glamour magazine
(Translated from Russian by Irina. Translation edited by LucaM and Anakin McFly)
Keanu Reeves - the wanderer, incomprehensible, pale and alone, a constant subject of concern. He eats cold food at the bus station, he doesn't have anyone to celebrate his birthday with, he goes on solitary bike rides, he's said the world scares him, but he likes to wander from place to place.
A few years ago he confidently set a course for the East, jumped into the director's chair and made Man of Tai Chi - a movie that included lots of fights, and in which he plays the soulless owner of an underground fight club in an immaculate black suit. But soon that suit was too small for him; he went to Cannes to exhibit his film, and nobody could recognize him. He seemed happy, smiled a lot, took pictures with fans, had shaved his beard, grown out his hair, gotten plump. But he soon cleaned himself up and in a couple of months was once again looking like he had in Constantine, now giving interviews about his new movie - 47 Ronin.
The story of the 47 ronin is an important part of Japanese history. 300 years ago, they took vengeance on Kira for the insult and murder of their master, and committed ritual suicide. But Hollywood turned this reckless tale of revenge into a colorful 3D fairy tale with witches, magic swords, nightmares, scary demons and Kai, played by Keanu Reeves.
The movie trailer gives the wrong impression that the story revolves around Reeves' protagonist, Kai. In fact, Kai is only one of the 47 samurai, and 47 Ronin was only pretending to be a film with Keanu in the title role and Japanese extras. Although producers were only chasing audience's interests, even removing the original director from the project - he almost took Keanu out of the final battle scene (and if he had, to tell the truth, we would have kicked him out as well.) (Ed: Not sure about the translation for this whole chunk. - Ani)
From Japan, Keanu moved back to the US to play a hitman out of retirement. Reeves is 49, but he still has a score to settle with the world before he lays down his arms. Fans have seen the ominous signs - he's gloomy and unsociable, and a girl would be good for him. In response to our restlessness, Reeves takes on a new movie project and disappears into the set. My interview with Keanu kept getting postponed ("we don't know when he'll be done, but he doesn't want to let you down.")
And when we finally get to talk to him, Keanu smiles and laughs.
Glamour: Do you get nervous doing interviews?
Keanu: No, not any more. I used to!
Glamour: But I'm terribly nervous.
Keanu: What? Don't be! Thank you for spending time with me.
Glamour: Really? Okay, great. Keanu, as a viewer do you enjoy watching 3D movies?
Keanu: You know, I love stories, really good stories, and movies - they are cool stories. I only saw a few 3D movies as a kid, mostly horror ones. But now everything's so much more complex and sophisticated. I'm talking about: what kind of reaction it causes, how the film captures and immerses you in this fictional, impossible world. I love this feeling, and it reminds me of my childhood when I could get lost in a movie and be spellbound.
Glamour: Do you regret that The Matrix wasn't made in 3D? Should it be re-released like Titanic?
Keanu: You know, the possibility is certainly there, but why do it? The film works as it is. The Matrix was revolutionary; bullet time is a hypnotic form of slow-mo. It put the audience inside of the story without any 3D. So I have no regrets. But 47 Ronin was specifically filmed in 3D. Everything was planned from the start; it wasn't an afterthought, "And let's do it all in 3D!" When you do it that way, 3D isn't just an extra special effect, but breathtaking and magical.
"My personal life is quiet, boring, unremarkable. But in my work I've been more fortunate."
Glamour: How was it working with your Japanese co-stars?
Keanu: I've worked with actors from around the world, and, you know, I think that we all think in the same language. Telling stories, discussing details ("What's your costume? And yours?") and dialogue. Everybody of course has their own style of working, but overall we're very similar as well. Working with Japanese actors in "47 Ronin" was a big honor, because it's their culture, their history, their native country. Believe it or not, I always had the feeling that I was touching something precious and sacred.
Glamour: And you weren't afraid to change the real story? All those demons, witches and spirits...
Keanu: You know, the legend of the 47 ronin has been told and retold so many times... there are even Hello Kitty versions of the 47 ronin! I think that in order to tell this story in Hollywood, it was necessary to introduce an element of fantasy. New characters, dragons, snakes - fortunately, they're also part of Japanese mythology. We tried to be be respectful to the story, but we told it in a different way.
Glamour: Do you yourself like the idea of revenge?
Keanu: No. Like, "Hey, you'll pay for your words!"? No. Although there are... Well, I sometimes have fantasies of revenge. But you know, it happens to everybody.
Glamour: In the film, you kill and take revenge on everybody. It's probably not a good idea to mess with you in real life.
Keanu: You know, I love fight scenes in movies. I like to fight, but only on the set. I can assure you that I'm not dangerous in real life. I know movie kung-fu. It looks like a dance. In 47 Ronin I couldn't wait to fight with Japanese swords. It was movie fighting as well. I worked with Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays Oishi, and he's a legend, an amazing actor. Acting and fighting with him was an incredible honor.
Glamour: You've played the son of the devil, and now a demon.
Keanu: Hah, that's funny. But my characters don't just accept their lot in life. They fight for the best in themselves.
Glamour: Did you ever feel like an outsider, like Kai?
Keanu: Outsider? Yes. Sure. That's ... it's all because of how I grew up: I changed schools many times, moved a lot. And everywhere I turned out to be a loser.
Glamour: The film turned out perfectly in that men would be fascinated by the fights and women with the love story. Which was important to you?
Keanu: For me and my character, it's primarily a love story, a tragic love story. Kai and Mika can never be together. Life is hard, but in our film even that could be romantic. And, you know, we have a film about how important it is to act honorably, how to live. About how to be grateful to those who were kind to you, and that evil will be punished.