"Women are superior to me"
(Translated from German by LucaM's sister, translation edited by Anakin McFly)
(Editor's note: This interview is the combination of two separate articles on the same interview by Rüdiger Sturm, where each occasionally had questions not present in the other. The primary source was published in Die Welt on 27 January 2014, and the other in Berliner Morgenpost on the 30th of January.)
Actor Keanu Reeves about his new movie, the great love and growing older
by Rüdiger Sturm
Keanu Reeves is promoting his new Samurai fantasy film "47 Ronin" (Release date: 30th January), which was met in his homeland with less enthusiasm than expected. But the 49-year-old isn't bothered. A conversation with Rüdiger Sturm.
Your new movie wasn't that successful at the box office, especially in the USA. How hard does something like that affect you?
I'm dealing with it philosophically. It was difficult and yet again it wasn't. In the end, many people watched it. People around me all told me: "We liked it. We cried." Thank you!
Why was it difficult?
It's a rather bold and unconventional movie. The cast is almost entirely Japanese. It was inspired by a historical tale. That's very ambitious. In any case it doesn't insult your intelligence. There are quite a lot of things that you can get out of it for yourself.
It shows the martial ethics of the Samurai. Can you identify with that?
I can definitely get something out of the Bushido, the Samurai philosophy, especially the sense of loyalty, the commitment to others - and also to your descendants. I like this strong relationship with nature, which we also address in the movie. And what I find fascinating is the formalism in interpersonal behavior - how you bow, where you look, how you place your hands. I had to first learn that.
Do you prefer that to the informality of the West?
I like them both. I like to respect other people. I'm not a "fuck you" person. Well, maybe there is a part of me that is, occasionally. When I was shooting, I clearly noticed the differences between Westerners and Japanese, because I did not speak Japanese. My colleagues were all hanging around and having fun, and even if they were nice to me, I felt quite isolated.
How about the absolute loyalty? Would you be ready to give your life for somebody - like in the movie?
Well, that's always the thing with movies. You say things so easily there. Then you die your death and everything is beautiful. But I do think that I would die for friends and family. When something happens to them, you feel something in the frontal lobe of your brain and in your heart, and everything in you goes: "Aaaaaah". (screams)
Such outbursts from you would be hard to believe. You always seem so cheerful and relaxed.
There are already times when I flip out. If something drives me mad.
What drives you mad?
Let me think. When was I really, really mad? Hmm, it's so long ago I can't remember.
Are you perhaps strongly influenced by Far Eastern philosophy? You have already played the Buddha; and your directorial project, coming to theaters in the future, is titled "Man of Tai Chi".
I admit that I feel an attraction to these ideas, even if I am not a specialist now. I find their focus on inner balance and on the relationship to your self important. I like how a link between art and nature is created specifically in Japan - that gives me a feeling of stability and centrality where all the past, present and future are one. And in this thinking is also the idea that things become more and more interesting the closer we look at them. With the exception of vacuuming, perhaps.
Do you vacuum?
How long ago was that? At least three months. Like every human being, I need help with some things.
Who is better at housework - men or women?
Oh, now I have to pay close attention to what I say. I don't want to get into trouble here. There is no answer. Men and women can't be compared at all. We're simply completely different species. That's why women can be an absolute mystery to us.
Does that bother you?
Absolutely not. I find these differences fascinating.
Who do you prefer to spend time with - men or women?
It's about the same. I have male and female friends whom I have known for 16, 18 years. And I have just as much fun with them. I don't differentiate. Ultimately, these friends have become something like a part of my family.
But a woman by your side would be even better?
Of course, it's nice to have a relationship, but I've become used to being single for years. While I'm on that road, I dare not take the decisive step. I'm glad just to be friends with a woman.
But you're always getting in touch with new partners. Are you looking for the great love in life?
I don't think that you can look for it. Maybe there isn't such a thing as the great love. It's all about whether you have a functional relationship or not. And I do know when something works and when it doesn't.
And when does it work?
When I am ready to give something to my partner, to share something with her. I must put aside all my selfishness. Of course, this applies to her, too.
Weren't you ready to do that before?
I'm now opening up more to the idea. I'm slowly grasping the concept of love: on the one hand, you need intimacy, but at the same time, your partner should also be your best friend. And you have to be able to trust her.
Is that so difficult for you?
Let's say that I have the feeling that women are superior to me. While I have to ask myself what they're thinking, they understand exactly what's going on inside of me. They've learned that with evolution. It's precisely because they're not as strong as men that they have to be able to read men's thoughts. That's why they're much more evolved than us.
But that hopefully doesn't discourage you from getting married?
And when a woman gets involved with you, then she lets you participate in her feelings and thoughts. That's a great experience. It's why I like the idea of staying together with a woman for a lifetime. On the other hand, I don't feel an absolute urge to do it. Perhaps it's not meant to be.
But you're going to be 50 this year. It's approaching the time to start a family.
I also have nothing against that. But I also don't want to put myself under pressure. At this age you mind is full of the things that you haven't accomplished, but that's only your internal programming. Somehow you believe that you must worry about that.
Did you experience something like a midlife crisis?
The transition was in any case noticeable. It had already begun with bodily matters. I suddenly realized that I wasn't so agile. That wasn't pleasant at all. And I've become aware of the fact that one day I won't be on this Earth anymore. Before that I paid too little attention to time. Suddenly it occurred to me: Wait a minute, where did the last five years go? Today I perceive things differently.
Are there things you do to stay fit?
It's tough; I must train for my movies, of course. But I don't do as much sport as I used to. I'd have to look for some new sport I can still manage at my age. Maybe mud wrestling would be for me.
But seriously - doesn't Hollywood have any problem with how the young star Keanu Reeves may soon no longer exist?
No, for my work it is quite good that I grow older. I always thought I was too young for certain roles. So I don't want to turn back the wheel of time. At least not yet. I feel good in my skin. It seems to me as if I'm starting a second, exciting career now. I always feel like I'm breaking into the unknown. I felt that when I drove from Toronto to Los Angeles to get a foot in Hollywood, and I felt that when I was going to Sydney to shoot the "Matrix" films. And now it's a new transition. It is nice if you can transform yourself, but without changing yourself.
No frustration about the youth that's passed?
That only happens to people who feel that they haven't lived their lives yet. And then they buy a fast sports car to compensate, but that's not me.
What was the most extravagant thing you ever bought?
I don't know if I've ever bought anything extravagant. All that money didn't make me freak out. It was nice, of course, that I could do certain things. I bought a house for my mother - and one for me. I needed a fixed centre of life; I had stayed at hotels for years. On the other hand, I like the meaning in new beginnings.
What new beginnings can you still imagine for yourself?
Anything is possible. Maybe I'll hang out at a housing complex for retirees and carry my beer-belly around. But honestly, I hope I'll work as long as I'll feel good doing it. Because I feel a great restlessness in me, for which I need an outlet. And one day, I'll reach the point when I can't wait to get out of this kind of life.
And where to, then?
Who knows? Into the great unknown.