Keanu Reeves: "I haven't found true love yet"
(Translated from French by LucaM, translation edited by Anakin McFly)
INTERVIEW - He made his comeback in a martial arts film for which he had to learn Japanese. The eternal hero of the "Matrix" trilogy has lost none of his spirit.
by Henry Arnaud
Between 2007 and 2009, the actor was almost part of the Lausanne landscape for family reasons: his sister, Kim, who was suffering from leukemia, had long been hospitalized in the region. Keanu Reeves then plunged back into work, be it in China to make his first film, "Man of Tai Chi", or in Budapest for the production of "47 Ronin", soon to be on screens. "I haven't done this amount of exercise in almost two years. I'm cool as the Gardon," he said before starting the interview.
In your opinion, what's the most common misconception about you?
That I'm a sad and depressed guy. But on the contrary I'm rather jovial and I love laughing.
You've had your share of tragedies, losing the child that your girlfriend, Jennifer Syme ,was bearing, and then she died in a car accident in 1999.
Show me a person who's never had any problems in their life; that doesn't exist. Yes, I've experienced hardships, but I've not had the feeling of carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I live in the present, not the past.
Yet you seem drawn to tragic characters such as the one in "47 Ronin," to be released on April 2 ...
That is true. There's a certain sadness in my character, Kai, and I admire the grace he has shown in front of the samurai who reneged him. Kai has no desire for revenge.
Your character was created for this film?
In Japan, "47 Ronin" is a tale that parents have been telling their children for generations. It's also taught in schools. It's part of how they teach loyalty and sacrifice. There were multiple versions of it, for TV as well as movies, but this is the first time a large modern adaptation has tried to introduce this saga to the rest of the world. This is why the plot was partially modified to incorporate Kai. "47 Ronin" is as important to Japan as westerns are for America.
What memories do you have of your training for the fight scenes?
Gruelling! It's in those moments that I begin to feel the weight of my years. (Laughs.) I struggled a lot with learning swordsmanship with both hands, a movement that gives it a certain elegance. I learned the choreography for each scene as we progressed with filming.
What were the other challenges?
Shooting each scene in both English and in Japanese. I certainly would have been faster if I had been asked to make a film in French because I have at least some basic knowledge of the language, although I am far from able to express myself fluently with it.
What can you say in French?
I can choose my dishes from a restaurant menu, ask for directions in the street and I also know some swear words. But the rest is more difficult.
You'll be celebrating your 50th birthday on September 2. Looking back, how do you see your career?
I've been lucky to get interesting films since I began, and this was further accentuated in the last ten years. I've been offered fabulous and different roles since the success of "The Matrix." It's partly down to luck, the millions of dollars earned by the trilogy and perhaps also thanks to my skills... I think I've been getting better over the years. I contemplate arriving at fifty with serenity.
Do you sometimes think what your life might have been like if you had not left Canada for Hollywood?
From 6 to 20, I grew up in Canada. As a teen, my only passion was playing hockey, just like millions of other young people. I trained a lot and I dreamed of being part of the Canadian national team at the Olympics. That was before discovering comedy at 15 years old. I registered to take art and drama classes, I started doing theater with a local troupe. My first play changed my life.
You've co-starred several times with Sandra Bullock. Is she your favorite partner?
Let's say that I think we're a lovely couple, but only on screen. From the golden age of Hollywood, I appreciate mythical couples like Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. And it has nothing to do with their private lives. I think it's nice to see the same duos on screen over the decades. I'd love to work with Sandra again on another film.
Do you believe in eternal love?
I'm the wrong guy to answer that, and I'm not the person to ask a question about eternal love because if there is, I haven't found it yet. But I think there is a perfect person for each of us and that our whole life would fall into place if we're lucky enough to find that rare gem. When you find love with a big L, your life becomes a series of perfect moments.
What do you think of the adaptation of one of your greatest hits, "Point Break", as a stage parody? It's been generating a lot of laughter in the United States.
I love it! The comedic undercurrent of "Point Break" has never escaped me. Patrick Swayze and I were quite aware that some scenes would lend themselves to parody. Likewise, the "erotic" side of our two surfer roles was also evident. Kathryn Bigelow, who directed the film, wanted to push everything to the extreme, be it in action, rivalry or friendship between the two characters.