Keanu Reeves, an antihero in new movie
by Kwon Ji-youn
A clean-shaven Keanu Reeves, looking sharp in a black suit, appeared at the JW Marriott Hotel in southern Seoul, Thursday, looking genuinely happy to be in Korea to promote his film.
The actor apologized many times for being late to the press conference and made up for the delay by speaking earnestly about his new movie "John Wick."
Reeves, now 50, will take on the role of a retired assassin, John Wick, who seeks vengeance for the deaths of his wife and dog. As he has more often than not been the hero, John Wick, an antihero, had presented a change and a challenge for Reeves, but one that he could identify with.
"For John Wick, he's a hero to himself," Reeves said. "It's not only about revenge _ he's fighting for his inner life, the grief and love he feels for his wife. It's great to be able to play both the hero and the antihero."
Reeves doesn't look at all like he's 50, but he says he feels the weight of his age when he's performing stunts.
"I was very fortunate to have great people teaching me stunts in John Wick," he said. "We wanted to use judo, jujitsu and gun-fu, and I also did driving stunts, which were a lot of fun."
He continued, "The things I could do when I was younger like splits or jumping high, I can't do as much as I used to, but with all the experience I have in action, it has made me more efficient in terms of learning choreography."
He recalled the stunts he performed in the 1999 film "Matrix" as having been more difficult, but he stressed that without that experience he wouldn't have been able to pull off John Wick. Reeves added that the directors had referenced Korean cinema for some of the action scenes in John Wick.
"Korea is experienced with fantastic action, and I know that the directors were inspired by the cinema that comes from here," he said.
Reeves said that he selected this film as his 2015 opener because he loves action, especially if there's a good story and character to it.
"I love the script of John Wick and the character," he said. "I love how he suffers during the film and I love his passion and his will… The humor, the action, the production design and tone of the picture was something unique."
Reeves attributed the popularity of such "hero" movies in Asia, and around the world, to the enjoyment of fantasy.
"You could write a book on the success or appreciation for action films from audiences around the world," he said. "It's a very full question. Speaking for my side in terms of the action I've had chances to do, I think that it's not only about how cool it is to watch the extraordinary, but also about wish fulfillment, and about affecting a change or righting a wrong. I think these stories are attractive to cultures and people around the world."
He stressed that all markets are important to any actor, and that the Asian market is no different.
"As an actor, you hope people will enjoy the work that you do, wherever that may be," he said. "You hope that what you do can link the theater with something positive."