Reeves relates to grief of 'John Wick'
by Ahn Sung-mi
Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves, best known for his lead role in “The Matrix” trilogy, arrived in Seoul on Wednesday to promote the Korean release of action flick “John Wick.”
He plays the titular character of John, a retired assassin who returns to a dangerous underworld after a Russian thug murders his puppy, a posthumous gift from his wife, who died of cancer.
“I related to his grief,” Reeves said at a press conference in Seoul on Thursday.
The answer came after a moment of hesitation when a reporter asked what he related to personally in this film. Reeves lost his girlfriend through a fatal car crash in 2001, a year after their baby was delivered stillborn.
He connected with the idea of losing a loved one, what that would feel like, “what it would be like to fight for that grief, if something is taken away from you, in that ‘John Wick’ way.”
In a career spanning three decades, the 50-year-old actor has starred in a number of thrillers and action flicks, including the “Speed” series (1994, 1997) and “Constantine” (2005). But he is known for his emotional and humane approach to acting. When asked what made him take on this hit-man thriller, he simply answered, “I loved the character.”
“I loved how he suffers from his film, his passion, and his will,” said Reeves. “I love that there is the real world and then, there is the underworld.”
He added that the script was fun and it really took people to another place. With good humor, production design, great action and performances, the 101-minute film was a good popcorn movie, said the actor.
But most of all, he said that the film was a lot of fun to make. This is also the reason why he thinks he can still pull off action stunts even at age 50.
“I enjoy it so much,” the actor said. “That helps keep me together.” But he also admitted that he can’t perform all the action sequences that he used to do a lot when he was younger.
Action films have a feeling of power and fantasy that is inherently attractive to people all around the world, he says. “There is something about the feeling of having power, to affect change, whether to save someone or protect someone and how to say right or wrong,” said Reeves.
He thinks that John Wick is also a hero unto himself. “He is fighting for his life, and the memory of his wife,” he said. “He is not only revenging, but he is fighting for the grief and love he feels for his wife who passed away.”
Plus, it was cool to watch the extraordinary explosions, circumstances, actions and characters, he added.
Reeves, who got hooked on martial arts especially after “The Matrix,” said martial arts taught him about attention: “Attention to oneself, to your body, to who you are and how you are.”
Though he is not a practicing Buddhist, he has had the opportunity to meet people who are, which exposed him to the ideas of mortality and interconnectedness, and appreciation for oneself in terms of thoughts, feelings and consequences.
The actor, who visited Korea in 2008 for the local release of the flick “Street Kings,” says he hopes Korean people will enjoy “John Wick” as much as he enjoyed making the film.
“It’s exceptional; it’s fun and action-packed,” he said. “But inside of it, there is something really interesting as well, in terms of fate, about whether someone can really change and protect your own life.”
The actor was to meet South Korean fans at Megabox Coex in Seoul during a red carpet event at 7:20 p.m. on Thursday.
“John Wick” will open in Korea on Jan. 21.