The Best Keanu Reeves Role Is The One You Don’t Know About
by Josh Wigler
Keanu Reeves turns 51 years young today (September 2), and what better way to celebrate his birthday by honoring his best character ever? When you think of the best Reeves roles of all time, there are a few obvious places for your head to turn, like Thomas “Neo” Anderson... Jack Traven... Any of the various Johns, especially Mnemonic, Utah and Wick... And, of course, Theodore “Ted” Logan...
But these are not the best Keanu Reeves roles of all time. They are the ones most readily accessible, sure, and they’re all terrific — but his greatest role is one he has in common with his “Bill & Ted” character...
Ortiz the Dog Boy.
Don’t recognize him? Not surprised. Ortiz the Dog Boy is the leader of the freaks in “Freaked,” one of the weirdest movies of the early 1990s, from the sick mind of Alex Winter, the Bill to Keanu’s Ted.
In “Freaked,” Winter plays Ricky Coogan, super famous and super smarmy. He becomes the corporate spokesperson for E.E.S., the Everything Except Shoes company — and then, through a series of unfortunate events, he also becomes a freak.
Ricky encounters a whole bunch of fellow freaks when he becomes an unwitting attraction at a South American theme park owned and operated by Elijah C. Skuggs, played by Randy Quaid, the man who saved the entirety of Earth from aliens in “Independence Day.” He is much more malevolent here in “Freaked,” with hearing so uncanny he can hear the sound of a styrofoam cup hitting the ground from several buildings away.
What does all of this have to do with Reeves? Glad you asked! He’s one of the freaks. In fact, he’s the freak before Ricky shows up and usurps Ortiz’s dominance. Ortiz and Ricky nearly kill each other during a knife versus thumb-claw fight, all because the Dog Boy believes he can’t add another milkman to his posse. (“Twelve milkmen is theoretically possible,” he says. “Thirteen… is silly.”)
The fight breaks up when Ortiz sees a squirrel in the distance and decides to chase it. He’s never heard from again until the very end of the movie, when he shows up on a daytime talk show hosted by Brooke Shields.
Reeves went uncredited in the role, and it took a long time for “Freaked” freaks (or at least this “Freaked” freak) to realize that Reeves and Ortiz were one and the same. It’s an absurd character, completely unusual in the entire Reeves catalogue, and easily his best role without peer. Eat it, Klaatu.