Keanu Reeves Talks 'Knock Knock' and 'John Wick 2'
by Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub
Now playing in theaters and available on VOD is director Eli Roth’s home invasion thriller Knock Knock. The film is a twist on the familiar genre with Keanu Reeves playing Evan Webber, a loving family man who has to stay home and work while his wife and kids head out of town for the weekend. One rainy night, two young women show up and his door; cold, wet, and in desperate need of a phone. Unfortunately for Evan, Bel (Ana de Armas) and Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) aren’t as innocent and helpless as they seem, and his life gets turned upside down.
At the recent Los Angeles press day I landed an exclusive interview with Keanu Reeves. He talked about making Knock Knock, filming in Chile, working with Eli Roth, how the film is Fatal Attraction with social media, John Wick 2, other future projects like Daughter of God, The Neon Demon, The Whole Truth, and The Bad Batch, and a lot more.
Collider: So let’s jump into why I get to talk to you today [Knock Knock]. When you think back on the making of the film, is there a day or two that you’ll always remember, like a memorable moment?
REEVES: Yeah, lots of them I guess. Coming to mind, the character that I play – Evan – in a particular moment, he thinks he’s going to die, that the girls are gonna kill him, and he basically pleads for his life kind of saying, “Why? Why? You did this to me!” It’s his kind of plea, his aria of self-defense. That moment was pretty … we shot it once at the end of the night and I asked to shoot it again and then Eli [Roth] was cool enough to do that. But that aria was a lot of fun.
I don’t wanna get too spoilery, but you’re really putting it out there. You’re like screaming, it’s a really good moment. Was that the take that you asked to redo, was that the one that was used?
So it ended up being the right call.
There’s a lot of this film that you’re tied up, that you’re sort of in captivity. Is that uncomfortable to film? Because you’re really tied up.
REEVES: I am, yeah. I was, except with some extreme … It would have been tough to get out by yourself. But yeah, it took two people to do it because it was artistic, right? It had to look real, but then it also had to have a pleasing aesthetic to it, which Eli designed. He was like, “No, put another wrap around here. No, I want more around the feet. How about over his…?” but that’s part of the reason why I did it. But yeah, after a few hours you’re kind of like, “Can I stand up?” but other than that, it’s a great obstruction to perform with.
Eli mentioned this in his director statement and I would agree, it’s like a Fatal Attraction for the social media age. He said exactly: “Fatal Attraction in the age of social media.” Do you agree with that?
REEVES: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s the Fatal Attraction with social media. Because the girls use it in a way I think it’s hinted at that they surveil him, and they know more about him than he’s expecting them to know, and it’s because of how he’s using or misusing social media, I guess.
From when you got the project and when you met with Eli to what people are gonna see on screen, how much changed along the way?
REEVES: Nothing. If anything, it was we rehearsed for 4 or 5 days in the house. We rehearsed so much that basically we were all off book and it basically turned into a play. Because there was a lot of choreography, there’s like this musical chairs during the seduction scene, we had to work through the violence, and while we were rehearsing the scenes the dialogue was getting tweaked. It was also a way for Eli and the cameraman, the cinematographer, to work out their shots. We could rehearse the scenes and they could talk about camera angles, etc. But in terms of the big picture there was no like, “Oh that scene got cut,” or, “Maybe this should go here,” really.
What was it like meeting with Eli? How did he pitch it to you? Was it an immediate “Yes”? Talk a little bit about the genesis of how you got involved.
REEVES: Yeah. I got a call from one of the producers on the film, Cassian Elwes, who I’d worked with before and he said, “Listen, there’s this project called Knock Knock with Eli Roth,” and right away I was like, “Cool, man. What’s he doing?” So it was pitched and then I spoke with Eli, he was in Chile so we Skyped, and we spoke a bit about his vision and I got the script, read it, thought it was awesome, and we spoke again and I was like, “I’ll see you in Chile.”
Was that one of the appeals of the project, being able to film down there?
REEVES: It certainly wasn’t an impediment or anything that was like, “Oh, no, not Chile!” I like to travel, so I like going to other places to work. I mean, I like working at home in L.A. but I also like going to other places. What was unexpected is that he had… they call it “Chilewood”, him and Nicholas Lopez, and their company Sobras, they had a house, actors, performers, they work with technical crew, actors, actresses, directors, writers, they have a whole community down there, which was really cool to be embraced by and to work with.
How is it when you travel the world? Because you’ve been in so many, I’m gonna use the term “iconic” movies, so many huge films that resonate with a lot of people. Do you find that everywhere you go people wanna talk to you and is there a certain film that everybody wants to talk about?
REEVES: Yeah. I mean, when I travel sometimes I get recognized. And if I do I guess the top films are probably the Matrix trilogy, that’s probably the top film is the Matrix trilogy, and Point Break and Speed. And then Constantine and Devil’s Advocate, Bill and Ted. Then you get stuff like A Scanner Darkly.
Yeah you’ve hit all of the major things.
REEVES: River’s Edge.
Yeah! You know.
REEVES: Oh, I got one from Little Buddha the other day too.
I need to ask you about the movie that I’m incredibly excited about, which is the sequel to John Wick, I’ve said again and again how much I loved that fucking movie
REEVES: Oh, great. Yeah.
I am anxious and when the CEO of Lionsgate announced that it could be a franchise or a sequel or whatever the fuck he said, sorry for my language.
I was very happy, because sometimes Hollywood makes shitty sequels.
REEVES: No, there’s a great pressure. I mean, Chad Stahelski, the director, spoke about how there’s one challenge of the first film, but then the second one it’s like the second record, it’s like, “What do you do now?” And so yeah there’s a big concern and we don’t want it to fucking suck. I think we have a really good premise and it’s an organic premise and it’s basically, to me there’s John Wick and then there’s John. You know, John is the married guy whose wife has died and that five years of his life; and then there’s John Wick who’s the mythical assassin. And in this, John Wick’s past comes and infiltrates John’s life, and John Wick, in a way, has to fight for John.
One of the things that resonates with everyone who has seen the movie is: you don’t fuck with the dog. There’s that emotional connection where everyone is like, “Just kill them all”, based on that. So I guess what I’m saying is, that has a very strong emotional resonance, so is there a pressure to top that emotional hit, if you will?
REEVES: I don’t know if it’s to top that emotional hit, but it’s certainly to have an emotional hit like, “Why tell the story? Why do we need to do this again? How do we do that without doing another dog?” So we speak about John Wick, the next chapter, and what is that emotional hook, what is that? So I think we have a good idea of that.
One of the things I loved, and everyone loved, was all the stuff at the Hotel Continental. It was like a world within the world and it was just really cool. Does that hotel, that inner world, is that part of the sequel?
REEVES: Yeah. I mean, Chad and the writer, Derek Kolstad, they’ve really listened to what people have enjoyed about the work and how they speak about it. So there’s definitely that influence of the other world – the Continental world, the look, the feel, what is about the movie, what made people like it – is definitely being payed attention to and the world opens up in this chapter.
I heard you’re filming in the fall. Do you know when your filming it?
REEVES: We’re scheduled to start at the end of October, maybe. Right now that’s kind of the target date but we’ll see.
But it’s pretty soon.
REEVES: Yeah. Hopefully pretty soon. Yeah.
Are you guys doing New York again?
That’s very cool. There’s a lot of cool locations in the city that can be used.
REEVES: Yeah, yeah. We’ve just touched the surface.
One of the things that I really respected about the first one is the different and varied action set pieces. There was a lot of physicality and it didn’t feel like any action set piece was repeating itself, they all seemed different. Is there a challenge in your mind in topping that, and how have you maybe been working with 87Eleven, have you already started on that?
REEVES: Yeah. I started training a couple of months ago. We’re gonna do the same kind of thing in the sense of what are the guiding principle, and so it’s longer takes, know where you are on the space, who’s doing what, action with consequence. And then going to other levels of what the gun-fu was, which was Jujitsu, Judo mixed with weapons and different styles of weapon training. So we’ve been opening up, I’ve been learning some other tools and different styles of that and trying to develop some more techniques in terms of Judo and Jujitsu and bring those elements into the work. And then we have some other things that might be a little different.
I like the tease. But I’m also impressed with the fact…
REEVES But it’s all organic. It’s not like all of a sudden John Wick has superpowers, it’s got to be connected to the character. For me it’s character, character, character and for Chad as well, and Derek.
I guess I have one more question, do you envision this for you as a new franchise? Because the first one was so, I mean critically, people loved it and it did very well, and if the second one performs, is this something that you’re really down with the character, did you think this could be a franchise?
REEVES: No, I still don’t know. I mean, I think for me I’m interested in what happens to the guy and in this world. So when we were speaking about it, obviously it did well enough for the investors to want to do another one, which is cool, and it’s great to have the opportunity to further the story. But we had to come up with a reason why, and we came up with a reason that was good enough, that didn’t suck, and we’re just trying to make it better and better. In terms of a franchise, I don’t know, until you do it and it’s done, you don’t know, because it’s not source material, this is original goodness.
Original IP. It’s nice.
REEVES: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Which is cool because there’s almost nothing you can’t do except just don’t be shitty, and so we’re trying not to be. And if it succeeds hopefully, knock on wood, we get to make a great movie.
I asked you last time I spoke to you when you might get behind the camera again. Obviously it’s not anytime soon, but have you been reading scripts, are you trying to develop and get behind the camera again?
REEVES: I’ve been developing some stuff but only on the actor side. I have not found that story yet to direct.
Sure. So nothing has sort of peeked up, or was there something that was close?
REEVES: Yeah there have but…Ehh.
Well getting back to the acting, it does seem like you’ve been acting on a lot of cool projects recently, almost non-stop. I have a list and obviously The Neon Demon, which I cannot…
REEVES: NEON DEMON IS AWESOME!
Let’s talk about that real fast. Have you seen a rough cut, have you seen anything?
REEVES: No, I haven’t.
Obviously I’m very excited about that.
REEVES: Yeah. The Bad Batch, Ana Lily [Amirpour], fantastic. That’s gonna be crazy. Both of those films are gonna rock people’s worlds.
Daughter of God, The Neon Demon, The Whole Truth, The Bad Batch.
REEVES: Oh yeah The Whole Truth! Interesting court room drama.
But either way that’s like four projects!
REEVES: Yeah. But I was supporting roles. I mean, The Whole Truth, I was the lead but in Neon Demon and The Bad Batch, I was supporting character.
Before we get in to the film stuff I actually have to ask, with John Wick 2 going, what’s the story with Rain?
REEVES: We’re kind of still in development. The series was picked up by Cinemax, not picked up to do but we’re still the script approval phase. So there have been iterations of the draft and we’re basically, I guess, still in studio notes, so we’re waiting on the next draft to present to the studio to see if they want to greenlight it.
I wonder if it’s gonna be one of these things where, after John Wick 2, when that’s moving and they realize, “Wait a minute,” I wonder if that’s gonna help push the momentum on Rain.
REEVES: Yeah. I don’t think it’s the lack of momentum, I think it’s just we’re still dealing with the creative. Cinemax/HBO seems really excited about it, so there’s no lack of interest, it’s just we’ve had notes and the notes have been making the series better. So it’s just really more creative.
I want to reiterate that, “The notes are making the series better.” It’s so rare to hear that.
REEVES: Yeah but they do. I mean they can and they can’t. There’s good notes and bad notes, and it’s always subjective, but in this case they’ve been really good about sharing what kind of series they want and what this could look like. They were good notes to what we’ve been doing. The writers and showrunners are really excited about it and we should be getting a draft pretty soon to go to the next phase.