Keanu Reeves on the Horrors of Exposed
by Chris Tilly
Actor discusses Neon Demon, Bad Batch and Exposed.
Keanu Reeves plays troubled New York cop Scotty Galban in Exposed, a dark thriller about corruption and murder that goes to some deeply unpleasant places. The film hits UK screens and on demand February 26, so to coincide with the release, we talked to Reeves about the making of the movie, the troubles that went on behind-the-scenes, and the pair of horror films he shot straight after.
IGN: What was the appeal of Exposed?
Keanu Reeves: I really enjoyed… well enjoyed is a tough word because I think the story is tough… but thinking about the Galban character, I liked this kind of defeated person. This man who is down in the job, he’s separated from his kid, his wife, his partner dead. But as he tries to survive and figure out what’s happened, I really responded to the struggle of the script. I feel like it deals with the consequences of sexual violence, so I was drawn to these two stories. These two completely different circumstances. One the Ana de Armas character being the victim, and the revenge aspect of my partner’s death and how the two sides come together in this moment of becoming exposed and the tragedy of the consequences.
IGN: How did you become a producer on the film?
Reeves: I was given the script by the director Gee Linton. It’s a script he wrote, and I met him while I was working in New York. So I signed on board to try and find a situation where we could get the picture made.
IGN: Did producing change your role on set?
Reeves: It depends on what role you end up taking as the producer on it. For me it was more of trying to set up the project. Definitely while you’re working on it you’re looking at the different hires. Gee came with a producing partner – Robin Gurland – so that team had already been set up. So as you’re working on it you’re trying to put it in the best place possible, with Gee as a first time director.
IGN: It sounds like it wasn’t the easiest shoot.
Reeves: Ultimately it worked out really difficultly. The director ended up taking his name off the picture, which was really tough, and a tragedy. And so the cut that’s showing of the movie is orientated much more towards, not really the suspense elements of it, but the studio’s kind of releasing it as this sort of cop thriller. And it’s definitely not that.
IGN: So is the film that’s getting released quite different to the script that you signed up for?
Reeves: Yeah. In that sense definitely. I think [there's] some of what the director-writer Gee was intending. I think it’s certainly not as realised – a lot of the Spanish is different, some of the other world has been diminished. I think the kernel or the intention of the piece is still there, but maybe its intention certainly is not as fully realised as the director had hoped.
IGN: It builds to a pretty horrific conclusion, and you seem to have signed up to several films in the horror genre of late. Has that been a conscious decision?
Reeves: Absolutely not. I like the genre. I did a picture with Nicolas Refn that’s got some kind of horror aspects to it. Ana Lili Amirpour – her project The Bad Batch has some. I don’t know – maybe it was just one of those moons. The genre is quite cool in that all of those genre pictures can sometimes be Trojan Horses for ideas and confrontation.
IGN: What was it like working with Nicolas on The Neon Demon?
Reeves: He’s lovely. He’s a really fine director. I really enjoy his films and working with him was a pleasure.
IGN: How weird is that film going to get?
Reeves: I don’t know – I haven’t seen it. But the script was really fantastic and working on it was great.
IGN: And what was it like working with Ana Lili?
Reeves: A real visionary and a wonderful writer. Working with her was fantastic. Both Nicolas and her are great collaborators, but they also have a really strong vision, and I really enjoy that. Really trying to realise the director’s vision. They’re certainly ambitious projects.
IGN: Will that one also get weird?
Reeves: It has the potential. I don’t know if both of these projects are weird, but they’re definitely not normal. They both have kind of traditional structures in a way, but they certainly are pushing the boundaries of what’s normal… traditional storytelling whether it’s the drama, the character, the romance, the comedy, but through these extraordinary circumstances. And definitely Exposed is like that as well. The family drama that Ana’s character is in, and me as a potboiler cop sort of thing in a whodunit. But underneath – which gets revealed through the course of it – the driving engine behind it is this sexual violence; this victimisation.
IGN: It feels like it defies genre.
Reeves: Yeah. It’s definitely confronting that. Which to me is interesting – I like pushing that.