Izvestia (Ru), March 18, 2017

Keanu Reeves: "Siberia is one of the most mysterious places on Earth"

The Hollywood actor – on shooting a film about Russia, his family problems and the composition of Japanese haiku

by Elena Palmer

(Translated from Russian with Google Translate, edits by Anakin McFly. Note: The legitimacy of this interview has been disputed.)

In Canada, shooting has begun on the film 'Siberia', in which Keanu Reeves plays a charming American con artist who heads into the Russian outback. In a small Siberian town, he gets into a fight with the local mafia and falls passionately in love with Katya, the owner of a café. Izvestia spoke with the actor at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in West Hollywood.

After John Wick, you'll be fighting bandits from our country again. In Hollywood, are there are still stereotypes about the Russian mafia?

In “Siberia”, the criminals' nationality will not play any role. My hero is fighting diamond dealers. This is an international business. Even then, my character himself isn't innocent. He's trying to illegally sell a batch of blue diamonds. And Siberia gets chosen because it's one of the most mysterious places on Earth, which adventurers from all over the world dream about visiting.

And yet we have the feeling that in Hollywood, they don't really understand the specifics about Russia. When in John Wick, a character is relaxing in the bath with girls of a certain profession, and he sings them the children's lullaby 'A gray wolf will come', our audience involuntarily starts giggling. And when it becomes known that John's nickname is Baba Yaga, there's just epic laughter.

You, Russians, don't understand that all of this – and the song, and Baba Yaga – was just inserted to attract your viewers, and not the other way around. The film's producer, Basil Iwanyk, has Russian roots, and maybe he just drew from childhood memories of how his grandmother sang him lullabies and told him stories.

Maybe this time the authors of the film should take a closer look at these national characteristics and invite a professional consultant, instead of relying on someone's childhood memories?

I'll do everything I can to ensure that Russian viewers are satisfied. I asked that before shooting started the scriptwriter and director travel just a couple of months around the country, to get to know more closely the people, culture and traditions. In the end, to make Man of Tai Chi, I spent a total of six months in Hong Kong. I immersed myself in the philosophy and history of martial arts, got acquainted with the masters, learnt the language, I went to training. And while working on 47 Ronin, I lived in Japan, learned the language and culture of the country. With the film about Russia it will be the same. Or I'll give up the role.

But you will be shooting in Canada?

Yes, in Winnipeg. But not because we don't want to go to Russia. Just that it's technically more convenient and cheaper.

You've tried to speak Russian in John Wick. In Siberia, it'll obviously also be necessary. Did you manage to brush up on the language?

I understand Russian well. Now I've read Hamlet in Russian. It's my favorite role, and I know the English text by heart – therefore it's easy in Russian. It's difficult with the pronunciation. But I'm working on it.

You, like Hamlet, had serious family problems. Your father left the family, mother married three times…

When you're betrayed by your parents – it's really hard. I longed for my father as a child. I was offended. Angry. But then I realized that the 'parent-child' relationship is inviolable. Sometimes your father might be a half-wit, crazy, scoundrel, murderer, or, like mine, a drug addict. And he is still your father. You must forgive him and keep his image in your heart. I have forgiven. As Hamlet forgave his mother. As for my stepfathers – no, I did not have any problems with them. On the contrary, I am grateful to my mother for these men in our lives – each one taught me something.

One of your stepfathers is a musician, and the other one works in film. And both now live in Hollywood. Do you see them?

Of course. Bob gave me the first guitar and taught me how to play it. I was 11 years old, and until 2002, I played bass guitar and sang in the rock band Dogstar. Bob's son, Greg, played lead guitar and also sang. We traveled all over the world with concerts. And to Paul, I owe the fact that I got into the movies. But I've already said that many times.

Yes, he introduced you to his friend Erwin Stoff – then a novice manager, who became your agent and got you your first small role. But recently, there was a rumour that you tried to break your contract with him. How did that end?

I was not trying to break the contract. It was signed for a period of 32 years, when I was 18. The 32 years have passed. And the contract has ended.

Erwin has been helpful to you?

Of course. Before The Matrix. And I for him – after. (laughs)

You mean he earned a lot from you?

It's not about the money. Erwin acquired great experience and became a major producer, established his own production company (3 Arts Entertainment). And I my own (Company Films).

So you're producing Siberia?

Not me personally, but my partner and co-founder of our company, Steven Hamel. It was he who was behind the idea. So – all complaints to him (laughs)

What do you think is the secret of a successful film?

You cannot make a work of art in order to make money. All who make films just for the sake of earnings are doomed to oblivion. Art – it is something good, it's what will remain of humanity when all of us are gone. Completely surrender to the work and don't think about money – that's the whole secret.

In John Wick, you were acting alongside dogs – a beagle puppy and a pit bull. Was the shoot attended by observers from the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)?

Yes, they did. It's an inevitable formality. But they had nothing special to do. Dogs are our colleagues. We are responsible for them. And we have no right to put their lives at risk. Why torment the animals and get them fly on ropes? The viewer is not a fool and can see through the image. They are simply in the frame – and that's enough. Pit bulls, by the way, they were three – they're just the same colour.

Some viewers were skeptical about the story of the murder of the puppy. Evenly calculated, for one puppy you take the lives of 77 people, if you consider both films.

The puppy is a symbol of innocence, angelic purity. I think that most viewers still understand that. Otherwise, the film would not have been so successful.

In the first version of the script, John lived with an old dog of his wife's. That is, the bandits killed the old dog. But in the process of working on the script we decided – it's better if it be a puppy. There were animal lovers on our team. I remember when the first script readings took place, some of them burst into tears. And about the deaths of people – well, it's an action movie. Let's count how many I've put down on the screen over my entire career. It turns out that I have long earned a life sentence (laughs).

And in the movie Siberia, are you accidentally attacked by a Russian bear?

No. But in the storyboard, I saw a huge tabby on the bar.

You're not only acting in films and have performed with a rock band, but you also write books. Your frequent collaborator is the famous artist and photographer Alexandra Grant – who has Russian origins. Are there plans to translate your work into Russian?

If anybody expresses the desire to do so, I'll be glad. But for that, the translator should be able to appreciate Japanese haiku poetry, in which you use just a few words to articulate what you feel at the moment. It's not as easy as it might seem.

Usually, when people talk about their feelings, they shout, wave their arms, fall on their knees – and as a result they look ridiculous. Through haiku, you express your feelings while maintaining your dignity. I advise everyone to try it. The task – say a lot, using just a few words.

But if the first book was an expression of my 'I' – it's my idea, energy, then the second collaboration is more of a look at me from the outside. It was Alexandra's idea. At first she just photographed me for her exhibition. And then she said: write haiku for the photos. It turned out being something like Japanese shadow theatre.

And it begs comparison with Twitter (your haiku) and Instagram (Alexandra's photos). Do you, by the way, know that you have fan clubs on Russian social networks?

Yes, they told me. Here's a shoutout to my Russian audience, and I hope that my next films will not disappoint.

In its original Russian:

Киану Ривз: «Сибирь — одно из самых загадочных мест на Земле»

Голливудский актер — о съемках в фильме про Россию, семейных проблемах и сочинении японских хайку

В Канаде стартовали съемки фильм Siberia, в котором Киану Ривз сыграет обаятельного американского мошенника, отправляющегося в российскую глубинку. В маленьком сибирском городке он вступает в бой с местной мафией и страстно влюбляется в Катю, хозяйку кафе. Корреспондент «Известий» побеседовала с актером в отеле «Шато Мармон» в Западном Голливуде.

— После «Джона Уика» ты опять собираешься бороться с бандитами из нашей страны. В Голливуде по-прежнему существуют стереотипы о русской мафии?

— В «Сибири» национальность криминала не будет играть никакой роли. Мой герой борется с торговцами алмазами. Это международный бизнес. Тем более что мой персонаж и сам не в белой жилетке. Он пытается нелегально реализовать партию голубых алмазов. А Сибирь выбрана потому, что это одно из самых загадочных и таинственных мест на Земле, где мечтают побывать любители приключений со всего мира.

— И всё же у нас есть ощущение, что в Голливуде не очень понимают русскую специфику. Когда в «Джоне Уике» герой, отдыхая в бане с девушками определенной профессии, поет с ними детскую колыбельную «Придет серенький волчок», наш зритель невольно начинает смеяться. А когда становится известно, что прозвище Джона — Баба-яга, тут уж хохот просто гомерический.

— Вы, русские, никак не можете понять, что всё это — и песенка, и Баба-яга — появилось как раз с целью привлечь ваших зрителей, а не наоборот. Продюсер фильма Бэзил Иванюк имеет русские корни, и наверное, он просто использовал свои детские воспоминания о том, как бабушка пела ему колыбельные и рассказывала сказки.

— Может, на сей раз авторам фильма стоит повнимательней отнестись к национальным особенностям и пригласить профессионального консультанта вместо того, чтобы опираться на чьи-то воспоминания детства?

— Я сделаю всё от меня зависящее, чтобы русские зрители остались довольны. Я попросил, чтобы перед началом съемок мы со сценаристом и режиссером просто поездили пару месяцев по стране, познакомились поближе с жителями, культурой, традициями. В конце концов, чтобы снять «Мастера Тай-цзи», я провел в Гонконге в общей сложности полгода. Погружался в философию и историю боевых искусств, знакомился с мастерами, учил язык, ходил на тренировки. А во время работы над «47 ронинами» жил в Японии, изучал язык и культуру этой страны. С фильмом про Россию теперь будет так же. Или я откажусь от роли.

— Но снимать вы все-таки будете в Канаде?

— Да, в Виннипеге. Но не потому, что мы не хотим ехать в Россию. Просто так технически удобнее и дешевле.

— Ты уже пытался разговаривать по-русски в «Джоне Уике». В «Сибири», очевидно, тоже придется. Удалось подучить язык?

— Я понимаю русский неплохо. Сейчас читаю «Гамлета» по-русски. Это моя любимая роль, я знаю английский текст наизусть — поэтому и по-русски идет легко. Трудно с произношением. Но я работаю над этим.

— У тебя, как и у Гамлета, были серьезные семейные проблемы. Отец бросил семью, мама трижды выходила замуж...

— Когда тебя предают твои родители — это действительно тяжело. Я тосковал по своему отцу в детстве. Обижался. Сердился. Но потом я понял, что связь «родитель–ребенок» — нерушима. Иногда твоим отцом может оказаться недоумок, псих, мерзавец, убийца или, как у меня, наркоман. И всё равно он остается твоим отцом.

Ты должен простить его и хранить его образ в твоем сердце. Я простил. Как Гамлет прощает свою мать. Что же касается моих отчимов — нет, с ними у меня не было проблем. Наоборот, я признателен маме за этих мужчин в нашей жизни — каждый чему-нибудь да научил.

— Один из твоих отчимов — музыкант, а другой имеет отношение к кино. И оба живут сейчас в Голливуде. Вы встречаетесь?

— Конечно. Боб подарил мне первую гитару и научил на ней играть. Я же 11 лет вплоть до 2002 года играл на бас-гитаре и пел в рок-группе Dogstar. Сын Боба, Грэг, играл у нас на соло-гитаре и тоже пел. Мы объехали весь мир с концертами. А Полу я обязан тем, что попал в кино. Но я об этом уже много раз рассказывал.

— Да, это он познакомил тебя со своим другом Эрвином Штоффом — тогда начинающим менеджером, который сразу стал твоим агентом и добыл для тебя первые маленькие роли. Но недавно прошел слух, что ты пытался разорвать ваш с ним договор. Чем всё закончилось?

— Я не пытался разорвать контракт. Он был подписан на срок в 32 года, когда мне было 18. Эти 32 года прошли. И контракт закончился.

— Эрвин был тебе полезен?

— Конечно. До «Матрицы». А я ему — после (смеется).

— Ты хочешь сказать, он неплохо на тебе заработал?

— Дело не в деньгах. Эрвин приобрел огромный опыт и стал крупным продюсером, организовал собственную продюсерскую компанию (3 Arts Entertаinment. — «Известия»). А я — свою (Company Films. — «Известия»).

— Так ты сам продюсируешь «Сибирь»?

— Не я лично, но мой партнер и соучредитель нашей компании Стивен Хэймел. Именно он — автор идеи. Если что — все претензии к нему (смеется).

— В чем по-твоему секрет удачного фильма?

— Нельзя делать произведение искусства с целью заработать деньги. Все, кто делают кино только ради заработка, обречены на забвение. Искусство — это то хорошее, что останется от человечества, когда нас всех не станет. Полностью отдаваться работе и не думать о деньгах — вот и весь секрет.

— С тобой в «Джоне Уике» снимались собаки — щенок бигля и питбуль. На съемках присутствовали наблюдатели из Общества защиты животных?

— Да, присутствовали. Это неизбежная формальность. Но у нас этим ребятам особо нечем было заняться. Собаки — наши коллеги. Мы за них в ответе. И не имеем права подвергать их жизни риску. Зачем мучать животных и заставлять их летать на тросах? Зритель же не дурак и сам может додумать картинку. Они просто в кадре — и этого достаточно. А питбулей, кстати, было трое — просто они одинакового окраса.

— Некоторые зрители скептически восприняли историю с убийством щенка. Даже подсчитали, что за одного щенка ты лишаешь жизни 77 человек, если считать оба фильма.

— Щенок — это символ невинности, ангельской чистоты. Думаю, что большинство зрителей это все-таки понимают. Иначе фильм не был бы таким успешным.

В первом варианте сценария у Джона жила старая собака его жены. То есть бандиты убивали старого пса. Но в процессе работы над сценарием решили — пусть лучше будет щенок. У нас в команде подобрались любители животных. Помню, когда были первые читки сценария по ролям, многие даже расплакались. А по поводу гибели людей — ну это же экшен. Давай тогда уж считать, скольких я уложил на экране за всю свою карьеру. Получится, что я уже давно заработал на пожизненное заключение (смеется).

— А в фильме «Сибирь» русский медведь на тебя случайно не нападает?

— Нет. Но на раскадровке я видел огромного полосатого кота, расположившегося на барной стойке.

— Ты не только снимаешься в кино и выступаешь с рок-группой, но и пишешь книги. Твой постоянный соавтор — известный художник и фотограф Александра Грант — русского происхождения. Нет ли в планах перевода ваших работ на русский язык?

— Если кто-нибудь выразит такое желание — я буду только рад. Но для этого переводчик должен хорошо чувствовать японскую поэзию хайку, в которой ты в нескольких словах можешь сформулировать, что чувствуешь в настоящий момент. Это не так легко, как может показаться.

Обычно люди, рассказывая о своих чувствах, кричат, размахивают руками, падают на колени — и в результате выглядят смешно. Через хайку же ты выражаешь свои чувства, сохраняя при этом собственное достоинство. Каждому советую попробовать. Задача — сказать многое, используя всего несколько слов.

Но если первая книга была выражением моего «я» — там моя идея, энергетика, то второе издание скорее взгляд на меня со стороны. Это была идея Александры. Сначала она просто фотографировала меня для своей выставки. А потом сказала: напиши хайку к фотографиям. Получилось что-то вроде японского театра теней.

— А у меня напрашивается сравнение с Twitter (твои хайку) и Instagram (фотографии Александры). Ты, кстати, знаешь, что в российских соцсетях есть твои фан-клубы?

— Да, мне говорили. Передаю привет всем российским зрителям и надеюсь, что мои следующие киноработы их не разочаруют.


Article Focus:



Siberia, John Wick, Man of Tai Chi, 47 Ronin, Dogstar, Matrix, The, 10ode, Shadows, Translated from Russian


GuestWell? (2017-05-19 21:43:20)
 If I have to be the first to say this article is a fabrication, so be it. Good questions and someone did some intense Keanu research. But it's not Keanu's answers.
Anakin McFly
(2017-05-19 21:49:12)

I'm curious - what makes you think so? (If it's the speaking style, that's down to it being a translation.)
GuestRespect & Salute (2017-05-19 22:35:15)
 There's no fabrication especially when hes exposed his fondness feelings toward his father, Sam. Hes forgiven person & that extremely great for his mental & spiritual well being. Wish someday Charlie is able to re-build his r/ship with Sam & have a chance to settle down. All The Best to this Marvellous Man ~
GuestWhy (2017-05-19 23:53:25)
 Why is this a fabrication? Keanu tend to be more open when interviewed by foreign countries. And he must have heard about the complaints about some of Russian translation errors in john Wick so him being a perfectionist, this is an important topic for him. He is probably trying to calm Russians fans down by being more open about his personal life, lol.
He has a lot of fans over there and they're one of the major markets so there is more responsibility.

I like this interview, thanks for posting.

Taluthah (2017-05-20 03:15:18)
 I agree the way of speaking is not like native English interviews. But Google Translate is a mess - even while translating German to English and vice versa the style of speaking and writing is gone. And these languages are both Germanic languages. So, just imagine the mess translating Russian to English a Slavic to a Germanic language. So, I think it's just a problem of translation and consequently the style should not be used to decide if the article is fabricated or not.

The content however seems quite in line with the information in other interviews. And I appreciate his tendency to not make any internal conflicts between family, friends and business partners a public affair. I consider this a clever decision.

(2017-05-20 04:02:14)
 Taluthah - on top of that, let's consider that the original interview was conducted in English, which was translated in Russian, which then got translated back to English... double mess :)

While the phrasing might seem clumsy sometimes due to translation, to me it doesn't seem 'fabricated'. It contains info which has been mentioned in other interviews - like there being three dogs used for filming - but also new stuff which I haven't read elsewhere.

Is the interview 'authentic'? we have no way of knowing for sure. But we run an archive, so into the archive it goes...

GuestAnother good question for an authentic interview (2017-05-21 22:51:42)
 Can you read Hamlet in Russian? I can guess he will say uh, no. BTW the Russian fansite says its fabricated also.
Anakin McFly
(2017-05-21 23:19:37)

Do you have a link to where the Russian fansite says so?
Guest32 years! (2017-05-22 16:59:25)
 While reading this interview, I thought how Keanu has opened up (and I am glad). I've read many past interviews of his and this one has some news things I've not seen him mentioning before (hope it's not a fake interview as some said) He signed a 32-years contract at 18. Wow! I hope his manager treated him well and fair. Japanese hiaku poetry ...and he knows Russian... hmm interesting. Definitely a smart and fascinating man!
GuestI sent Anakin (2017-05-28 06:23:06)
 an email. I hope that DA address still good.
GuestNatalya Svetlova (2017-06-04 03:42:41)
 It's all fake! I'm from Russia. I have a fansite. Everyone who knows Keanu will tell you he would never say such things. Shame on the Russian newspaper! Keanu's just been here in St.Petersburg. I saw him and I listened to him and he knows only a few words in Russian. He can't read Hamlet in Russian. That's ridiculous. They shoud have written he read Chekhov or Dostoevsky in Russian. That would have been more like the truth. What did they hope for to write such stupid things? People are not all fools. Disgusting.
Guest (2017-06-06 08:09:22)
 Emmm i would be surprised if this was fake. What do they get out of it? I dont know....it feels real to me for some reason, the way the interviewer was persistent about babayega issue and also about the producer's connection with Russia which I hadn't read anywhere else. Don't know may be I'm being too optimistic.

Anyways I liked his trip to Russia how much the fans love him and the way he handled it was great.
Natalya - I think I saw one of your clips on insta, you were in the middle of a crowd super exited :) it must be a beautiful experience to be so close to your idol.

GuestInterview with Keanu's bodyguard (2017-06-07 05:56:19)
 For anyone who is interested, I google translated the interview with one of Keanu's bodyguard in St. Petersburg. Feel free if you want to post it as its own article. Link to original interview: https://topspb.tv/news/2017/06/5/video-lichnyj-telohranitel-kianu-rivza-rasskazala-podrobnosti-vizita-aktera-v-peterburg/

Keanu Reeves came to St. Petersburg. Dozens of photographers. Thousands of fans. And only two bodyguards. And, one of them is a woman. But the security of the visit was 100% guaranteed.

"How to touch the star, we find out from the regional director of the national bodyguards association Victoria Korchagina. Victoria, you participated in the protection of the Hollywood star Keanu Reeves, is it really so?
VICTORIA KORCHAGINA, Regional Director of the National Bodyguard Association:
"Have you been alone?"
VICTORIA KORCHAGINA, Regional Director of the National Bodyguard Association:
"No. With partner Paul. Well, I'll be honest, if it were not for our valiant police, I thank all the employees. "
"Thousands of people followed him, did he expect such attention in Russia?"
VICTORIA KORCHAGINA, Regional Director of the National Bodyguard Association:
"No, he did not expect such attention to himself, but somewhere in the depths of his soul, such attention was pleasant to him."
"When Keanu Reeves learned that his personal bodyguard would be a woman, what was the reaction?"
VICTORIA KORCHAGINA, Regional Director of the National Bodyguard Association:
"He was surprised. He says, "My God, a woman." It was, you know, how "to what I came." Or something. And then in the process of work he was satisfied. "
"Are there any specifics, maybe he is too capricious?"
VICTORIA KORCHAGINA, Regional Director of the National Bodyguard Association:
"He is unpretentious in nutrition. He drinks a lot of water, sometimes comes out to smoke. Smokes a little. For a day can three or four cigarettes. There should be no direct contact with Keanu with the public, so we had to stand always on the camera line. People hung on poles, trees, balconies. From a distance, very decent cameras with good lenses were visible. Very unpleasant moments were when they tried to break us in a cortege. Decent cars "Porsche Cayenne", "Mercedes". We still undergo training of a certain kind. "
"For you it was new in the job - to protect one when it is surrounded by so many fans?"
VICTORIA KORCHAGINA, Regional Director of the National Bodyguard Association:
"There was something similar, when in 2004 we secured the safety of Paul McCartney's concert at the Palace Square. There were ninety thousand, but there were not many security guards. Departure was organized by bus on a large tourist, through the Hermitage's black fare. There they even joked that these gates had not been opened since the tsarist times. All this crowd from the embankments, bridges and squares broke down, and we prayed that the driver did not stop, because they would turn us over simply. "
"On the Internet there are rumors that Keanu Reeves drove in the St. Petersburg metro. How much does this correspond to reality? "
VICTORIA KORCHAGINA, Regional Director of the National Bodyguard Association:
"At the end of his working day around 1 am, usually when the metro was already closed. At six-thirty, so, just in case, the working day began. "

Guest I love him irrationally (2017-06-09 10:20:53)
  and even I don't believe he could read Hamlet in Russian. At this point the better question is why fabricate all that? And it was someone who knew a lot about him. Could always be the thrill of being published. And paid.
(2017-06-14 21:17:19)
 where are the links that say it's fake? why haven't they been posted here?
(2017-06-14 21:19:12)
 this, however, is bullshit:

"VICTORIA KORCHAGINA, Regional Director of the National Bodyguard Association:
"He was surprised. He says, "My God, a woman." It was, you know, how "to what I came." Or something. And then in the process of work he was satisfied. "

Surprised that a woman could be a bodyguard? I don't suppose that Heidi Moneymaker could be a bodyguard, hm?

Guest (2017-06-18 01:32:31)
 Why is this bullshit - the last post. That is exactly the bodyguard said there is a live interview video of her and I wouldn't be surprised if Keanu was a bit surprised. But the woman did a great job actually better than the other bodyguard from the look of all the videas as surrounded by many fans. But don't know how she could've handled if bad situations happened.
GuestYup (2017-06-27 09:45:04)
 I saw it too it was a live interview.
Guest That was my impression too (2017-06-27 09:48:06)
  He may have momentarily been taken by surprise as the bodyguards are always men.
er, Ani ? (2018-05-28 18:11:20)
 I think we need a mosquito net here too ;)

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