Keanu Reeves on Siberia
by Max Evry
An American diamond merchant, Lucas (Keanu Reeves), travels to Russia to seel rare blue diamonds of questionable origin. As the deal begins to collapse, he falls into an obsessive relationship with a Russian cafe owner, Katya (Ana Ularu) in a small Siberian town. As their passion builds, so does the treacherous world of the diamond trade from which he is unable to extricate himself. The merchant and his lover are caught in a lethal crossfire between the buyer and federal intelligence service.
The movie also stars Pasha Lychnikoff (Shameless) and Molly Ringwald (Riverdale), and was directed by Matthew Ross from a script by Academy Award nominee Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan) and is based on a treatment by Stephen Hamel.
ComingSoon.net: So when I was describing Siberia for friends I told them it’s essentially “John Wick” with much less action and much more romance. Is that a fair assessment?
Keanu Reeves: I guess if you look at it from a John Wick perspective. I guess maybe instead of the world of The Continental and The High Table you have Russian families and Russian oligarchs and a married man from the States. You’re entering different worlds. And instead of an assassin I’m playing a diamond dealer, and there’s a love story in there.
CS: Your character Lucas Hill is very contained, and always seems to have a poker face on. What are some specific things you did to tip us off to his inner life while physically doing very little?
Reeves: I don’t think I do physically very little. There’s pretty physical, intimate love scenes.
CS: Yes! (laughs) Besides those.
Reeves: Yeah, I mean there’s facial cues and behavioral cues, some of which have a tension in it. I think you get a sense that the character is trying to maintain, and then trying to break through that obviously to his wife and with his relationship with Katya, the woman he falls in love with. The different kinds of ways he behaves, depending on who he’s dealing with, whether it’s an oligarch or Katya and her family. Sometimes you see different behavioral cues and emotions from the character.
CS: You mentioned his wife, it was really cool to see you and Molly Ringwald. It was exciting because you guys were kind of contemporaries and came out of being these teen stars. Was this a long time coming? Was she someone you always wanted to work with?
Reeves: Yeah! Matthew Ross, the director, has a friendship with her, so it was cool that she said yes to us. She’s a lovely person and a great actress. It was nice to get a chance to work with her and to meet her.
CS: You shot this movie in Winnipeg, right?
Reeves: Winnipeg and Saint Petersberg.
CS: Winnipeg is far out from your hometown of Toronto. How different was it from a typical Canadian film shoot in Toronto or Vancouver?
Reeves: Not really. I’ve made films in a few places in the world, and they have much more in common than they have differences. You have process, cameras, costumes, a story to tell, actors, directors, fighting… the process is pretty much the same. It was great to be in Saint Petersberg! I’d never been there before, so it’s a beautiful city, and it was great to work with the Russian film crews. They have a great passion and enthusiasm. It felt very much like… not old school filmmaking, but it didn’t feel as corporate.
CS: I know you get asked about “Bill & Ted 3” a lot so I want to ask you a different question? When are you going to make “Bill & Ted 4?”
Reeves: Depends if we ever make Bill & Ted 3!
CS: No just kidding. I am really excited, dare I say thrilled that you guys are finally getting that off the ground. Chris and Ed are so good at going to really weird places with their scripts. When there’s such a push to make franchises more homogenous and safe, how are you guys circumventing the bean counters to preserve the inherent weirdness of Bill & Ted?
Reeves: How are we doing that? Just staying true to the vision and the characters. Being authentic to their story… WITH NO COMPROMISE! (laughs)
CS: And that’s gonna shoot early next year?
Reeves: I have no idea. We haven’t made it yet. Everything is not quite settled yet, but hopefully soon.
CS: That’s interesting. A press release made it sound like more of a done deal but I guess things are still in flux with contracts or whatever?
Reeves: Other people have have different perspectives.
CS: The last time I talked to you “Passengers” was still a thing you were trying to do, and I was such a huge fan of that script. I know that was a very Sisyphean thing for you for a long time and it must have been disappointing not to be involved. Did you end up seeing the final product?
Reeves: I did, yeah! I was really involved with that story. I was just really happy that the story got to be told by such wonderful performers. I was just happy it got made.
CS: It was pretty close to the script that Jon Spaihts wrote. There were a few alterations. The ending was a bit different than the draft I read.
Reeves: For sure. That would be an example, the Aurora character was definitely a little more interesting. Not because of Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, but, I think, how that character was treated. I thought they were wonderful. Again, I was really happy that it got made.