The Toronto Star (Ca), Sep 13, 1998

Slumping around with Keanu Reeves - Toronto-born actor is in love with his craft, not stardom

by Peter Goddard

Keanu Reeves can't talk about acting. He has to act about acting, so the star of Prince Of Philadelphia (9 a.m. today at the Showcase) is up off his couch being Robert De Niro in Raging Bull: "Banging his head . . . and he says, 'Come 'on, kiss me, kiss me, come on, kiss me.' "

"Wow," he says, slumping back down on the couch. "Wow. You see these things and you just hope that you can be that good. When he works, De Niro can be so alone."

And he becomes Brando in Last Tango In Paris and does some Dirk Bogard - all actors he admires. He shakes his head and slumps some more. It's his release, this total collapse - and not just because this 24-year-old ex-Toronto actor who now lives in New York has a cold.

In Prince, he's the eccentric son of archetypal working-class redneck, one great shuffle of a kid with long draping hair. He slumps along, but with definite purpose.

In River's Edge, his work was equally up-from-the-gut physical. His appearance in the recently finished La Liason Dangereuse, with John Malkovich and Glenn Close, may be his first break from the Brat Pack-ish school of method acting for The '80s.

Besides, acting, he figures, is about to change - and change radically. Television will have a lot to do with it, with the impact of all that heightened reality on a generation of actors.

Call it "snuff acting," he says. "Like a snuff movie, where that person is actually being hurt. I think, the way film making and film makers are going, there won't be that (quality) of suspended disbelief."

Acting, in short, is going to try to be even more realistic - more physical, more up-from-the-gut.

"You watch Colors (starring Sean Penn), and the way the cameras are used, and you see the Thin Blue Line (a documentary about a murder being shown at the festival) and you can see that technology is getting so good that it's going to change everything."

At first glance, he's every punk who ever hung around a plaza. There's a stubble of beard on his chin; there's something sleepy, punky-dazed, about his face; but his instincts are sharp and bright.

Before leaving Toronto at 18, he played ball in Jesse Ketchum park and did local acting workshops - a normal upbringing. He's tightlipped about his family, but those close to him say he and his father had a falling out.

So he wraps himself in work, the outsider to even his own generation of actors. "Something serious is going to happen to acting, but it isn't going to be me."

Why not him?

"I was in this New York place (he moved to Manhattan from Los Angeles a few weeks ago) and saw this article about how James Dean and Elvis and how they affected fashion.

"Well, somehow, I don't think I'm going to do that. I don't think I'm going to have that big an imprint on the world."

Don't bet on it.

(This interview with Keanu Reeves was originally printed in the Toronto Star on September 13, 1988)


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