'Toy Story 4': How Keanu Reeves convinced filmmakers to give Duke Caboom more depth
by Carly Mallenbaum
There are actors, and then there are movie stars.
Keanu Reeves is clearly the latter, as anyone who has witnessed this summer's Keanaissance knows very well. And as the "Toy Story 4" filmmakers will tell you.
"He’s like a legit movie star, but a gentleman, and one of the most thoughtful actors we ever worked with," producer Jonas Rivera said at Tuesday night's "Toy Story 4" premiere, after Reeves walked by to coolly say "What's up, what's up?" to Pixar producers.
Reeves voices new toy Duke Caboom in the "Toy Story" sequel. The character is a Canadian Evel Knievel-style stunt motorcyclist. Funny, right?
But Reeves, the Canadian action hero and all-around good guy, wanted to make sure the character was more than just a joke.
"He would ask these really deep character questions, and you couldn’t ignore them," director Josh Cooley said on the carpet.
For example, Reeves wanted to know: What drives Duke Caboom? What is the toy afraid of?
Well, Cooley didn't know.
"Not at first," he said. "He hadn’t said yes to the role yet, either, so it was kind of a test. It really did force us to dig deeper into this character that we thought was more of a gag."
The probing questions were effective.
"It became a well-rounded, real character because of that," Cooley said.
In "Toy Story 4," Caboom is still a hoot, delivering silly catchphrases like "Yes, I Canada" and diligently posing atop his bike before engaging in conversation, but the toy is also sensitive soul with a compelling past.
"He didn’t just come to do a funny cartoon voice, he dug deep," says Rivera, telling what has now become a familiar story about the movie icon. Earlier this month, "Always Be My Maybe" co-writer and star Randall Park talked about having a similar experience with a collaborative Reeves on his Netflix rom-com.