Keanu Reeves – “I Love What I Do”
by Jacqueline Maddison
Brand-new chat with Hollywood star and comeback king Keanu Reeves…
Party on, dudes! Keanu Reeves is back as Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan alongside Alex Winter as Bill S Preston, Esq in new movie ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’. (Image Credit: Izumi Hasegawa)
Here, Keanu talks about returning to his iconic and breakthrough character almost three decades since the last outing of the franchise, ‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey’.
Looking back at his cult comic book movie ‘Constantine’, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
Keanu is currently working on the much anticipated ‘The Matrix 4’. The Canadian actor shot to global superstardom as Thomas A. Anderson aka Neo in the original ‘The Matrix’ film in 1999.
More recently, he has proved he is a bankable star playing John Wick in the ‘John Wick’ movie franchise.
Beverly Hills Magazine: So, Keanu, It’s been almost 30 years-How did it feel to be back in Ted’s shoes and to work with Alex [who plays Bill] again?
Keanu Reeves: There’s nothing like…I mean I can’t feel or laugh or do anything like the way that working on ‘Bill & Ted’ does and working with Alex. That doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world for me.
So to partner up and work on the craft side of it and then to get to play these characters that Chris [Matheson] and Ed [Solomon] have creaTed kind of, be their children [laughs]. But there’s no other place that I can laugh like this and again, to the craft and to play these characters.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Which was your favorite scene to shoot in the new film?
Keanu Reeves: There are a few scenes that stand out, a lot of scenes actually, but like Al gives such a wonderful performance – it’s so funny.
And then not only getting to play Bill and Ted but older versions of Bill and Ted as they are getting more and more upset with us [laughs].
Yeah, getting to play off of Alex and the situation and the words – that doesn’t exist anywhere else for me. That kind of laughter, that kind of connection like that. It’s fun.
Beverly Hills Magazine: And how nice not to shoot anybody in a film?
Keanu Reeves: [laughs humorously] What are you talking about? It’s fun to do that.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Why don’t you tell us about your original audition for Ted?
Keanu Reeves: We went through a very vigorous audition process. I recall in the end, there were about ten artists and we would all kind of revolve door and sometimes play Bill, sometimes play Ted and interact with each other.
Beverly Hills Magazine When did you realize that Bill & Ted was not only a box office hit but had become a cultural phenomenon?
Keanu Reeves: I think as soon as people started yelling in the street. I know when I would be on the street sometimes, people would just be, ‘Be excellent!’ and ‘Party on!’ .So, I was like,‘Oh cool, alright.’
Beverly Hills Magazine: Meanwhile, it’s the 15th anniversary since the release of Constantine. What first attracted you to this project?
Keanu Reeves: I wasn’t familiar with the character. I hadn’t read Hellblazer or seen any of the Alan Moore stuff and Swamp Thing. So, I didn’t know the character, and it was brought to me by my manager at the time.
I think when it was bought to me, Akiva [Goldsman – producer] and Francis [Lawrence – director] were already kind of on board with the project, I think. So, I didn’t know the character. It was brought to me, really loved the script, and then I did some research on the character, and I was not hesitant. I’m not English, I’m not blond, and the character is.
So, I had to reconcile that, and part of that was what was at the base of the character? What could I bring to the character? why even do it?
And it’s such a beautiful character, this kind of humanitarian cynic, kind of tired, world-weary, tired of all of the rules and morals and ethics and angels and demons but still a part of it. And I loved his sense of humor. So I was really excited.
I had seen a few of Francis’ videos. I think the Lady Gaga video was probably the most recent up to it. And when I went to the meet Francis, he had all the boards up, a vision was there of the film, and so I was excited to have the opportunity to work with Francis.
And then got to meet with Akiva and come up to speed with the team. I mean, I love the film. I love the character. So it was cool to be able to play that role and jump into it.
Beverly Hills Magazine: The city of Los Angeles plays an important role in Constantine. Can you talk about that?
Keanu Reeves: I love LA, and I love Filmic LA. So, I love being on the street, I like the way the weather changes, I like the early dawn, the deep night, the color of the lights, people, people who are on the street. It’s got a good vibe. It’s Philippe Rousselot, he is the Cinematographer.
Beverly Hills Magazine: You are known as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. You’ve been in some massive films, The Matrix, for example, and are back for more action with that franchise soon.
People who work with you always say, “How gracious you are on set with everyone, with the crew, etc. What keeps you so grounded?”
Keanu Reeves: That’s kind of you to say, but I don’t know, I love what I do, and I like going to work. I like being creative, and we’re all in it together. So, just go play, and have some fun!
Beverly Hills Magazine Was that the experience you had making Constantine?
Keanu Reeves: It was one of those experiences on a film that you kind of get a relationship where you get a relationship with not only the production design, the cinematography, the character, and stuff but the world that you’re moving in.
And the relationship between the operator and the 1st AC, especially when you’re doing a role like Constantine, you really work hand-in-hand in the ballet of the vision of the director and trying to make the shapes and hit the marks and let people know ahead of time where you’re going.
And Mark Lebon is just amazing, and our 1st Josh McLaughlin was awesome. A great LA crew. Best in the world.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Throughout the entire film you are either being rained on or smoking a cigarette – which was more of a pain in the as-s cigarettes or the rain?
Keanu Reeves: What do you mean pain in the as-s? That was fun. [laughs].
Beverly Hills Magazine: Tell us how is it working with Francis Lawrence
Keanu Reeves: I really enjoyed working with Francis and Akiva, and just having Francis’ vision, having Akiva’s story sense and humor and experience. And then the crew that was assembled and then the cast and playing that role.
Beverly Hills Magazine: It’s a great cast – Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton…
Keanu Reeves: I get to have these great moments with all of the characters in the film. So throwing down with Peter Stormare as I’m bleeding out and he’s leaning into me, and he’s lighting my cigarette and that confrontation. Or throwing down with Tilda Swinton and she’s choking me with her foot on my throat.
Working with Shia LaBeouf, his death scene. Working with Djimon Honsou. I love that moment when he starts to pray, and Constantine is just like ‘Urgh.’ But then the scene with Djimon and I when he’s doing the water, and I’m taking my shoes off.
Max Baker going at me… there’s just so many. The dialogue is so juicy, and the scenes are so that hard-boiled thing, that mystery, you’re walking in, you don’t know.
There were so many times getting to work with such extraordinary artists, and We were all just having fun. The dialogue and the costumes were great, and the production design was great and the crew, everyone came in and rolled up their sleeves, it was collaborative, everyone contributed. Working nights, working days. And then walking into those buildings and having them – and shooting on film!
Beverly Hills Magazine: Tell us about working with Rachel Weisz?
Keanu Reeves: It was the second time I’d had a chance to work with her. So, we had a shorthand.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Do you remember filming the hell sequence, specifically with the cat?
Keanu Reeves: Oh! In the room? Yeah. I mean, I remember being in hell. I remember being in the apartment. And I remember the cat. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the cat until I met the cat, and the cat told me what to do [laughs].
Sometimes we didn’t know what we were going to do but, we would just go do it. I also love that the demons had their brains gone so the seed of the soul had been scooped out like an urchin, like eating an urchin. That was interesting too and fun. And the way that their joints moved backward. Yeah then kind of running and running machines, trying to get that stuff and then doing the wire jump, that was fun.
But that sequence, you know, half in, half out has all of the hard-boiled, the humor, the cinema. It has the vision, the writing, the playfulness, even the dread. It has what’s going to happen.
So that sequence, you know if you go into it, go to hell and come back out and the door click and her hair and coming back and then coming back to John and the steam coming off his back and the physical cost, the toll that it took him.
And then the drama, the flip, how that’s like the sister! And the reveal, and then the kind of momentum of the storytelling. Also the performance that Rachel gives and the intimacy of that. You know, you’re getting spectacle, intimacy, it feels real.
Yeah, it was cool.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Keanu, it’s been such a pleasure getting to know more about you. Thank you for spending some time with us, it’s truly been an honor. We wish you many years of silver screen success. God bless you!
(Jenny Davis / The Interview People)