On Keanu's Minimalist Acting Style
It's about having strong feelings and very minimalistic, direct behavior to express them. It's a real economy of acting, when you move it's like a Japanese samurai, this is my intention and it's what I do, it's straight and not flamboyant, it's clean acting.
– Keanu on his work on The Matrix, "keanu reeves"
For the record, I think he often delivers carefully minimalist performances that are actually grounded in an intelligent acting process. I predict he'll get his due as an actor in late career, much like Clint Eastwood has. But that's just me.
– Matthew Hays, "Peeved Reeves" – The Montreal Mirror (Ca)
Colleen Murphy wrote a workshop play that Reeves and other students performed at Leah Posluns. And she remembers that, when he was focused, he rivetted people's attention. But Murphy admits that she also found Reeves "inarticulate," with a voice just slightly "disconnected" from his body. "I don't know if we're talking a great actor here," she says, "but we're talking a great personality who's very open with his feelings, who has a face audiences can project a lot of stuff into. There's a mystery -- when he doesn't speak too much."
– Lyle Slack, "Keanu's Excellent Adventure"
His natural melancholy, inscrutable nature and minimalist acting style (which his detractors mistakenly construe as a lack of expressiveness) come to the fore in sci-fi and fantasy films.
– Didier Péron, "Irresistible"
Reeves seeming drugged or slow, but Van Sant makes use of it to terrifying effect in Idaho. Scott is an empty canvas, a surface on which he imposes different identities at whim. Scott can be a debauched street hustler or the privileged son of the mayor and a pillar of society, but it isn't because of a multiplicity of self and contradictory depth within him. Scott is all surface, glib posture, and performance with a horrible, empty, even inhuman void just beneath. Scott is whatever he pleases to play today, and no more. In contrast with Mike's vulnerability and desperation of emotion, Scott is incapable of real connection, nor does he seek it. Scott is perpetual performance embodied.
– Marianna Martin, "Mythic River"
Reeves is often described as vacuous – possibly due to his habit of lapsing into Bill and Ted speak during interviews – which is only half true. His singular talent, it is said, is his ability to empty himself (a process which may take him less time than most actors) and allow himself to be filled with the characteristics of a big screen character.
– Max Bell, "The Keanu enigma"