Keanu Reeves, co-star of the "Constantine" Movie!
Keanu is one of the most prominent superstars in the modern movie/film industry. Born as Keanu Charles Reeves in Beirut, Lebanon, in September of 1964 and named for the Hawaiian word that means "cool breeze over the mountains," the future actor was a world traveler by the age of two, thanks to his father's career as a geologist. His mother, Patricia Taylor, worked as a showgirl and later a costume designer of film and stage, and after his parents divorced, Reeves followed his mother and sister to live in New York; the trio would later relocate to Toronto -- where Reeves' interest in ice hockey and acting took a substantial precedence over academics. His formidable presence in front of the goal eventually earned Reeves the nickname "The Wall," and it wasn't long before all interest in school waned and the talented goalie decided to pursue acting.
Later working as a manager in a Toronto pasta shop, Reeves soon began turning up in small roles on various Canadian television programs, making his feature debut in the 1985 Canadian film One Step Away before American audiences got their first good look at him in the 1986 Rob Lowe drama Youngblood. Subsequently going back to television and garnering favorable notice for his role in 1986's Young Again, it was the release of Tim Hunter's The River's Edge later that year that would provide Reeves with his breakthrough role. A harrowing tale of teen apathy in small town America, The River's Edge provided Reeves with a perfect opportunity to display his dramatic range, and the film would eventually become a minor classic in teen angst cinema.
Appearing in a series of sometimes quirky but ultimately forgettable efforts in the following few years, 1988 found Reeves drawing favorable nods for his role in director Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons. It was the following year's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, however, that would transform the actor into something of an '80s icon. Reeves' performance of a moronic, air guitar wielding wannabe rocker traveling through time in order to complete his history report and graduate from high school proved so endearingly silly that it spawned both a sequel (1991's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey) and a Saturday morning cartoon. In an odd twist of fate, Reeves and co-star Alex Winter had initially auditioned for the opposite roles from those in which they were ultimately cast. Though he would later offer variations of the character type in such efforts as Parenthood (1989) and I Love You to Death (1990), it wasn't long before Reeves was looking to break away from the trend and take his career to the next level.
After drawing favorable reviews for his turn as a rich kid turned street hustler opposite River Phoenix in Gus Van Sant's 1991 drama My Own Private Idaho, Reeves battled the undead in Francis Ford Coppola's lavish production of Dracula (1992). Showing his loyalty toward fellow Bill and Ted cohort Winter with a hilarious extended cameo in Freaked the following year, Reeves once again teamed with Van Sant for the critically eviscerated Even Cowgirls Get the Blues before surprising audiences with an unexpectedly complex performance as Siddhartha in Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha (1993).
Just as audiences were beginning to ask themselves if they may have underestimated Reeves talent as an actor, the mid-'90s found his career taking an unexpected turn toward action films with the release of Jan de Bont's 1994 mega-hit Speed (Reeves would ultimately decline to appear in the film's disastrous sequel). Balancing out such big-budgeted adrenaline rushes as Johnny Mnemonic (1995) and Chain Reaction (1996) with romantic efforts as A Walk in the Clouds (1995) and Feeling Minnesota (1996), Reeves spooked audiences as a moral attorney suffering from a major case of soul corrosion in the 1997 horror thriller The Devil's Advocate. The late '90s also found Reeves suffering a devastating personal loss when his expected baby girl with longtime girlfriend Jennifer Syme was stillborn, marking the beginning of the end for the couple's relationship. Tragedy stacked upon tragedy when Syme died two short years later in a tragic freeway accident. His career in fluctuation due to the lukewarm response to the majority of his mid-'90s efforts, it was the following year that would find Reeves entering into one of the most successful stages of his career thus far.
As Neo, the computer hacker who discovers that he may be humankind's last hope in the forthcoming war against an oppressive mainframe of computers, Reeves' popularity once again reached feverish heights thanks to The Wachowski Brothers' wildly imaginative and strikingly visual sci-fi breakthrough, The Matrix. Followed by such moderately successful films as The Replacements (for which he deferred his salary so that Gene Hackman could also appear) and The Watcher (both 2000), Reeves took an unexpectedly convincing turn as an abusive husband in Sam Raimi's The Gift before returning to familiar territory with Sweet November and Hardball (both 2001). With the cultural phenomenon of The Matrix only growing as a comprehensive DVD release offered obsessive fans a closer look into the mythology of the film, it wasn't long before The Wachowski Brothers announced that the film had originally been conceived as the beginning of a trilogy and that two sequels were in the works. Filmed back to back, and with both scheduled to hit screens in 2003, excitement over The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions began to reach feverish heights in the months before release, virtually ensuring that the films would become two of the year's biggest box-office draws.
Famously playing bass for the band Dogstar in his cinematic down time, Reeves' other personal interests include motorcycles, horseback riding, and surfing. When he's not filming, Reeves still maintains residence in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Keanu Reeves film: Romantic drama shoots scenes at construction site
It's been hard for Hector Saldana Jr. to focus on work the past couple days. The Auroran has been taking frequent breaks from his plumbing job at developing apartments on Aurora's far East Side, trying to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood scene outside. Somewhere, behind that big camera, the lights and all the equipment at the apartment building across the street was movie star Keanu Reeves.
Reeves and a crew of about 150 are in town through today, filming scenes for Il Mare ("The Ocean" in Italian), a romantic drama expected to be released in early 2006. The film teams Reeves again with his Speed co-star Sandra Bullock, but in a much-different plot. Reeves plays an architect who falls in love with Bullock after corresponding with her through letters. The catch: Reeves lives in 2002 and Bullock lives in 2004.
The movie is set in Chicago, with scenes also shot in Aurora, Willow Springs and Riverside, said Ernie Malik, the film's publicist.
Of all the suburban construction sites the producers scouted, the Pulte Homes location near Eola Road and New York Street had the best mix of apartment buildings in various stages of construction, Malik said. "These scenes are to show (Reeves' character) in his work environment," he said.
In one scene filmed Tuesday afternoon, Reeves, in a hard hat and construction gear, sat with his legs dangling over an apartment balcony, writing on a notepad.
The crew began filming in Aurora Monday, and this was the first week of filming. John Corbett — Aidan Shaw in Sex and the City — plays Bullock's former fiance, and Lynn Collins, known for her role in Merchant of Venice, plays a possible love interest for Reeves.
Saldana said he and the other construction workers were disappointed to hear Bullock wouldn't be coming to Aurora, but they were still star-struck by Reeves. Monday, Saldana stayed on the site after work and tried to sneak a photo of Reeves as the actor got into his car, but he was shooed away and didn't get the picture.
Tuesday afternoon, however, Reeves unexpectedly walked right past Saldana. They shook hands, and Reeves, remembering Saldana had tried to get his picture the day before, offered to have someone take a photo of them together. Saldana said he's going to buy Il Mare as soon as it comes out, even though it's supposed to be a "chick flick."
"It was exciting just being there, hearing the director say 'Action, rolling,' " Saldana said. "Just being in the Hollywood atmosphere."
Keanu Reeves will be Sinbad the Sailor in upcoming movie
"Matrix" movie star Keanu Reeves has signed on to be Sinbad the Sailor, the legendary character from 'The Arabian Nights' in an upcoming movie set in eighth-century China, the trade magazine Variety reported Wednesday.
In "The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad," a Columbia Pictures film to be directed by Rob Cohen, Reeves and his shipmates set off to find Aladdin's lamp.
Along the way the crew meets a beautiful empress "and battle fantastical creatures as well as a rebellious Chinese general who threatens the kingdom with his supernatural powers," wrote Variety.
Reeves currently stars in the supernatural thriller "Constantine," an adaptation of the DC-Vertigo comic book.
Hollywood has taken Sinbad to the big screen before.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. starred in "Sinbad the Sailor" (1947), while Columbia Pictures produced "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad" (1958), "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" (1974) and "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger" (1977).
The most recent was "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas" (2003), an animated DreamWorks film with the voices of Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Reeves finds change in extroverted 'Constantine'
Keanu Reeves has played his share of messianic characters, from The One in "The Matrix" to the Buddha in "Little Buddha."
In his newest film, "Constantine," Reeves' character is a man who's been to hell and back. Born with the gift (or curse) of being able to recognize the half-breed angels and demons that walk the earth disguised as humans, John Constantine is driven to take his own life to escape his tormenting visions. When he fails, he is returned to the land of the living against his will.
Marked as an attempted suicide -- a sin punishable by eternal damnation -- he is bound temporarily to earth, hoping in vain to earn his way to salvation by sending the devil's foot soldiers back to hell. As part of his penance, he regularly performs exorcisms using sacred relics as weapons. But he doesn't have much time.
It's serious stuff. Based on a popular comic book series called Hellblazer, the R-rated action thriller was retitled to avoid confusion with the 1987 horror flick "Hellraiser."
Reeves was unfamiliar with the comic book when he read the script while shooting "The Matrix" films in Australia. He thought the role would be a nice departure from his brooding "Matrix" character, Neo.
"I said yes to it because I didn't feel like I was repeating myself," says Reeves. "Constantine is a very extroverted role."
While the filmmakers chose to change some aspects of "Constantine," Reeves says the essence of the comic book character remains. "It's that kind of hard-edged, hard-boiled, world-weary, cynical, fatalistic, nihilistic, self-interested guy with a heart," he explains, laughing. "I hope fans of the comic book don't feel that we sabotaged something that is so well-loved."
Rachel Weisz co-stars as a detective who refuses to believe that her schizophrenic twin sister committed suicide. With Constantine's help, she taps into her own repressed psychic powers to see if she can find her sister in hell.
Meanwhile, Constantine must confront Balthazar (Bush lead singer-turned-actor Gavin Rossdale), one of Satan's earthbound emissaries. He's also trying to convince the angel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) to allow him into heaven.
Reeves views the film's spiritual themes as "sort of secular religiosity."
"I think that these motifs of seekers and messiahs, antiheroes and heroes, all of these aspects are journeys that we deal with in our day-to-day lives," he says. "They offer up stuff about where you come from, what you're fighting for, what you're striving for, what's against you, and coming into -- and I don't mean this in a facile way -- a kind of light."
The famously private actor politely declines to discuss his own religious beliefs. Yet the enigmatic Reeves also displays a wicked sense of humor during this interview.
When a reporter feigns shock that Reeves' rock band Dogstar is no more, the actor sarcastically responds, "Right. Thanks!"
Reeves says he's given up playing music, just as he's stopped playing ice hockey in his free time. Could it be that Reeves, now 40, is interested in more grown-up pursuits? Who knows? But he still possesses a passion for acting.
"It's like painting, I would imagine," he says. "A good day on the set creating a work, a piece, a collaboration, an expression, is a hoot."
Reeves would be up for a "Constantine" sequel as long as he could work with the same cast and crew. "I loved playing the guy -- why stop there?" he queries playfully.
Naturally, it will be up to movie audiences and the studio to determine whether that will happen. Meanwhile, Reeves is slated to collaborate with his "Speed" co-star, Sandra Bullock, in a remake of the 1962 Italian drama "Mare, Il."
"It's a straight-out romance," he says, grinning.
Keanu Reeves Takes A Reality Check As He Turns 40
REEVES ANALYSES HIS LIFE AT 40
KEANU REEVES found turning 40 last year (04) a momentous birthday after it forced him to re-evaluate his existence.
THE MATRIX hunk approached his fourth decade in a contemplative mood and believes the landmark age brought on an existential crisis as he began questioning the importance of life.
Reeves says, "No, it wasn't just another birthday for me.
"It carried quite a wallop. I have all the classic symptoms. Reflection. Where am I now? Where have I come from? What's important?
"Dealing with the moment of a different kind of feeling for mortality. Shifting of the body. "Contextualising or reevaluating behaviours and values. All those kinds of things."
Keanu Reeves 'set to marry Autumn Macintosh'
Keanu Reeves is reportedly set to marry old flame Autumn Macintosh.
Friends claim the Hollywood actor proposed after rekindling his romance with Autumn, who he first dated in the early ‘90s, earlier this year.
A source is quoted by Britain’s Daily Star newspaper: “Keanu and Autumn have know each other for years.
In May, they got it together again and over the last few months Keanu started thinking about settling down. Commitment is a huge deal to Keanu.”
In January, Keanu was rumoured to be back in the arms of another old flame, former wild child Amanda De Cadanet, who he was once engaged to.
Despite the meteoric success of his Hollywood career, both Keanu’s family life and love life have been dogged by disaster.
The troubled star’s ex-convict father, Sam, abandoned both Keanu and his mother when he was just a few years old.
Later, the Reeves family was again rocked when an argument between Keanu’s sister, Kim - who has been battling leukaemia - and her mother over an English woman she had taken on as an adoptive daughter caused a bitter rift.
Since then, Keanu has battled deep depression after the heartache of his daughter being still-born, as well as her mother, Jennifer Syme, being killed in a tragic road accident a year later.
Keanu the demon slayer: Reeves enjoys role as comic-book hero Constantine
In ``Constantine,'' opening Friday, Keanu Reeves is back saving the world in a big-budget thriller. But the star says his new film is not ``Matrix 4.''
``I said `yes' to it while I was making `The Matrix' because I didn't (think) that I was repeating myself in it,'' Reeves said of this big-screen adaptation of the Vertigo/DC Comics' ``Hellblazer,'' a series whose hero John Constantine is a chain-smoking, tough-talking demon-fighter.
Unlike Neo in the ``Matrix'' series, Constantine is an extrovert who looks for trouble.
``In terms of making choices, I just try to have a variety of genre and character,'' Reeves said.
In a career that began in his teens, the 40-year-old, Beirut, Lebanon-born, Toronto-raised actor has played roles ranging from stupidly silly (``Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure'') to heroic (``Speed'') to romantic ``A Walk in the Clouds'').
But Constantine, a variation of the detectives of '40s fiction, is a man with the ability to see demons.
``I feel like you're watching a character who's dealing with something that happened to him that he didn't understand,'' Reeves said. ``He was given this curse - or this gift - to be able to see the world beyond the world, and then despair as a young man overwhelmed him. So he took his own life and he goes to hell. He comes back from hell and he has no idea why.''
As the movie begins, Constantine dispatches the damned back to hell in the hopes of attaining a place in heaven. Constantine knows he's on the clock - he's dying of lung cancer as a result of a lifelong smoking habit.
Originally, Constantine was modeled on Sting, a blond, cockney-accented tough guy. By the time Reeves was offered the role, it was Americanized.
``What was important was really the essence of Constantine, and we really worked hard to keep that aspect of it,'' Reeves said. ``Because it's really what it is all about: that kind of hard-edged, hard-boiled, world-weary, cynical, fatalistic, nihilistic, self-interested with a heart guy. I hope that fans of the comic don't feel that we sabotaged something that is so well-loved.''
Although the film's presentations of exorcisms, demonology and Earth as a perpetual battleground between the forces of Satan and God are rooted in Catholicism, Reeves sees ``Constantine'' primarily as classic storytelling.
``Even though there are fantastical characters and situations, this kind of journey of this particular hero is still a man trying to figure it out.''
As for the veteran star, it seems he mostly has figured it out.
``In my art? I'm making up for what I do in life; that's my penance,'' he said. ``No one cares about heaven, they just want the dirt because we can relate to that. I think that for me personally, I like that aspect in the work that I do because it's what I enjoy in art. I go watch a film and spend two hours there, I go out to be entertained.
``This isn't a thing where I mind showing a negative side as well, like working in a film (such as) `The Gift' (in which he played an abusive husband). That guy's not a redeemer. But it was part of a story that was about grief and dealing with grief. I don't want to go to a movie and not have something that I can come away with that I can either think about or it adds to something. Because if I don't, then it's like, why do I want to spend two hours of my time with (expletive)''
Acting continues to thrill him.
``I've heard Anthony Hopkins say you learn acting by doing it. It's like painting, I would imagine, the craft of it, the skill of it, the way that you work the paint,'' he said. ``For me, I still love acting. A good day on the set creating a work, a piece, a collaboration, an expression, is a hoot. I love it.''
Keanu Reeves' Personality: An ordinary Joe
Despite being an object of desire of women the world over, Keanu Reeves hardly looks like a burnished Hollywood sex symbol. FARIDUL ANWAR FARINORDIN meets the man who discards his long black coat from the Matrix trilogy to play a wacko messiah.
FOR someone who earned US$15 million (RM57 million) in his last movie, The Matrix Revolutions, (plus 15 per cent of the film’s total gross), Lebanon-born Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves doesn’t come across as a multi-millionaire movie star.
Sure, the suit he was wearing probably costs my month’s salary, but one look at him and you could tell that it was not really his style — there was a faded T-shirt underneath the jacket and the shoes were so salah (wrong). For all I know, the suit was probably bought by his minders for this promotional event.
Reeves was in Hong Kong for the world premiere of his latest movie Constantine, a supernatural/action/sci-fi/thriller which opens in Malaysia tomorrow. Directed by Francis Lawrence, who was also present during the three-day promo tour, the story was adapted from a popular DC Comic series, Hellblazer. The movie also stars Rachel Weisz, Tilda Swinton and Gavin Rossdale.
From the looks of it, he probably hadn’t shaved. But he looked good anyway. The stubble actually went well with his tousled hair look courtesy of the make-up artiste whom I saw scurrying into his room just minutes before. Groovy, dude.
Reeves doesn’t have the dazzling white smile typical of Hollywood celebrities and I don’t think he gives a hoot. In the not-so-many occasions that he smiled during this round-table interview, it was clear that coffee/tobacco stain was all part of the “unpolished” look of a surfer-dude rock star.
Although he will turn 41 in September, this once-named 50 Most Beautiful People in the World (1995’s People magazine) is not going to play the role of a father anytime soon. In fact, he still reminded me of Ted Logan in the 1989 screwball comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures — minus the bowl-cut hairdo.
On his left wrist there was no fancy watch — just a simple plastic-strapped one like the ones I used to wear during primary school. A golden string raised our interest. “Oh, a friend of mine ... she puts it on ... it’s just for fun,” he said. Clearly, he didn’t want to elaborate.
In Constantine, he stars as John Constantine, the chain-smoking dude who sees not only dead people but angels and demons as well. Now damned to hell after surviving an attempted suicide as a child, he hopes to earn his way to salvation by saving mankind from evil on Earth.
He chants in Latin to ward off demons in various guises, performs exorcisms on unsuspected victims and arms himself with holy gadgets that include “dragon’s breath”, among others. A selfish messiah, sceptical renegade and a reluctant anti-hero, he later finds himself in on a journey of self-redemption.
The character in the comic books is a blonde-haired Brit from Liverpool, but Reeves said what’s important is for the film adaptation to “capture the essence of the character”.
“Whatever influence I have from the script is a true representation of Constantine. I tried to keep the Constantinian attitude and hopefully, I was successful, although I don't have the same hair colour or the same costume (as in the comic book),” he said, big, brown eyes looking back at you intently.
Word has it that he was still finishing The Matrix Revolutions, the last installation of the smashing trilogy in Australia, when he took this project from giant studio Warner Brothers.
“I actually had over a year between The Matrix Revolutions and Constantine. I had plenty of time to research the role. I was so eager to do this character — to me, it is one of the best I have played so far.”
Describing his character, Reeves said: “He’s complicated. As a hero, he’s flawed. He’s damned to hell, trapped, dying, cursed and doesn’t like the way the world works. He doesn’t always do the right thing the right way, but that’s okay. Because of this, we can follow his journey and relate to him.”
Does he see himself in the character?
“Um, no, except that I play the role so there’s a part of me there. The journey I took was to understand him through his gestures, behaviour, and the way he moves. To be him, I lowered my voice register a little bit and changed my speech patterns and rhythms.” Breathy, brooding and moody.
He loves the character so much that he wouldn’t think twice about reprising the role in the future, should there be a sequel — or a prequel. “Yeah, I’d do it. I love the character. But I would only do it if Francis (Lawrence) agreed to do it.”
Reeves was also one of the people who decided to hire Lawrence as the movie director. “The producers, Warner Brothers, had given me that ability to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the directors (who were shortlisted for the project).”
He liked Lawrence’s initial ideas for the movie.
“He's a great collaborator with a great vision. When I saw his conceptual ideas for the movie, and later spoke to him about the filming process, I just knew that he was the man. He wanted to bring out the human aspect. His goal was to make a film that people could relate to, and not another cartoon-ish comic book adaptation.”
Constantine marks Lawrence’s directorial debut for a motion picture. Known as a music video director, his past works include Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me A River, Shakira’s Suerte and Will Smith’s Black Suits Coming.
“I had seen his work before but I didn’t know that they were his,” Reeves said, adding that he later “got hold of his videos and familiarised myself with his style. To me, he has a narrative impulse, a sense of telling stories. So when I saw those, I was very interested in meeting him.”
Reeves is no stranger to the tales of the paranormal, of demons and devils, ghouls and ghosts. In 1992, he starred in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and followed with The Devil’s Advocate five years later.
And yes, he believes in the mystery of paranormal. He recalled a hair-raising experience in an apartment in Toronto which he was renting while making a movie.
“I tried to go to sleep in the bedroom but I just couldn’t. So I dragged the mattress out and slept outside. I felt it — these bad vibes — I didn’t know what was going on in there and I didn't want to share it ... so I split. I don’t know if I’m crazy or not, but I felt it.”
It was reported that Reeves almost drowned his co-star Weisz (playing police detective Angela Dodson) in a bathtub during one of the nail-biting scenes in Constantine.
“I didn’t make it so easy for her to get out of the water,” Reeves admitted. “She’s a very strong girl so I had to try very hard.”
He later said that there was no real danger as “we had good safety precautions” but “if she said I held her down there for a little longer than she thought necessary, I would say I’m guilty.”
We also asked him about his three-member band Dogstar, of which Reeves is the bassist (the other members are Bret Dormrose on guitar/vocals and Robert Mailhouse on drums).
“There’s no more Dogstar,” he said with a hint of sadness, adding “We couldn’t write together anymore. The story has ended for us. Everyone wanted to play different kinds of music so there’s no unity. We knew we were done.”
Reeves said he joined another band called Becky for about a year, “but not anymore”.
Now, he said, he missed the fraternity. “I miss writing songs and performing at rock shows.”
But he can look forward to more big-screen roles after this.
His upcoming performances include an independent romance-comedy Il Mare (The Lakehouse ), directed by Alejandro Agresti, and a big-screen adaptation of Philip K. Dick's sci-fi novel A Scanner Darkly, directed by Richard Linklater.
“I have had the opportunity to work on two films and do different kinds of roles. You know, I’m just trying to find good roles and good material. I don’t want to do the same thing all the time,” he said, adding that The Lakehouse will be filmed in Chicago.
“The year is starting off good,” he said on the chance to reunite with Sandra Bullock for The Lakehouse and Winona Ryder for A Scanner Darkly. (Bullock starred with him in the 1994 actioner Speed while Ryder joined him in 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula).
Keanu: 'Constantine' not just him saving world in a black coat again
Keanu Reeves just wants to do good. For the 40-year-old actor, who plays a demon-fighting supernatural detective in his latest movie "Constantine," a film must end with a positive transformation or redemption to pique his interest.
And, frankly that is something you might expect from an actor best known as humanity's savior in "The Matrix" series to say.
"I don't want to go to a movie and not have something that I can come away with to think about or that adds up to something," he told reporters recently.
"If it doesn't have that element to it it doesn't really attract me," Reeves added.
Helped by the use of ground-breaking special effects, the futuristic "Matrix" trilogy grossed over $1.6 billion in worldwide ticket sales, making it one of the most successful franchises in cinematic history.
The trilogy, whose last film was released in 2003, sapped Reeves' time and energy and might have convinced audiences that he was only a Messiah-like action hero.
Reeves's character in "Constantine," a 30-cigarette-a-day smoker with a terminal lung disease, tries to win God's favor -- and his way into heaven -- by sending Earth-roaming representatives of the devil back to hell.
He insisted that "Constantine," which opens on Feb. 18, had nothing to the do with "The Matrix." Its superhero fights demons from Hell, instead of machines as in "The Matrix."
It is his first starring role in a big-budget movie since "Matrix." Despite his assurances to the contrary, Reeves could not escape suggestions that black-trench-coat-wearing John Constantine would remind audiences of Neo, the darkly clad superhero in the "Matrix."
BLACK COAT AGAIN
"Hopefully the film is engaging enough that for the whole two hours and six minutes the audience is not going, 'He's wearing a black coat, he's wearing a black coat, he's wearing a black coat,"' Reeves said.
"I said yes to (making "Constantine") while I was making 'The Matrix' because I didn't feel that I was repeating myself. Constantine is a very extroverted role and so much about it was very different to me than the experience I was having on 'The Matrix," he said.
In his post-"Matrix" existence, Reeves said he has made an effort to play a range of roles, including a sweet young doctor in the romantic comedy "Something's Gotta Give" and even something he described as a "Zen orthodontist" in the upcoming independent film "Thumbsucker."
"Sometimes you don't want to play the hero," said Reeves, who rose to superstar status after playing the protagonist cop in 1994's action-thriller "Speed."
In "Constantine" his character meets policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz), who is determined to prove her sister's death was not a suicide so she can give her a Catholic burial.
Constantine's journey takes him through a computer-generated world of demons and angels, but Reeves said the film is more about human struggles than spiritual ones.
"Even though they are such fantastical characters and situations, it's still a man trying to figure it out," Reeves said. "These motifs of messiahs and heroes and anti-heroes, these journeys are things that we deal with in our day to day."
Reeves adamantly declined to discuss his own religious beliefs, saying the topic is "very personal."
Based on the DC/Vertigo comic book "Hellblazer," "Constantine" is the feature-film directorial debut of Francis Lawrence, who previously directed videos for artists like Britney Spears, Will Smith, and Aerosmith.
Fearing the film would end up relying more on spectacle than the script's plot, Reeves said he was skeptical at first of working with a music video director.
"That came out of an uneducated bias," Reeves admitted, saying he would like to make a sequel to "Constantine," "as long as I worked with the same people."
In his next project, Reeves said he will be reunited with "Speed" co-star Sandra Bullock in a remake of the 1962 Italian romance "Il Mare" to be directed by Argentine filmmaker Alejandro Agresti.
Reeves said his nascent music career with a rock band called Becky ended because the demands of his acting career did not allow him the time to tour and pursue a recording contract.
"I don't play anymore," he said.
Keanu Reeves Trained with Exorcist
Hollywood star Keanu Reeves today said he trained with an exorcist for his latest film Constantine, and he was relieved that no supernatural forces plagued the movie set.
“There were no paranormal events that took place on the film that I know of. Thank God!” said Reeves, 40, who plays the title character in Constantine – a man who battles to send demons back to hell.
He described his character as a “world-weary” and “nihilistic guy with a heart of gold.”
Adapted from a DC Comics series, the film will have its world premiere in Hong Kong on Tuesday – 10 days before its opening in the United States.
“I went with an exorcist for a bit. I just want to know really practical things, like how do you hold someone possessed by the devil,’ said Reeves, visiting Hong Kong for the first time.
Reeves said he was excited to be there, but had not had time to see the city.
“I haven’t had a chance to, but looking out of the window, it looks pretty extraordinary out there,” Reeves said.
The star of action thrillers The Matrix and Speed said his latest role also made him less sceptical about the existence of hell.
“Constantine kind of knows it’s fact. So I guess if I had any doubts before, I probably have a little few less doubts now,” he said.
Reeves said he enjoyed playing the saviour-like characters in The Matrix and Constantine.
“They are pretty classic Western hero myths stories. They are fun to play. They offer something for people to think about,” he said.
Asked how he felt about receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Reeves said: “It was a great honour for me. I just hope to be able to continue the journey and continue to make films I am interested in and that people like.”
Keanu Reeves Gets His Star
Keanu Reeves, who took on humanity's machine conquerors in ``The Matrix'' films, has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Reeves, 40, was honored with the star Monday for a career that includes movies such as the action thrillers "Speed" and "Point Break," the romances "Something's Gotta Give" and "A Walk in the Clouds," and the dramas "Little Buddha" and "My Own Private Idaho," and the comedy "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure."
His star was placed along Hollywood Boulevard near the spot where some action scenes in "Speed" were shot.
"When I was 15 years old in Canada, I did a play called `Romeo and Juliet,'" Reeves said. "`I asked my mom if it was OK to be an actor, and she said, 'Whatever you want.' So thanks, Mom.''
The honor came just weeks before the release of his next movie, "Constantine," adapted from the DC Comics series. Reeves stars as the title character, a man with visions of angels and devils on Earth who battles to dispatch demons back to the underworld.
"I've been pleased to work with so many wonderful stars through the years," Reeves said. "This has been an amazing journey. I hope it continues."
Reeves Honored For Stunt Work
Keanu Reeves will be honored for his work in action movies at the upcoming World Stunt Awards.
The awards, which recognize the men and women who put their lives at risk to make fights, explosions and tall-building falls on TV shows and movies look more realistic, will be presented May 16.
Nominees were selected from 19 films, including "Kill Bill — Vol. 1," "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," "Bad Boys II," "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" and "The Last Samurai." Categories include best fight, best fire stunt and best work with a vehicle.
Carmen Electra and Dennis Hopper are set to host the event, which will be taped at Paramount Studios for broadcast on Spike TV .
Paramount and Spike TV, like CBSNews.com, are part of Viacom.
The 39-year-old Reeves will receive an honorary trophy for best action movie star. His films include "The Matrix" trilogy, "Speed" and "Chain Reaction."
"Keanu's work with 'The Matrix' trilogy was some of the best from an actor of his generation," said Gernot Friedhuber, executive producer of the show. "He has consistently shown an ability to learn from the stunt teams on his many films and has expressed a genuine interest in the field of stunt work."
Ronnie Rondell, the renowned stunt artist whose 50-year career includes "Speed," "Lethal Weapon," "Twister" and "Days of Thunder," will receive the World Stunt Association's lifetime achievement award. His first stung work was on the "Soldiers of Fortune," "Combat Sergeant" and "Mike Hammer" television series in the mid-1950s, although he also appeared as Dannie Kettle in the Ma and Pa Kettle series of films a few years earlier.
Both Reeves and Rondell worked on 1994's "Speed."
Keanu Reeves: The One In Movies
As fans of "The Matrix" know, "Everything that has a beginning has an end."
Audiences around the world saw that end in the final chapter of the sci-fi movie franchise in "The Matrix Revolutions."
In the film, Keanu Reeves returns as Neo, who learns from the Oracle that he must fight Agent Smith to end the war between the humans and machines.
Reeves tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith the film is ultimately about love.
Carrie-Anne Moss, who plays Trinity in the film, was quoted as saying, “There is no one who works harder, no one is harder on themselves than Keanu.” Asked why he pushes himself so hard, Reeves says, “This is just really enjoyable and something I love. And it’s the best way to be it, I guess.”
Now that the “Matrix” franchise has made millions of dollars, Reeves says, “It’s fun to be part of a film that people get something from and speak from oftentimes which is what you hope for.”
Personally he notes, “It hasn’t hurt my career, which means getting a chance to do other projects and to work, and I guess it’s the impact of the relationships I have with Carrie-Anne and Laurence Fishburne and I guess the people that I worked with.”
'Revolutions' Slows Matrix Mania
"The Matrix Revolutions" spun a bit slower at the box office as the sci-fi saga's conclusion had an opening domestic weekend of $50.16 million, off 45 percent from the middle chapter's $91.8 million debut six months ago.
Pummeled by critics as harshly as "The Matrix Reloaded" was last May, "Revolutions" has grossed $85.5 million since debuting Wednesday, according to studio estimates Sunday. That was down from the $134.2 million that "Reloaded" - which opened on a Thursday - took in over its first four days.
While domestic audiences dwindled, distributor Warner Bros. focused on the worldwide results for "Matrix Revolutions." Warner opened the movie simultaneously in a record 109 countries, where it racked up a worldwide total of $204.1 million in five days, beating the previous global high of about $200 million for "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
Will Ferrell's Christmas comedy "Elf," about a human raised among the little people at the North Pole, opened strongly in second place with $32.1 million domestically. In narrower release, the romantic comedy "Love Actually" had a healthy debut of $6.6 million, coming in at No. 6.
Added to the $737 million worldwide that "Matrix Reloaded" rang up, the franchise this year already is pushing the $1 billion mark.
"Anytime you have a billion dollars in box office, that's pretty impressive," Joel Silver, producer of "The Matrix" franchise, said Sunday. "I don't know how you point a finger and say there's anything wrong there."
Still, interest clearly has waned in the franchise, which began in 1999 with the Wachowski brothers' "The Matrix," starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss. The movie's sleek black fashion sense and slow-motion visual effects have become one of the most copied looks in movie history.
Many fans of the original were disappointed by "Matrix Reloaded," finding it a lackluster follow-up that emphasized style over substance.
"Reloaded's" opening weekend - the second-best ever after "Spider-Man's" $114.8 million - was greatly due to pent-up demand since the original movie. "Revolutions" lacked that buildup.
"I don't know what film could do $90 million and then repeat that with its next sequel just six months later," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Playing in 3,502 theaters domestically, "Matrix Revolutions" averaged $14,322 a cinema from Friday to Sunday, down from a $25,472 average for "Matrix Reloaded."
"Elf" averaged $9,619 in3,337 theaters, while "Love Actually," whose ensemble cast includes Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson and Laura Linney, averaged $11,458 in 576 cinemas.
Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner, said "Matrix Revolutions" may hold up better in subsequent weeks than did "Matrix Reloaded," whose grosses nosedived in its second weekend. Films tend to have longer shelf life over the holidays than they do in summer-blockbuster season, he said.
"The story really isn't over yet," Fellman said. "We might not have had the same impact in the opening weekend, but you need to play this out for the next few weeks and see if we play a little catch-up."
"Elf" and "Love Actually" were scheduled against "Matrix Revolutions" as alternatives to the sci-fi franchise, whose core audience is younger males. Families and children accounted for most of the crowds at "Elf," while "Love Actually" played mainly to women and older adults.
"We assumed we would be swamped, and essentially, we did get swamped" by "Matrix Revolutions," said Russell Schwartz, head of domestic marketing for "Elf" distributor New Line. "We were not trying to be No. 1."
Keanu Reeves Mirrors Mysterious 'Constantine'
Keanu Reeves comes across as mysterious even to the people who know him well.
Rachel Weisz got to know him when they co-starred in the 1996 film "Chain Reaction," so she expected there would be a bit of a shorthand with him when they filmed "Constantine."
"He's still a very mysterious and enigmatic guy, but he's the same one," Weisz tells Zap2it.com, saying she half expected he'd have a lot of attitude after his "Matrix" hits. "He isn't trying to be mysterious, he just is. It's probably what makes him this gigantic star."
When he walks into a press conference wearing an all black tux and shirt, and sporting a thick beard and moustache like his evil character in "The Gift," the 40-year-old baby-faced Reeves appears as confident as his comic book character who chases demons, John Constantine. Yet, he's not facing demons from hell, he's facing the press.
And when pressed about how he contributed to the script of the dark film noir character, he says he added the lines: "He works his works in mysterious ways. Some people like it, some people don't."
Reeves smiles, "That's mine. That to me was the ground for where Constantine ends up."
He wasn't looking for another superhero film franchise, but the script based on the popular British "Hellblazer" comics came to Reeves while making the "Matrix" sequels. Although the stylish outfits and subtle humor may seem reminiscent of Neo, Reeves sees Constantine as a very different, more adult character.
"Constantine is a very extroverted role on the whole. So much about it is very different from the experience that I was having then [with Neo]," Reeves says.
Nevertheless, Reeves seems drawn to spiritual-themed films like "Little Buddha," "The Devil's Advocate" and the "Matrix" series. Even Bill & Ted visit hell in one of their excellent adventures. But, he really doesn't want to talk about his own spiritual beliefs.
"Please don't really, no, it's something that I take very personal and it's something that is private," Reeves says. But, the film is steeped in Catholicism. "The piece is using icons and a platform from a kind of Catholic heaven and hell, God and the devil. I think that these motifs of seekers and messiahs, anti-heroes and heroes, are journeys that we deal with in our day-to-day ways."
Constantine has supernatural powers that he doesn't understand at first, but he's an anti-hero. "He's very connected to God, he just doesn't understand what's happening. His whole life is intertwined with God."
But, his character is killing himself by smoking a lot, and Reeves admits he does that in real life.
"Too much, too much," Reeves says about his smoking. "It's a character trait the character has, I guess he's dealing with a lot and it's a tool to kind of numb himself."
Reeves says he doesn't want everyone to be aware of him as a star, which is why he stays private. "Hopefully, the film is engaging enough that for the whole two hours and six minutes, they're not going, 'He's wearing a black coat.' I don't mean to be flippant, but hopefully they're not thinking, 'Wasn't he wearing a stethoscope before?' " says Reeves referring to his role as a doctor in the comedy "Something's Gotta Give."
"I've been really fortunate to be able to do different kinds of films on different scales, different genres," he says, pointing out that the indie he's in, "Thumbsucker," played at the Sundance Film Festival recently and is looking for distribution. For now, he's happy playing a character who has enough nerve to call the devil "Lu."
"He's a hard-edged, hardboiled, world-weary, cynical, fatalistic, nihilistic, self-interested, guy with a heart," he laughs. "I hope that fans of the comic don't feel that we sabotaged something that is so well loved."
At first, Reeves turned down director Francis Lawrence, who's biggest claim to fame was Justin Timberlake's music video "Cry Me a River." Reeves admits he was wrong. "That came out of an uneducated bias," Reeves says. Then, he saw some of Lawrence's videos and saw how they tell little stories and when they met they talked two hours. They connected so well that Reeves doesn't want to do the sequel unless it's with the same team.
"My contract didn't have a second film in it, but I certainly fell in love with the guy," Reeves says about doing a sequel. "I had one of the best times that I've ever had working on a film, working on this particular project. So we would talk about what could we do, what happens to Constantine? 'He's a heroin addict in Morocco. He's killing people and he's trying not to kill people. So he's knocking himself out.' And then [producer] Akiva Goldsman was like, 'No. He was to start Revelations.' Ultimately, it is up to the audience."
Obviously aware that "Son of the Mask" is coming out the same date as his film, Reeves says, "The 'Son of Constantine.' I'll play him too."
A big movie buff himself, Reeves says, "I don't want to go to a movie and not have something that I can come away with that I can think about because then it's like why do I want to spend two hours of my time with a--holes. It's just like, 'Come on, man. Thanks. Thanks for the pedophilia.' Do you know what I mean?"
He expects audiences to be entertained, and to be thinking when "Constantine" opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, Feb. 18.
Keanu Reeves: On the Set of 'Constantine'
The line between fantasy and reality blurs a bit when group of journalists are invited to visit the set of Keanu Reeves' latest action film, "Constantine," based on the DC/Vertigo comic book "Hellblazer."
Arriving at Los Angeles Abbey Memorial Park, located in the heart of Compton, one feels transported to the days when Los Angeles liked to splurge on its buildings, making them as beautiful and intricate as old medieval Europe. Looking less like a cemetery than an Islamic church, the tiled building, with Spanish-style iron works inside, carved limestone and colorful stained glass windows has been converted for the film into a cramped Reliquary housing religious relics from all over the world -- including a Nazi swastika, a Buddha, and an Egyptian statue that stands about 20-feet tall.
The set is the lair of Papa Midnite, a crime lord and voodoo king, played by Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou ("In America"), who helps Constantine find an electric chair that doubles as a portal to hell.
But let's backtrack a bit. The character of Constantine was created by Alan Moore in 1985 in an issue of "The Swamp Thing" series before "Hellblazer" became a series in its own right two years later with British writer Jamie Delano at the helm. Since then it has become the longest, continuous title of DC's edgy Vertigo imprint. The comic books tells the story of John Constantine, a cynical, irreverent, British mage, con artist or thief (take your pick) with a close physical resemblance to Sting (who the character was physically modeled on, much like Anne Rice's vampire Lestat). Despite the fact that he's a drunk, a womanizer and a total bastard, Constantine sees himself as humanity's knight in shining amour -- one of the few who stand between humankind and the horrors of the supernatural world.
On this particular day, Hounsou and star Keanu Reeves are shooting the scene where Constantine enters Midnite's home for the first time. Hounsou is Mack Daddy'd out in a red crushed velvet trench coat over a brown corduroy suit complete with a '70s-patterned shirt, snakeskin books and a straw hat dyed red. Reeves, meanwhile, is more pared down, wearing a simple black suit with a white shirt (hmmm ... how Agent Smith), holding Constantine's gold "Holy Shotgun" -- an invention of the screen, not the comic book
The adaptation, directed by first-time feature film director Francis Lawrence, takes away Constantine's British accent and blond hair, but leaves his sharp wit and dark world view, giving the film a film noir feel perhaps tailor made for "Matrix" star Reeves, who might just be turning into our generation's king of gloom. But Lawrence sees Constantine as a different role than Reeves has ever played onscreen, and one a lot closer to his real personality.
"I think Keanu actually has a lot of John Constantine in him," mulls Lawrence. "Keanu is kind of a haunted guy and he's sort of elusive and mysterious. He's had some sort of tragic things happen to him and I think he sort of lives that life a little bit. He's also, I would say, a little self-destructive, which I think Constantine is."
One of the challenges for the film is keeping it PG-13, despite it's dark theme, but producer Lauren Shuler Donner doesn't think that's going to be too much of a problem, although she does admit that his swearing had to be cleaned up a bit.
"We're keeping his attitude, he has a really lousy attitude," she smiles. "So, we're trying to keep as true to the comic as possible, but without the swearing. The violence is there, but it won't be gratuitous. There's a restriction in terms of blood, red blood really, so if there's any blood, it's very dark [and] he still gives the Devil the finger."
Lawrence adds that nothing was cut out of the script yet by the studio in order to get the rating: "I'll use the movie 'Jacob's Ladder' as a reference in that way that it's what you don't see, and things that are hidden in the shadows," he says.
The script teams our dark hero with skeptical policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to solve the mysterious suicide of her twin sister (also played by Weisz). Their investigation takes them through the world of demons and angels that exists just beneath the landscape of contemporary Los Angeles, where they get caught in a catastrophic series of otherworldly events that leads them straight to hell. Running parallel to Constantine's story, is the story of a young boy called the Scavenger, who inadvertently finds a relic, the Spear of Destiny, which possesses him and sends him on a mission that will eventually collide with Constantine's.
"[The Scavenger] sets the premise of what's to come -- up until that point, everything been pretty kind of scoring points, earning his way up to Heaven. Once I find the Spear of Destiny, it's kind of the piece of the puzzle that gets everything going and sends it to another level," actor Jesse Ramirez hints about the nature of his character.
Wearing a haircut that looks like it was done by a very upset, blind hairdresser using extra sharp scissors, Ramirez wears yellow and red contact lenses, fake teeth and a fair about of makeup to play his character -- and that's before he becomes possessed or "demonized."
"It kind of looks like I have hepatitis, maybe," he laughs. "I don't look very demonized; it's very subtle I think."
Reeves Goes Noir for 'Constantine'
Looking at Keanu Reeves, who's wearing a black suit with a white shirt under a black trench, it almost seems as if he's switched sides and is taking a stab at playing "The Matrix's" Agent Smith. That's before Reeves picks up a huge ornate silver pistol (the "Holy Shotgun" as it's dubbed in the film), reveals scorch marks on his white shirt and smiles a wry smile.
All of a sudden, there's no doubt that he's John Constantine, the main character in a new Warner Bros. film of the same last name based off of the comic book series "Hellblazer."
In between shooting scenes on the set of the film, Reeves takes a moment to update us on his newest project, in which he plays a cynical mage who chases down half-breeds, beings that are half human, half demon, before finding out that he is dying from lung cancer and may end up in Hell himself. Reeves admits that he had never read the comic books before the script for the film landed on his lap after Nic Cage dropped out of the project following the departure of director Tarsem Singh ("The Cell"), who left over creative differences. Now helmed by music video director Francis Lawrence, whose credits include the Aerosmith videos "Jaded" and "Don't Want to Miss a Thing," as well as Pink's "Just Like a Pill," Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" and Britney Spear's "I'm a Slave 4 You," the film has a new look and feel.
"We're kind of doing a hard-boiled kind of take on the piece," Reeves tells Zap2it.com. "Kind of a more Gothic aspect."
"Constantine" is expected to fetch a PG-13 rating, therefore a lot of the darkness will likely be insinuated instead of acted out, but Reeves, who has a penchant for quoting lines from the film off camera, says the finished product isn't going to be kid's stuff.
"Well, I mean he's not the nicest guy all the time. I don't know if he's immoral, but it's something that he's negotiating with," Reeves says of his character. "It's serious and hopefully funny at the same time. Again, go back to that hard-boiled motif: Constantine in this film is in a hospital and he finds out he's dying of lung cancer, lights a cigarette up inside the doctor's office and she says, 'That's a good idea.'; He gets into an elevator and this character comes by and the elevator doors closing and the person says, 'Going down?' and he says, 'Not if I can help it.' The next scene is he's in bed with a half-breed demon drinking whiskey with scratches on his back and the scene ends with her tail kind of swishing underneath the sheets laughing, going, 'Lung cancer? Ha. That's funny, John.'"
"So hopefully we have the spirit of the Constantinian factor," Reeves adds. "I'm always asking, 'Is that Constantinian enough?' 'I think I need more Constantine in my Constantine.'"
It was this dark humor that first attracted Reeves and led him to sign on for the part.
"I was looking for a good script and this kind of came my way and I really liked the writing and the character itself and what happened in the piece," he says. "And ultimately there's a line in it where Constantine says, 'God has a plan for all of us. I had to die twice just to figure that out. Some people like it, some people don't.'"
With all the dying, also comes Hell, which as depicted in the film will be a very "orangey" and dusty place.
"One of the things that we came up with, and you'll see this a couple of times, is that when someone dies and they go to Hell, part of Hell is just at the moment when they die and I guess you're seeking release, these scavenger demons come in and they just eat you. Part of these empty skull folks is that they have these really huge maws with teeth and so instead of getting release, you get consumed and then instantly you're back to just about where you were going to die again and then come in and get you again," Reeves explains.
"There's one [scene] where I walk out onto a Hell freeway, coming out of this character's apartment where it transforms from a real world to a Hell apartment and that is just basically, you know, there's rubble and decay. Everything's broken down. Cars on the freeway have almost melted and there's just these demons with these people screaming being consumed and then they're back and then screaming and consumed and screaming and consumed."
Keanu On "Constantine" Sequel Chances
Keanu Reeves wants to come back as John Constantine, as long as the audience likes what he's done so far in the first film opening February 18th.
Reeves told IESB that "My contract didn't have a second film in it. But myself and some of the producers and Francis Lawrence fell in love with the guy. I fell in love with the guy. I had one of the best times I've ever had working on this project. So we would talk about 'What could we do? What happens to Constantine?' You know, we'd think, 'He's a heroin addict in Morocco, and he's got this spell, and he's killing people, but he's trying not to kill people, so he keeps knocking himself out. Then [producer] Akiva Goldsman was like, 'No! He wants to stop Revelations'.
We'd do these kinds of things. Ultimately, it's up to the audience. That would mean that the studio would have the resources to go forward with it. I would love to play Constantine again as long as I worked with the same people, definitely Francis Lawrence and Akiva Goldsman, and everyone involved in this project because I could not imagine doing this without them."
The Director of "Constantine" speaks about new movie and Keanu Reeves
Music video directors are fast becoming the new clique in Hollywood with the likes of Michael Bay and McG now household names. Whilst this is the first film for Francs Lawrence, his work on music videos over the past decade is a highly impressive resume such as Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing", Pras' "Ghetto Superstar", Will Smith's "Black Suits Comin'", Shakira's "Whenever Wherever", Britney Spears "I'm a Slave 4 U", Jennifer Lopez's "Play" & "Waiting for Tonight", Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird", Enrique Iglesias' "Rhythm Divine", and other work with such esteemed artists as Destiny's Child, Jay-Z, En Vogue and many more. Still going over to the film arena is a big step, especially with such a large property, and today he talks about the challenge:
Question: How do you take a really British comic and turn it into an American studio film?
Answer: Ah, interesting question. Well, I think you start to take...what I think first attracted me to this project was just the character himself - not the fact that he was English, not the fact that he had blonde hair and not the fact that he wore an olive-colored trench coat. It was sort of what made him who he was. And I think we've maintained that.
Question: And what is that exactly?
Answer: I think it's the whole idea of an anti-hero - this guy that sort of understands the world to place that normal people don't know exists. I think that he's sort of a supernatural, hard-boiled detective. He reminds me of the Sam Spade's and characters from the classic film noirs.
Question: Will you talk a little about the style of the movie? Are you shooting it like a film noir?
Answer: I would say, yeah. I mean, you know, one of the ideas for this was we brought it to Los Angeles. It doesn't take place in London. Los Angeles is considered a classic city for noir. We're establishing it in the real world, which is sort of a noir element. We're leaning towards the noir sides of Los Angeles with parts of downtown, parts of Hollywood - Echo Park. We're shooting scenes in places where they shot films like 'Chinatown' and things like that. But what I'm trying to avoid as well is just going down the cliche route of comic book films - doing things at dutched angles and bright colors. We're sticking to darker muted tones. I don't know if it's just classic noir in the look considering most noir films are black-and-white anyway.
Question: Are there any films in particular you looked at before shooting this?
Answer: Um...I'm trying to think of what I looked at. It's interesting. Since the film is set in Los Angeles and deciding to shoot what kind of Los Angeles to show - you know, Los Angeles isn't one type of city. There's a lot of different angles. So, I was looking at movies like 'Amores Perros' and 'Training Day' and things like that. Films that have an ethnicity to them and a specific sort of color palette to them. So, I watched films like that to sort of see the kind of textures and things I wanted to get out of Los Angeles.
Question: Did you and Keanu immediately agree on your concept of the character?
Answer: I think we did. I think, you know, it's interesting because I think Keanu actually has a lot of John Constantine in him, personally. I don't think he's really portrayed anything like John Constantine before, but just the way he is in his every day normal life and the sort of experiences he's had and his view on the world and on people is really sort of similar and I think we both...
Question: We've got to get an explanation for that!
Answer: Well, I don't want to get into anything sort of personal, but I mean, Keanu is kind of a haunted guy and he's sort of elusive and he's kind of mysterious. He's had some sort of tragic things happen to him and I think sort of kind of lives that life a little bit. He's also, I would say, a little self-destructive, which I think Constantine is, you know?
Question: Lauren was talking a little about the horror aspects of the movie and said she just saw a scene you cut together that was really scary. Will you talk about this film as a horror movie?
Answer: Yeah, no, I mean, the idea...this was actually a hard...I don't really think that the studio understands this movie completely and it's one of these...and to be honest, I sort of feel like we're getting away with something because there's a lot of strange things in this. There are some issues in this that are not [in] your typical studio film. There's John and his lung cancer - not brain cancer which all the fans think. There's a bunch of suicides that we deal with. There's some sort of religious themes, religious philosophies on how the world works. There are a lot of layers to this movie...but what there is, is some comedy. There is horror, there are scares, there's some violence...
Answer: There's a little bit, yeah. We don't show it, but there is. There is a little bit of that.
Question: Are you concerned with comparisons to 'Hellboy,' which comes out next spring?
Answer: No, I don't think so. I just recently saw a trailer for 'Hellboy' and I don't think it's going to be similar at all - in terms of tone, in terms of look. Having a character that sort of runs around with all the prosthetics and stuff is one thing - this is going to feel so completely different.
Question: How do you make a film with some of those dark themes and keep it PG-13?
Answer: Well, I'll tell you. It's interesting. We went in, the studio wants it to be PG-13. The script never...we never intentionally went in and changed anything in the script in terms of like, taking out a sex scene or taking out a lot of blood and gore. It never really had that. We always had the intention of going into this movie and sort of treating it...I'll use the movie 'Jacob's Ladder' as a reference in the way that you sort of, it's what you don't see and things that are hidden in shadows. The tough part is, this movie has a lot of things that you can't take out. There are multiple suicides in this movie - multiple. You can't take it out.
Question: But the themes, there are adult themes in the movie...
Answer: There are adult themes and that's what's sort of interesting about this whole process with the studio is trying for PG-13, but we're not taking these things out. They haven't asked us to take these things out and the story depends on these things.
Question: Have you already considered who you're going to have to score the movie?
Answer: Yeah, I mean, I've actually talked to Lisa Gerrard who used to be in the band Dead Can Dance and she has worked with Hans Zimmer a bunch on movies like 'Gladiator' and 'Black Hawk Down.' She and I talked before the movie started filming and she composed an 11-minute piece that I've been using on set and putting it over...we've been cutting stuff here with the video guy and putting the music with it to see how it feels. And playing it on set.
Question: What kind of sound can we expect?
Answer: I mean, it's a little hard to explain. If you know Lisa Gerrard's work, she's a little like world music. She sort of broadens the scope. Since this just takes place in Los Angeles, but the themes are so much more universal, it sort of makes the movie feel like it's on a much broader scale than just in Los Angeles.
Question: Is Gavin Rossdale going to sing?
Answer: Not as we know it right now.
Keanu Reeves stars in "The Matrix Reloaded"
Keanu Reeves has always had the reputation of revealing nothing to the press. Even those who work with him find him a tough nut to crack. His co-star in the Matrix films, Laurence Fishburne, laughingly admitted that he "can't tell you a fucking thing about Keanu. I've been working with him for five years. I don't know a fucking thing about him. All I can tell you about Keanu is that after I've spent that much time with him, I love the motherfucker, but I can't tell you a fucking thing about him." Keanu isn't about to make our lives any easier. Sitting on a studio soundstage and feeling more relaxed than usual, trying to get to know the real Keanu is simply a waste of energy. As good natured as he is, he is not prepared to divulge to the press what Fishburne was unable to uncover over five years, laughingly saying that "Oh yeah, you'll get that right here," when asked what the real Keanu is like. He relishes being an enigma and is happy to remain that way. "So, I want to sit here and cry and reveal my self to you all you fucking crazy guys." At least the now 38-year old star has managed to develop a sense of humour. When it comes to discussing the work, however, Reeves is more passionate, especially regarding the latest Matrix instalment. Clearly one of the year's most anticipated films, Matrix Reloaded again casts Reeves as Neo, aka Thomas Anderson, who, along with the rebel leaders, estimate that they have 72 hours until 250,000 probes discover Zion and destroy it and its inhabitants. During this, Neo must decide how he can save Trinity from a dark fate in his dreams. In part a Messianic fable, the original Matrix was not only a surprise hit when released in 1999, but uts influence on popular culture and cinema in general, remain extraordinary. Reeves is shy in defining the first Matrix's role in pop culture. "I hope that if people did respond to the first one, that they get something out of the second.", though he begrudgingly admits that it certainly influenced a lot of things in cinema."
For Keanu, though an established success at the time of the original Matrix, he has gone through a lot in the last five years, both personally and professionally. More self-assured these days, he says that although he hasn't reflected specifically about how he might have changed since The Matrix, "I'll just say I'm older and older. I don't know. It's such a hard question. With any experience you have, you know more about yourself in terms of what goes on, in terms of being away from home for so long. Then, through that you discover what is important and there are things that inform you, including the friendships along the way." Including the shoot on the first Matrix, Reeves spent close to two years living in Sydney working on the trilogy, or "basically my whole 37th year working on the last Matrix films." The actor admits that "It was really hard to be away from friends and family that long." But at least it was in Sydney and he defines his experiences in the Australian city as being memorable. "I just loved the city. Great people, beautiful weather, beautiful architecturally and there's good cuisine there. In terms of working that way, and working in film, it doesn't happen all the time, if ever, that you have to apply yourself, go for that length of time on a project. And that's okay to me, especially when you love something and you get the extraordinariness of it. It is demanding in terms of missing your friends and family and also applying yourself to your work for that length of time."
It was worth it for Reeves, to suffer through the arduous training and physical pain, in order to help bring the vision of the Wachowski Brothers to the screen. Though he had wisely turned down another sequel [1997's Speed 2], Reeves had become wary about embarking on a project that was less than satisfying. The Matrix changed all of that. "I had also just done Chain Reaction, which was a really bad experience for me. I was tired and these projects were great scripts." And he got to finish the story, not because of the extra money and higher budgets, but because the actor felt they were important to tell. "If anything, the whole thing of The Matrix in terms of Neo is the birth of this man and this new life. Where does it develop, this relationship between the machines, man and the Matrix. In Reloaded some of the things that came up in The Matrix in terms of the digital entities and the Matrix being a place to escape to is also kind of cool."
While Reeves relishes being a part of the Wachowski Brothers vision, it remains a vision that the trilogy's directors themselves won't share with the press. Keanu is reluctant to further define their vision in their place, "because they don't want it defined. I don't think that's something they're interested in giving to anyone who watches the film." But unlike most Hollywood films, this pair of directors was at least able to realise a vision they had been harbouring for years prior to the first film. "I think there's always something you wish you could do more of, but we, the brothers, Warner Bros and all the producers were certainly gave a lot of resources to realizing these pictures, and it's great and I think you see it on the screen. There's a lot of movie up there." And Reeves did put more into this latest duo of films than ever before, in terms of training and keeping better in shape. "some of the things I had to do were a little more advanced, such as some of the multi-fighting and the weapons." Keanu and his fellow cast members spent an initial 6 months in Los Angeles undergoing an intense training schedule, though the actor downplays the rigour of it all. "I just did it through basically practice and learning. Because of the experience of the first one, I had some body memory. I knew what I was going into and so I could pick up the choreography quicker and I knew where I was in wirework. Some of the stuff that was difficult in the first one was kinda like - I know how to do this. And then once I said that, our action choreographer Woo-ping Yuen would say well how about this? Or the brothers would say how about THIS? So then it was the back flips and the cartwheels." It wasn't easy, and even involved the actor occasionally immersing himself in a bathtub full of ice. "sometimes what happens during the first four weeks of training, you're basically tearing micro-muscle tissue every day, so you get inflammation. I'm not 22 anymore and bouncing around, so ice and Epsom salts just help the recovery. Also, sometimes, because you're stretching two hours a day, kicking and stretching and kicking, you get all those tears and inflammation and I get cramps, so cold water tends to help alleviate that so you can sleep or walk upstairs."
It was clearly worth the pain, because at its core, this trilogy of films delves into greater questions than merely the physical. The Matrix redefined a genre by adding complexity, religious undertones and metaphysical symbolism to a futuristic Biblical tale. Even Keanu admits that in working on both Reloaded and November's Revolutions, he was mystified as to why certain scenes or moments were being executed. "but that's also part of the fun of it for me and the audience. Those questions you have are also strongly Neo's questions such as: Do you believe in fate? Why not? I'm not in control of my own life. That whole thing of asking those questions I think is Neo's journey and it was fun to ask them. I have a feeling about what Neil wants and the brothers had a feeling, so in the second one in an odd way I think they kind of invert what happened. In the first one, Thomas Anderson became Neo; his digital self became his real self and his fear of flying became him flying and there's a certain aspect in Reloaded where the hero gets inverted and we're back to Neo as Thomas Anderson. We see HIS fears, his personal kind of hopes and his vulnerabilities."
Almost like the actor himself, but he won't say so. The actor is currently shooting something quite different, a the new untitled romantic comedy from Nancy Meyers, co-starring the stellar likes of Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Amanda Peet and Frances McDormand. "It'l be great to finally show off my funny side." And no, he is not in the running to play Superman, he says. "They've all died or have been injured", he says laughingly, referring to previous actors cast in the legendary role.." Like films that have Johnny in it," he concludes with a wry smile.