Sure, we’ve seen Keanu Reeves make like Superman and defy the laws of physics in “The Matrix” trilogy, but rest assured, you haven’t seen him bust heads like he does in the crime thriller “Street Kings.” From the opening moments of the David Ayer-directed flick (it’s no surprise to learn that he wrote the similarly themed “Training Day”), which find the normally serene Reeves downing booze like he’s on a permanent lost weekend and knocking down doors like he’s Russell Crowe in “L.A. Confidential,” you’ll know you’re in for something different.
And that’s no surprise from the experimental Reeves, an actor who’s always up for a challenge. MTV News caught up with the enigmatic actor to talk about his starring role in a highly anticipated sci-fi remake (“The Day the Earth Stood Still”), why Bill & Ted may go on one more adventure, and how he somehow got the Gary Busey role (“Point Break,” anyone?) in his latest film.
MTV: Is part of the appeal of “Street Kings” the opportunity to tap into the darker parts of your nature?
Keanu Reeves: Yes. It was a really interesting role and obviously a great stretch. The director called me a hippie and said, “We have to get rid of that guy.” I really appreciated that opportunity.
MTV: It’s an extremely violent movie. What’s your own threshold for violence in film?
Reeves: I’m not really into the horror porn. I don’t find that entertaining personally. But on some levels, when violence is done to my liking, there’s a part of it that I like. I want it to have a reason. Violence for violence’s sake, I’m not really into it. I’m not on the Internet trying to find the next beheading. I have friends who do, and I’m not one of those people.
MTV: There are some great mano-a-mano scenes between you and Forest Whitaker and you and Hugh Laurie in this one.
Reeves: They’re thrilling. You’re working with a fellow artist and you’re pushing each other creatively and challenging and reaching for something. If it goes well, it’s really a good day, because it’s play. When my character and Forest’s face-off at the end of the movie, we’re both in each other’s faces talking about the truth and “Why did you do what you did?” Those are good scenes.
MTV: There’s a foot chase in this film that had me thinking back to “Point Break.” Except in this one it’s Chris Evans doing the running and you’re in the car. So does that make you Gary Busey?
Reeves: Yes. I am. When we were shooting that sequence, I wasn’t the guy running anymore, I was the guy driving the car. The old veteran! It was nice. I got to be the old guy in the car and let the kid run. [Laughs.]
MTV: You’re no stranger to sci-fi, and you’ve just shot another big one, the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Why do you love the genre so much?
Reeves: Wow, big question. I really enjoy science-fiction. As a genre, it’s very flexible. It’s almost an über-genre. You can do science-fiction romance or drama or horror. It always carries something else with it.
MTV: The first “The Day the Earth Stood Still” was very much an allegory. Is there as much of a commentary in this one?
Reeves: Yeah. Absolutely. The first one was born out of the Cold War and nuclear détente. Klaatu [the protagonist in the film] came and was saying, “Cease and desist with your violence. If you can’t do it yourselves, we’re going to do it.” That was the film of that day. The version I was just working on, instead of being man against man, it’s more about man against nature. My Klaatu says, “If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives. I’m a friend to the Earth.”
MTV: Sounds like Al Gore will be a fan.
Reeves: Well, it’s trying to reach beyond the idea of environmentalism. It’s dealing with not just the consequences of what we’re doing, but who we are as a species.
MTV: Do you say the immortal words, “Klaatu barada nikto”?
Reeves: I do.
MTV: I assume Gort looks a bit different than the tin man of the original.
Reeves: Hey, man, don’t put that tin man down. That was iconoclastic. Except for “Metropolis,” that might be the best [robot]. Yes, we have another version of the tin man.
MTV: Would you call it an action movie?
Reeves: It’s more of a propulsive drama with a road movie in there.
MTV: I have to ask you about “Bill & Ted.” When was the last time you spoke to Alex Winter?
Reeves: We spoke on the phone the other day. We’re great friends.
MTV: Do you think we’ll ever see Ted Theodore Logan again?
Reeves: I hear they’re doing a remake! The most serious we ever got was a few years ago. I had once mentioned doing it when we were 40. Now maybe the only shot we have is to do it when we’re 50. I don’t know who’s going to remember by then. [Laughs.]
MTV: Where are the Wyld Stallions today?
Reeves: They’re in each and every one of us.
MTV: There was a lot of talk for a while that you were going to play Dr. Manhattan in the “Watchmen” film. Did you want to do it?
Reeves: Yeah, absolutely. It just didn’t work out.
MTV: So it was just scheduling, that kind of thing?
Reeves: Yeah, but they got [Billy] Crudup to play it, who’s fantastic.
MTV: There are a lot of people, myself included, who are just dying to see how that turns out.
Reeves: Man, I went to the set. They were shooting in Vancouver while we were filming, so I went over to the set to say hi. They showed me some stuff, and it looks amazing! I can’t wait. It’s going to be so killer, man!
MTV: Are your days of performing with bands like Dogstar and Becky behind you?
Reeves: Socially, I still jam, but I haven’t played in a rock club recently. I don’t know how that’s going to happen. I do miss it.
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