9 Nisan 2011 Cumartesi

Keanu Reeves’ Dedication to Art Is No Mystery—Pt. 3

Keanu Reeves’ Dedication to Art Is No Mystery—Pt. 3
Added April 8, 2011
By Elliot V. Kotek
(from Moving Pictures, spring issue, 2011)

Keanu Reeves has embodied popular culture like few other actors, yet he’s retained a level of privacy that has enabled the media to label him “mysterious.” What is a mystery is how Reeves has managed to maintain an element of anonymity in a 24/7 world that denies even minor celebrities their time in the shade.

When I caught up with Reeves for a chat just prior to the U.S. opening of his latest film “Henry’s Crime,” it became clear this is a guy who is all about the work, about applying himself first and foremost to his role, and about ensuring that everyone on set is similarly geared.

By not declaring favorites just as keenly as not revealing others’ secrets — and by being open to all forms of artistic media — Reeves has become one of the most likable (and bankable) stars on the planet. With a box-office cume in the neighborhood of $2 billion, that Reeves gets billed — and sometimes belittled — as one of the “nicest” guys around seems to actually be an injustice to his dedication, application and honest enthusiasm to his work and the meaning of the projects he undertakes.

Reeves was in the Hungarian capital of Budapest when we talked, having just begun rehearsals for Carl Rinsch’s “47 Ronin,” an 18th-century samurai story based on a Japanese legend that co-stars Rinko Kikuchi.

MP: Actors often get asked to comment when their co-stars pass — River Phoenix, Patrick Swayze. And last year we lost Dennis Hopper, with whom you worked on two projects — “River’s Edge” and, of course, “Speed,” which was credited with giving Hopper a career boost. What was it like working with him?

Reeves: It was such an honor. I remember working with him on “River’s Edge.” He’d just finished working on “Blue Velvet” and was really excited about that film. He was just really generous to all of us, just hanging out. … And it was cool to see him again on “Speed.” I got to have a fight scene on top of a subway car with Dennis Hopper [laughs]. Y’know? He was such a good sport, laughing at it like a game, and it was cool just to speak with him. And even just running into him over the years, it was so great spending time with him. You felt alive.

MP: Do you take creature comforts with you when you’re shooting far from home — a dog, a certain type of food to keep you sustained?

Reeves: I don’t, no. But the one thing that’s been following me, speaking of Shakespeare, is a well-thumbed, worn collection of the sonnets, and that’s been going along with me for a while. Once in a while I’ll read them just to speak them aloud. I had five memorized at one point; I can probably do three now. There are certain lines that are just great: “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought, and with old woes new wail my dear times waste.” Y’know?

MP: Some people come up with creative names for their production companies. Yours is a little more direct.

Reeves: [Laughs] Yeah, Stephen Hamel found that. Company Films — we couldn’t believe that it hadn’t been taken. And I think it’s great in the sense of “company” the idea of producing something but also the collaborative, bringing together, aspect of it.

MP: Perhaps due to the mention of your name during the film, you received a “thanks” on Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation.” Meanwhile, her new film “Somewhere” is about a young Hollywood star living at the Chateau Marmont, which you did on and off.

Reeves: I haven’t seen it yet, unfortunately. I can’t wait. I was there for a couple of years on and off between jobs. I would work and come back, work and come back. They were very nice to me; they let me keep some of my belongings there. This was in the early ’90s, and it was fun, it was fun. I was young [laughs], I was working, and I was living in a hotel. Yeah, it was fun.

MP: Did Sofia talk to you about it?

Reeves: No. She didn’t. I don’t think I was her muse. She has many of her own memories — I think her father owned it for one minute. To me there was, and is, a romance to it. It is kind of like the Eastern Gate, the Eastern Castle to the portal of Hollywood on Sunset.

MP: Finishing the hard labor of a shoot — is the week after a wrap active or passive?

Reeves: I tend to try and just keep working; there might be a day or two of just hanging out. Some things I started as something fun that have turned into work are, for example, I started doing this documentary which is about the science, art and impact of digital cinematography: pixel cinema. I’ve been working on that for the last five months, I guess. It’s about this time when the digital camera is side by side with the photochemical image acquisition and kind of looking at what’s going to happen — is it the end of film?
For parts one and two, and for all of Moving Pictures’ coverage of “Henry’s Crime,” visit our “Henry’s Crime” hub page.

Photo courtesy Henry’s Crime LLC

“Henry’s Crime” is distributed by Moving Pictures Film & TV, sister division of MovingPicturesNetwork.com.

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