This was one of my favorite press conferences of all time. The one thing about doing interviews, is that normally people want to talk about what they have done. You give them a chance and they’ll go on and on about it, which is great because that’s what we’re looking for. Keanu Reeves is a man of very few words, but when he speaks he’s brilliant.
I got the impression from Keanu that he really doesn’t give a fuck about what he says or how he’s perceived. Hell, he’s Keanu Reeves! The press hounds him, he has received less than great reviews on some (many) of his performances, and yet he has continued to work steadily for two decades in one of the most cut-throat industries and is one of the highest paid actors of all time. So yeah I kind of agree with his, ‘you can all go fuck yourselves I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing’ demeanor. At least the man is consistent!
To add to that, he gave one of my all time favorite answers to a question. Often at a press conference you get some pointless questions, but rarely do you get such a great retort.
Question: Keanu, this film is all about change, is there something about you you’d like to change about yourself?
At this point Keanu crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair and said completely deadpan…
KR: No, I’m perfect.
Everyone laughed and waited for him to continue, but he just sat back with a blank stare until everyone became uncomfortable and the conference moved on.
How brilliant is that?!
Check out the interview below. It starts off with a little bit from Director Scott Derrickson, just to set the scene. Make sur, to make note of the difference in the length between both of their answers…
Can you talk about taking a sacred text for science fiction buffs and making it for the 21st century?
Scott Derrickson: 20th Century Fox wanted to do a remake and I was the first of the people here to sign on to doing it. When I was given the script I was a bit skeptical. I do love the original very much. It’s one of my two favorite Robert Wise films. [The other is] The Haunting. Picking two from his 40 I think is even quite a thing but for me it was really this, that in reading the screenplay, the screenplay certainly still needed work when I read it but I was struck by the idea that updating this movie had tremendous value because of the original being so rooted in the social issues of its time. It was such an intelligent and interesting self-reflective commentary, coming from an American studio and an American filmmaker, on the Cold War and the fear of the atomic bomb and the struggle to establish the UN, and things that were controversial. I loved the idea of being able to tell basically the same story but bring in these new social issues that we have now, these new interesting messes that we’ve gotten ourselves into now in the world and that alone seemed to have value to it and made sense. I think the other thing was it’s been 57 years since the first one and you’d better have a good reason to remake a classic film but I do think that there’s something different about this film as opposed to other classics, which are so much more known by the general movie-going audience and I think there’s value to telling this story to the general movie-going population who for the most part won’t have seen the original and won’t know that story. My approach to it was that was the motivation and then the approach was to try to respect the original and also respect the fan base and the fact that it is a sacred movie to a lot of people.
Keanu Reeves: I had the same question you had, and I then heard that answer. And I went, ‘OK and it would be fun to play an alien, and it’s a worthwhile story.” And that’s when I came on board.
But he’s not fully alien?
KR: That’s correct. That was part of the interesting side of the role was that it starts alien and becomes quite human.
The film is about saving the earth—what do you do personally to help the planet and the environment?
KR: All I can. Recycle, a couple solar panels and some rainforest conservation. Oh yeah, and make this movie.
I was reminded of Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone in your performance. What did you base your character on?
KR It really came to me through the obligations of the character in the story. It was in the script. That’s really where I worked from, the character has certain cues, when he’s born and the first time he starts to speak and he tries to drink a glass of water and says, “This body is going to take some getting used to.” So it was just kind of the concept of the separation of his consciousness and his body. And what else? I just approached it like any other role. What does it want?
You didn’t think of Rod Serling?
Keanu, is there something about the sci-fi genre that keeps pulling you back? Or is a film like this like doing any other movie?
KR: Well, I love the genre and I approach it like any other film. I guess that’s the short answer. Science fiction provides great storytelling opportunities and in the past I’ve just been fortunate to be part of good stories in science fiction genre films.
Keanu, this film is all about change, is there something about you you’d like to change?
KR: No, I’m perfect.
Was the chalkboard scene with John Cleese appeared to be almost musical, was it designed that way?
KR: That was intentional. We were thinking about it as a kind of dance and conversation.
In The Day the Earth Stood Still you had to speak Chinese, did you have to learn the language?
KR: No, I just had to learn the dialogue for the scene.
This is basically when the press conference basically ended and everyone accosted Keanu. I think a lot of these questions are better than the ones in the conference…
What are you doing next? Do you know?
KR: I don’t. I’m working on working.
Taking a break?
KR: No, I’m just trying to find a good film and good role.
Are you surprised they’re always talking sequels to Bill and Ted or Speed?
KR: Yeah, it’s kind of a new thing, isn’t it? I guess enough time has passed.
Is there one sequel you’d really like to make?
KR: I wouldn’t mind doing another Constantine.
Could that happen?
KR: I don’t know.
So great. More from Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, and Scott Derrickson to come!