The success of Speed should
have been a fast track to super-stardom for KEANU REEVES. Can The Devil’s Advocate reignite a career that seems to have stalled? Words: Hannah Fries
TO SAY THAT Keanu Reeves is unexcitable is an understatement. He strolls in and slumps into a chair without so much as an interested glance at his surroundings. And when he does speak. he is less than forthcoming.
'()h gosh.’ he says every so often. when a question meets him unprepared. Certainly it is easier to imagine him slouched slacker—style over a bass guitar in his band. Dogstar. than scratching rivals‘ eyes out in the Hollywood fast latte. With his beautifully expressionless face and a voice that barely registers an inflection. he gives the impression of being a bit of a dolt. That he was cast in Bill And 7ed’s Eire/lent Adventure suddenly makes perfect sense.
Satan's little helper: Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate
3’0 THE “ST 9--22 Jan 1998
Reeves was on the brink of big time mega- bucks when Speed was released in 1994 and became a runaway hit. Most actors and their agents would have done everything to ensure that such success was followed up by another surefire blockbuster. But not Reeves. He next made the lame. low-budget. ‘dark comedy’ feeling Minnesota; he toured with his band (including a trip to Scotland for T in the Park in 1996): and he made duff studio movies Johnny Mnemonic and Chain Reaction.
All this may be to Reeves’s credit, indicating a chilled-out guy who prefers to follow his heart. rather than his ego, into projects. Or it may be a case of bad choices and basic lack of motivation. The fact is. Reeves gives away so little about himself that what he is really like is anyone’s guess.
‘I’ve done some films that wanted to be mainstream, but didn’t quite jump in there — they kind of got rejected.’ he says in his slow, mellow voice. ‘But I make choices that are
‘I describe myself sometimes as a company man. The company says, "We have only one shot at it, so go do it", and I do it, Keanu Reeves
artistic first. This film. The Devil's Advocate, is a Hollywood film. which brings opportunities to filmmaking — time. scope and release. But it’s not your average Hollywood picture in terms of being so obviously plot—driven. I call them “follow the carrot" movies. This is story—telling in a different way. Less obvious. lt’s dramatic. meltxlramatic; there‘s farce. satire. It came in the same time as Speed 2, and I said no to the other picture because I didn’t like the script.‘
The Devil ’5 Advocate also stars Al Pacino as the larger-than—life, increasingly ominous boss of a New York law firm. Surely the opportunity to act with Pacino must have excited him.
‘To work with Al Pacino is incredible.’ drawls Reeves. ‘He fights for scenes. He fights to know them, he fights to fill them. If the production wants to move on, he’ll sometimes slow it down and say. “Hey. if we’ve got to shoot this scene. we’ve got to shoot this way. Why? Because of my performance.”
‘He protects himself. He puts his hand in everything. He talks to producers. That’s something that I haven’t always done. I describe myself sometimes as a company man. The company says. “We have only one shot at it. so go do it". and I do it. But Al might say, “You know, we might have two shots”.’
With the inklings of a more introspective Keanu Reeves emerging, it seems the right time to ask him if he was intimidated by starring alongside the great one.
‘Uh, I would say when I first met him, of course.’ he admits. ‘I mean. you’re meeting The Man, y’know‘? I felt self-conscious in the first rehearsals when l wasn’t quite secure with my part yet. I was spinning around, still trying to figure things out; but he’s got such a presence, he just sits there. I’m hemming and hawwing, and he’s just looking. And sometimes I’d think, “Oh God, I’m not doing too well here in front ofAl Pacino.” But after a while you just, y‘know . . . you go to work.’
The Devil's Advocate goes on general release on Fri 16 Jan. See review, page 42.