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Film

Revisit a wonderfully retro interview with Keanu Reeves

Over the years, Keanu Reeves has established himself as Hollywood’s ultimate introvert, a reserved and private, yet incredibly dedicated actor. Starring in over 80 films, television shows, and video games since the 1980s, he has since been named one of the greatest actors of the 21st century.

The star made his first screen appearance in 1984 on an episode of Hangin’ In. In 1988, he appeared in the Academy Award-nominated Dangerous Liaisons, followed by Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure the next year. However, by the early 1990s, Reeves was recognised as an established member of his profession. One of his best performances was alongside River Phoenix as a street hustler in My Own Private Idaho in 1991, directed by Gus Van Sant. Both actors, who formed a close friendship before Phoenix’s untimely death in 1993, were praised for their “insightful” performances.

Throughout the ’90s, Reeves starred in such films as Kathryn Bigelow’s action thriller Point Break, Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and The Matrix series directed by the Wachowski sisters. The latter launched Reeves into mainstream stardom and saw him undergo intense martial arts training in preparation for the role.

This partly inspired his directorial debut which was released in 2013. Entitled Man of Tai Chi, a martial arts film assisted by the fight choreographer from the Matrix series, Yuen Woo-ping, the film was received with mixed reviews and was a commercial disappointment, only grossing $5.5 million in comparison to its $25 million budget.

However, Reeves bounced back from a string of commercial failures with a starring role in the John Wick series, which has spawned three films, and one more to be released next year. An event even took place in Glasgow, Scotland, titled ‘KeanuCon’ to honour the actor, which screened nine of the star’s films over two days.

A rare interview that originally aired in 1994 on Channel 4 shows the then 31-year-old actor interviewed in a set akin to that of a little girl’s bedroom. Sporting a bruised eye, Reeves tells the interviewer that he received the injury in a street hockey incident.

The interviewer goes on to ask Reeves if he is really the “sprite” that he appears to be in other interviews, to which he replies, “I can be”. This leads to a conversation about what the star does when he’s not acting. Reeves states that he likes to play with his band, see friends, and even learn how to ballroom dance.

This band that he alludes to is called Dogstar, an alternative rock outfit that Reeves formed in 1991 alongside actor Robert Mailhouse, Gregg Miller, and Bret Domrose. Reeves played bass for the band, which started in a garage, before gaining moderate attention, partly due to Reeves’ fame as an actor. They supported David Bowie at his Hollywood Palladium gig in 1995 and toured around the US and Asia on their own headline tour. The band broke up in 2002, after two albums and an EP, however, they remain an important part of the alt-rock ’90s scene, even giving Weezer their first ever gig in 1992.

The interviewer also asks the notoriously private actor about his love life, to which he gives very vague answers. She asks him, “What kind of girls do you like?” to which he replies: “They’re all angels”. Reeves states that he has not had many long-term relationships, the longest being a year and a half. Reeves also claims that he only goes to big Hollywood parties “once in a while,” which is one of the reasons why people know so little about him. Actor Shia LaBeouf, who starred alongside Reeves in Constantine, stated that despite the fact that he had “worked with him for a year and a couple of months” he didn’t “really know him that much”.

The interview demonstrates Reeve’s gentle and soft-spoken demeanour which has led to the internet labelling the actor as the “Internet’s boyfriend”. It is evident that Reeves is one of Hollywood’s more likeable stars – he has set up a cancer foundation that provides research into the disease and aids children’s hospitals and has donated significant portions of his earnings to others.

See the clip, below.