It feels like it’s been awhile since we have seen Keanu Reeves star in anything. His last big movie was The Day The Earth Stood Still back in 2008, and since then he has been laying low and starring mostly in independent films like The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and Henry’s Crime. There’s also the time that he has spending trying to finish up 47 Ronin, which has been delayed countless times on its way to the silver screen.
This month, Reeves will appear on the big screen in Generation Um…, a movie that marks the feature film directorial debut of American photographic artist Mark Mann.
In Generation Um…, Reeves plays John, an aimless man who lives in downtown New York and who finds that he’s getting too old for the trendy neighborhood he inhabits. His job is as a driver for an escort service, and he spends his days driving Violet (Bojana Novakovic) and Mia (Adelaide Clemens) around town to their various dates, which are anything but glamorous. One day, John ends up stealing a video camera and uses it to photograph the two women who come to reveal things about themselves that they wouldn’t off camera. It soon unravels both their lives as they try to outdo one another in their secrets and opinions.
We got to meet up with Reeves when he dropped by the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills for the Generation Um… press conference. While he remains a man with only so much to say, he did share some interesting anecdotes about the making of this particular film.
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: Your character is kind of a kleptomaniac in the film.
Keanu Reeves: Yes I steal a camera and some chocolate (laughs).
We Got This Covered: When you were playing the character what do you think that did for the film?
Keanu Reeves: Stealing the camera was the only thing he could do in order to have that camera. We see him walk up to a camera store earlier and then we see him retrieve a broken television set, and in that moment he’s just kind of explained to this other character how he’s felt trapped in his life. In this moment of watching this group of people do this improvisational dance in this part of lower east side New York, he sees an opportunity for something that he’s interested in, and it’s one of the times that he steps outside of himself and he takes it.
And I think for the candy bar, he’s hungry and he wants chocolate (laughs) and he’s depressed. There’s a part of him that likes to steal, there’s a pleasure in it. There’s a little bit of a nuance to that character. We talked about how I was going to steal the candy bar, and Mark said “I’m going to introduce you to this magician!” And I was like “Mark, I know how to steal a candy bar.”
We Got This Covered: Being a character of such few words, you’re forced to rely on what you are emoting. What was the biggest challenge in that?
Keanu Reeves: To me that was a wonderful opportunity. I would say the scariest scene was the scene where John and Violet come together because in playing John I had no idea how that could actually happen. How could this person who felt so vulnerable and insular and who wanted to reach out and had so many questions, how could he help someone really? How is that going to happen? How do these two people hug each other?
We Got This Covered: Bojana Novakovic and Adelaide Clemens talked about how great the rehearsal process was, getting to know you and getting your attention. Can you elaborate on the whole rehearsal process and the improvisation that went on when it came to having the camera in the picture?
Keanu Reeves: There was no improvisation in the sense of dialogue in any of the movie until the end credits scene, but then there was the question of how we were going to do certain scenes. Mark was really collaborative and always shared his perspective and then asked what was your perspective. When we got together, we found that we were all so fond of the piece. We would almost sometimes talk about it in third person, and then we would get into it and there was a real camaraderie with us. Mark asked me to go on the street to take some pictures and then do his project. Adelaide and Bojana and I went out to a bar and took pictures that are on the fridge in the movie. There was a lot of life and art coming together which, when you’re making a film, that’s one of the coolest things.
We Got This Covered: At the end of making this movie, what did you appreciate or take away most from working with Mark Mann?
Keanu Reeves: Well it was a good piece of bread! We made some nice dough! I was just happy to be part of that recipe. There were so many pleasures that Mark’s story offered me as an actor, and also just something to my taste; this idea of hope for these trapped characters. Also the way he was trying to tell the story in a non-traditional way, not reinventing the wheel but paying homage to a lot a levels cinematically and contextually and also with respect to the audience. I would say the opportunity to be creative and making the movie was what I took away most.
We Got This Covered: We were curious if you had any comments on the upcoming Point Break remake?
Keanu Reeves: Oh yeah I think it’s exciting (laughs)!
We Got This Covered: Can you also tell us anything about Bill & Ted 3?
Keanu Reeves: I haven’t seen a full script for it yet, but it’s coming along. I’ve seen bits and pieces of a script and it looks good. That’s all I can say about it for now.
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Keanu for talking with us. Be sure to check out Generation Um…, in theatres this Friday.