Keanu Reeves has come under plenty of criticism for his acting ability throughout the course of his career, but you don’t spend 30 years hovering around the upper echelons of the Hollywood A-list without being hugely talented. Admittedly, the internet’s favorite star doesn’t boast the same sort of depth and range as many of his contemporaries, but calling him a bad actor is both a reductive and 100% false statement.
However, he doesn’t always knock it out of the park, and most people would agree that it’s difficult to decide whether his accent or the entirety of his performance in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula is worse. The Godfather director’s lavish gothic horror was a triumph of production design and atmosphere, not to mention a major box office hit that brought in $215 million on a $40 million budget and scooped three Academy Awards, but Reeves was horrifically miscast as Jonathan Harker.
It’s easily the worst work of his entire career, and he only wound up in the role after the studio replaced Coppola’s first choice for the part: Johnny Depp. As Cheat Sheet explains, “despite Winona Ryder and Coppola wanting Depp for the role, they ended up replacing him with Reeves.”
They did so because he was viewed as the bigger star at the time. Sure, Depp may have been hot off the success of Edward Scissorhands, but Reeves’ 1991 saw him feature in action classic Point Break, comedy sequel Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and acclaimed drama My Own Private Idaho, so the decision was made to hire him instead.
Ironically, Depp was in a relationship with Ryder at the time, but after working together on Dracula, she and Reeves have remained close friends ever since, going on to collaborate on a further three movies. Based on the performance that the future action icon wound up delivering in the film, though, Depp would have been a much better choice in hindsight.