“The simple act of paying attention can take you a long way.” — Keanu Reeves

In 1987, Interview did a small profile on Keanu Reeves because River’s Edge had dropped and he was the hot new thing. I saved that profile all these years because something about him really struck me, then and now. (To those of you just discovering him, welcome.) He spoke with a stilted yet earnest tone. He didn’t talk like other up-and-comers. He sounded unique, his own man. That short interview ended with a quote from him that also struck me:

“You know my favorite role? Mercutio – you know, in Romeo and Juliet – ’cause he’s so full of passion and wisdom and anger. I don’t know. I just live out here in L.A., man. Been out here two years from Toronto. L.A.’s a twisted place. It’s a varied animal. I guess it’s like free ways. Get it? Two words. I don’t know. Nothing’s for free, huh?”

There it is. That tone. It caught my attention. Especially since I had gone to see River’s Edge (because of course I did). His words showed an odd grace and trust in himself.

Plus it made me think: He’s smart. Smart actors know that Mercutio is a WAY better role than Romeo.

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8 Responses to “The simple act of paying attention can take you a long way.” — Keanu Reeves

  1. Melissa Sutherland says:

    I am so glad you mentioned the way he speaks. I’ve always loved his voice. I never really thought about it as tone, etc., the way you explained it. I just know that so many youngish (to me) actors kind of sound alike. You’d never confuse Cary Grant with John Wayne, would you? I’ll say it again, I love his voice. I’ve not seen many of his movies but always thought Diane Keaton should have chosen him in whatever that movie was called! And I love that clip. He really surprised Stephen Colbert.

    • sheila says:

      // always thought Diane Keaton should have chosen him in whatever that movie was called! //

      He was so excellent in that. So believable. He never makes a big actor-y deal out of being believable.

      Normally I am NOT into stuff like this, but in trolling through YouTube, I came across a channel of a motivational guy who teaches people how to be confident and successful and manage confrontation – I mean, totally not my thing – but some of his analysis is really interesting, and he uses celebrities as baselines, or launching pads for discussion. And there’s a whole Keanu Reeves “episode” – where he talks about the false idea that introverts need to become more extroverted in order to be successful – or that there’s something wrong with being an introvert. And Keanu Reeves is clearly an introvert and yet hasn’t suffered at all – anyway, I thought it was very interesting and there are some very good observations about KR’s “essence”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHHwE8Y-pqk

      • Melissa Sutherland says:

        OMG, how did I miss this guy on Youtube? I live there some days. Totally not my thing either but loved this. I’m so glad you write about people like Reeves. He is so under appreciated. Though you are right, he’s done just fine for an introvert. hahaha
        Thanks for this.

      • Melissa Sutherland says:

        I can be a cynic and was ready to trash this guy (Charisma…., really?) but he opened with CS Lewis and closed with the same clip you used from Colbert. And he put into words why I like Keanu Reeves. So, again, thanks for sending me there.

        • sheila says:

          yeah no he has some really good observations. Check out his Russell Brand analysis. He’s obsessed with Russell Brand. I also enjoy his analysis of a fascinating and VERY uncomfortable interview Robert Downey Jr. gave to a prying clueless interviewer – and how beautifully Downey Jr handled it – even though he was very angry, you could tell.

          I get a lot from this guy’s channel, I think he has a really good eye!

          • Melissa Sutherland says:

            Will check these out. I blow hot and cold with R. Brand. Sometimes I love him, he’s smart, other times I find him smarmy. Oh well. RDJ I’ve come to admire greatly. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Kristen Westergaard says:

    I was slow to appreciate KR. Thought of him as a dopey pretty boy. But over time I slowly began to feel that he was unusually earnest in his choice of roles and his performances, and then I started to really value him as a performer because it seemed like he brought something true to his performances- not a chameleon kind of actor- but an actor who just means what he is doing.
    Also, get a lot of enjoyment out of the YouTuber you mention. He zeroes in on lots of nuance.

    • sheila says:

      He’s so earnest! Perfect word. He’s so relaxed, and tender – he’s disarming but not at all in a manipulative way. I just love how he’s done his career – there really isn’t another one like it. and I think back to when he first “hit” – River’s Edge – I remember clocking him THEN and we’re about the same age. but then like Parenthood and Bill and Ted … I never would have predicted we’d be here so many years later talking about him. I love it when that happens – the unexpected. It’s an endurance test. and he’s just getting better and better, more relaxed, more himself. I just love him!

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