Netflix’s habit of dropping trailers shortly before a movie or TV series debuts might be due to the streaming giant’s awareness of people’s short attention spans. It’s also obviously smart to save money on months of promotion like theatrical releases must do. So, audiences weren’t aware that Keanu Reeves would have a scene-stealing role in the Ali Wong-starring romcom, Always Be My Maybe, until a few weeks before release time. Suddenly, folks looked forward to Keanu swaggering in slo-mo for a role in which he played a version of himself and even improvised some of the better moments.
You might wonder how Wong and Netflix got lucky enough to land Reeves, but the truth is that Reeves was also pretty fortunate to land the role. After all, Wong’s requirements for the actor who fit the role were pretty tough to satisfy. She wanted all of her character’s love interests (also played by Daniel Dae Kim and Randall Park) to be “funny, a great actor and an Asian American icon.” Reeves fit the bill, as Wong told Hollywood Reporter, and Park weighed in on why he believes that Reeves took the role:
“He told me that when he considers doing a project, it’s all about the people, the script and the director. He must’ve liked all three of those things because he said ‘yes’ …. [and the] only person in the entire universe who fits all [my] parameters is Keanu Reeves,” Wong said.
When the actor signed onto the project, Park said he couldn’t believe it but wasn’t surprised when he took the role. “He was a big fan of (Wong’s Netflix stand-up) Baby Cobra, so that I think was the key to getting him,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
Reeves has often spoken about his Chinese-Hawaiian heritage within interviews over the years, and the John Wick star recently told Essence that he does self-identify as a person of color but is “not a spokesperson” for the Asian-American community. As for Wong’s further perspective on hiring him, she recently told Vulture that in addition to Reeves fitting her stated criteria for the role, it was important to cast someone who’d be the “worst nightmare” of Park’s character, Marcus. Clearly, Keanu would be considered a “worse” rival than Daniel Dae Kim’s character, who was engaged to Wong’s Sasha when the movie began. Well, Keanu does steal much of the movie during his extended cameo, but the project shines on an overall basis. Always Be My Maybe definitely deserves a spot in your queue.