Keanu Reeves Missed Out On Playing Wolverine And These Other Big Roles

I think I’m onto a serious Hollywood scoop, you guys. Hear me out. Why exactly was Keanu Reeves looking so glum while eating his sandwich in that photo that spurred the Sad Keanu Meme? Well, probably because the guy has missed out on a slew of killer roles.

I don’t want to sound like I’m selling his 30-year career short. The guy has had his share of commercially and critically successful movies, but even Reeves wishes he was getting more studio work. “It sucks, but it’s just the way it is,” Reeves told Indiewire about his frustration with the films coming his way. “The last studio movie I did was 47 Ronin, but before that, it had been a long time — probably The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

Reeves has several movies coming out in the future, including John Wick 2, so there’s still hope of a studio movie revival, though that would have never been a problem had he not missed out on these seven big movies. How’d that happen? Let’s investigate…

Platoon (1986)

Choosing to take Platoon was a smart move for Charlie Sheen. It established him as a legitimate actor and not just Martin Sheen’s kid, and led to a working relationship with director Oliver Stone. If Keanu Reeves had taken the part of Chris, who knows? We might have seen Gordon Gekko lecturing Reeves about greed in Wall Street.

While talking about the movie with Entertainment Weekly, Stone said he met with Reeves, but the part called for more than the actor was ready for at the time.

EW: I’ve read that a lot of people were also considered for Charlie Sheen’s role: Keanu Reeves, Kyle MacLachlan, and maybe Johnny Depp as well.

Stone: That’s right, Keanu turned it down because of the violence. He didn’t want to do violence.

It’s a bit of a head-scratcher why Reeves would go out for a war movie if he had a problem with violence, and the actor has certainly taken on his share of violent roles over the years. Nevertheless, Reeves landed parts in seven movies that year, so it’s not like he was hanging out on a park bench being mopey.

Heat (1995)

Val Kilmer spent much of the 1990s robbing Keanu Reeves of movie roles. Reeves told the Hollywood Reporter that he always wanted to play Batman, and he lost a part in the crime masterpiece Heat. Reeves had been in talks with Michael Mann and signed on to join Robert De Niro’s crew of bank robbers in the role of Chris Shiherlis. Before filming began, though, Mann found out that Val Kilmer had some downtime while making Batman Forever, and the director decided that he’d rather see Kilmer with a ponytail and machine gun than Reeves.

Bowfinger (1999)

Bowfinger pretty much falls squarely in the middle of both Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy’s film careers; neither incredibly great or terribly bad, just a perfectly fine middle of the road comedy that you might watch if you run across it on cable. Steve Martin supposedly wrote the part of Kit Ramsey specifically for Keanu Reeves, but, by the late ’90s, Reeves had shifted out of comedies and was taking on darker roles like The Devil’s Advocate and The Matrix. Martin then went to Eddie Murphy, who agreed to take the role because he had never worked with Steve Martin, thus giving the movie an entirely different feel than it would have likely had with Reeves.

X-Men (2000)

Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine so many times — X-Men: Apocalypse will make it eight — that any other actor trying to pull off Logan’s sideburns would be laughable. Way back in the late ’90s, though, a number of actors wanted to join up with the X-Men, ranging from Russell Crowe to Aaron Eckhart, and the way out of left field choice, Glenn Danzig. While promoting The Matrix, Reeves told Rip It Up magazine that he had met with Bryan Singer about the part, but wasn’t getting his hopes up.

“As for The X-Men – I’d love to do it, and I met with Bryan, but I’m not really sure if I’m the right one for it. I mean, I love The X-Men comics, but the older comics, the classic ones. I don’t think I’m going to be right. I’d like to – you know when you read something when you’re a kid and you think, ‘I want to do that!!!’ But I’m not sure I can.”

Lord of the Rings (2001)

Keanu as Aragorn would have been an interesting choice, but the guy has been rocking a beard on and off for 20 years, so maybe it could have worked. Reeves revealed in his Reddit AMA that he was a fan of the books growing up, which is probably why he was so hopeful about landing a part when Peter Jackson was casting the films back in 1999.

“I’m petitioning to play Strider. I’d love to work with [Peter Jackson], but I’m not sure if it’s going to go ahead. I hope I can.”

Unfortunately for Reeves, Jackson decided that Viggo Mortensen just looked better in armor.

Shooter (2007)

Picking the right actor to play sniper Bob Lee Swagger was a long and evolving process before Mark Wahlberg eventually won the part. In Stephen Hunter’s 1993 novel, Point of Impact, which the movie is based on, Swagger is sniper who made a name for himself in the Vietnam War. When this version of the story was in development, guys like Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, and Harrison Ford were considered for the part. All of them passed. When producers decided to bring in a younger actor, the story was switched to Africa in the 1990s. Keanu Reeves was the first choice for this younger version of the sharpshooter, but, for whatever reason, he turned it down.

Watchmen (2009)

Keanu is but a mere mortal and simply can’t take every sci-fi action project that comes his way. When director Zack Snyder was assembling his Watchmen, Reeves’ name instantly floated to the top of the list for the role of Dr. Manhattan. The actor was interested in the part, but had his hands busy at the time with The Day the Earth Stood Still. Even though he was unable to take a part in the movie, he told MTV that he still made a point to stop by and say hello.

“I went to the set,” he recalled. “They were shooting in Vancouver while we were filming so I went over to the set to say, ‘hi.’ They showed me some stuff and it looks amazing! I can’t wait. It’s going to be so killer, man!”