John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum‘s highly anticipated status has everyone offering up their kingdom to witness the sheer spectacle of Keanu Reeves tearing through New York City on a horse and insisting that this isn’t all because of a puppy. Yet there was a time that Reeves felt cast away from Hollywood. Yes, that’s hard to believe, given that his Duke Caboom character is a huge reason why people are also looking forward to Toy Story 4, but Reeves is spilling a little tea on his late 1990s snubbing (an excommunicado order in real life, if you will). This and other tidbits surfaced when the Bill and Ted legend sat down for an extensive GQ profile that arrives on newsstands on April 16.
While speaking to writer Alex Pappademas, Reeves claims that Fox put him in “movie jail” for a decade because he decided not to do Speed 2. That 1997 sequel (which starred Jason Patric, the returning Sandra Bullock, and a bomb on a cruise ship) tried to make (unbelievable) lightning strike twice and failed while only reaping $48 million at the U.S. box office as opposed to the 1994 film’s $121 million take. Reeves may or may not have smelled a stinker while deciding to pull a theater stint instead, but he apparently paid the price:
You’d think he’d have his choice of projects. But you’d be surprised. “Movie jail” is real. He’s been there. He was excommunicado at Fox for a decade after turning down Speed 2 to go play Hamlet onstage in f*cking Winnipeg: “I didn’t work with [Fox] again until The Day the Earth Stood Still.”
As kickass as Reeves is as John Wick, he appears to be surprised to be playing such a demanding action role at age 54. Yet while Fox kept him off their roster for a good decade, he obviously fared well with Warner Bros. in The Matrix trilogy, which launched in 1999 and reaped nearly $600 million in the U.S. and over $1.6 billion globally. Surely, he doesn’t regret not doing Speed 2 at this point, although John Wick trilogy director Chad Stahelski tells GQ that every studio said no to the “over-the-hill assassin whose wife dies of natural causes, gives him a puppy, some Russian punk kills his puppy, and he kills 84 people” before Thunder Road Pictures picked up the 2014 first installment that was eventually distributed by Summit Entertainment.
Reeves’ entire GQ feature is well worth reading and includes his takes on BLTs on ciabatta bread versus on toast (he’s unsurprisingly old-school on this issue). He also gives wonderfully perceptive feedback on how his “dude” persona has lingered since first playing Ted “Theodore” Logan in 1989, and he discusses how he occasionally still has “the moments, where you drink the whiskey and you get the records out and you start doing the DJ thing until four in the morning.” Read the full feature, including Daniel Jackson’s photos of the fabulously sunglassed-and-sideburned icon, here.
John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum hits theaters on May 17, 2019.