Michele Manelis meets the meditative man behind the action-packed John Wick franchise - Keanu Reeves.
Do you know how many people you've killed throughout the John Wick franchise?
I don't. But people are trying to kill me, so I am not really concerned. I'm more concerned with how many people are alive.
There is some pretty spectacular scenery in the film. What was your favourite location?
I had never been to the Sahara Desert before and I'd always wanted to go. It was really wondrous to walk on that incredibly red-coloured sand, [under] the huge sky; just the vastness of it. As a human standing on this planet, being in that place, you are, of course, humbled but also energised and vulnerable. And so to be able to pretend and play there was quite a gift.
You work with some pretty scary german shepherds in the movie. What was that like?
I was told, 'Don't look them in the eye.' But eventually we got comfortable.
I was reading about the Keanu Film Festival going on in Scotland. What did you think of Keanu-con when you first heard about it?
My first reaction was, "What films are they showing?" And after that, I was like, "Cool." Then I thought about it and I felt, "That's weird." But then after a while, I was like, "That's cool."
And you didn't want to go to your own namesake's festival?
I didn't receive an invitation!
Your name has become synonymous with martial arts for many years – due to the Matrix films, 47 Ronin, and the John Wick franchise. Is ju-jitsu your martial arts style?
I don't have a martial arts background, I just know movie fighting. With John Wick, all the people who trained me and showed me the choreography taught me a lot of different styles.
Your name means "Cool Breeze over the mountains" in Hawaiian. Many people have named their sons after you. How does that feel?
Yes. I've met a couple. If the child is there in front of me, I say, "How do you do, Keanu?" I have to tell you, it's an honour.
You usually play the man who saves the day. Off-screen, when Keanu screams, "Help!" who comes running? Or do you believe in helping yourself?
Whether you are a believer in it or not, you generally have to help yourself and it's also great if you can have help. I have only yelled help once in my life. I had a motorcycle accident in Topanga Canyon. It was at night and I yelled for help. And out of the darkness, someone yelled, "Help is on the way!" And then I saw the flashing lights of an ambulance coming down a hill. So thank you, whoever you are for that! I never met them.
We often see you on your motorcycle. What happens when you don't ride for a period of time?
I definitely go through withdrawals if I am not riding a motorcycle, for sure.
What do you get out of riding?
So much. Well, since you used the word riding, first of all, I like the aesthetics of a motorcycle. It's fun. And I love the vibration, the movement, the independence of it, and I like the way that you can travel and move in the world on them. It's quite thrilling to ride them. There's a physical pleasure, and it's a great place to think and to feel or not to think and not to feel. There's something about being in the moment with a motorcycle that is special.
How much is music still a part of your life? What is Dogstar doing now?
The band broke up a while ago and we've got together a couple of times to play. I have a bass at home and once in a while I will play the bass.
How is life in Los Angeles? Can you go about your day without being hassled?
In Los Angeles, my days are pretty normal. Other than the tourists who are in those vans that go around and sit outside everybody's home. I will come out in the morning and get my newspaper and when they're there, sometimes you feel like an animal in a cage. It feels like they are looking [for a celebrity] and they're like, "There's one!" But in Los Angeles no one really cares. There is definitely paparazzi in LA but I don't go out much. I'm pretty boring.
You're always described as "a man of few words" and in a lot of your movies the emphasis is on your physicality. What's your relationship to verbal versus physical expression?
Well, I don't really have a particular ambition or a drive and I don't think about it like that. I really just play roles where I get to play the best I can. Yeah, I guess I have been described that way because in many of my performances I don't speak a lot. John Wick, he doesn't need a soliloquy but he certainly has some moments.
I noticed that you were meditating before we started our interview. Is that something you do often?
I fall into it once in a while. I don't meditate regularly but I highly recommend it for everyone.
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is out May 16