Keanu Reeves has had an incredible run lately with the John Wick franchise. But before the gun-toting antihero could rack up hundreds of kills in the adrenaline-fueled adventure across the globe, he gave us other incredible albeit equally violent high-octane cinemas to go to. Renowned for his unmitigated humility and a good eye for projects, the actor who has garnered a reputation for being the most beloved celebrity on the planet also delivered lovable films like Speed and the Bill and Ted trilogy. But rarely are those brought up in regular mentions associated with the actor in the face of masterpieces like The Matrix and John Wick.
Keanu Reeves Began His Rise in the Early ’90s With Speed
Over the decades, Hollywood has been unable to reach Keanu Reeves the way fame and celebrity do others. With his knack for action films, he has made a career showing off his skills in martial arts and his knowledge of wielding weapons – an image that highly contrasts with the one he is known for in reality outside of the world of reels. This same affinity for a taut and action-filled thriller also went into his decision for picking up scripts even before he logged on to the mainframe of namedrop action movie directors with 1999’s The Matrix.
The 1994 high-octane thriller, Speed, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock has just as much drive and fire as any other Reeves movie. Only, the action this time is limited to Reeves stuck trying to protect the city of Los Angeles from a bomber with a mission. Most of the sequence which takes place inside public transport – a city bus – witnesses the actor racing against time (and speed) to diffuse a bomb before it explodes and kills dozens of passengers.
Given its success among the audience, director Jan de Bont and 20th Century Fox were on board for a sequel, but a disagreement would then go on to pollute the waters between Reeves and the studio in the coming years.
Keanu Reeves Saved Himself From a Career Blunder
For most actors, a sequel to an already highly successful film would be an immediate nod on their part. But Keanu Reeves didn’t make a successful career out of his limited filmography by simply saying yes to whatever projects were thrown his way. Once he went over the script of the Speed sequel, he had known it was doomed to fail. On one hand, he knew he was making the right choice by rejecting the offer, on the other, he was teetering on the borders of disrespecting the studio executives and the director – all of whom were putting in extra effort to get him to agree.
“When I was offered Speed 2, Jan came to Chicago and so did Sandra, and they said, ‘You’ve got to do this.’ And I said, ‘I read the script and I can’t. It’s called Speed, and it’s on a cruise ship.’ I told him, ‘If I do this film, I will not come back up. You guys will send me to the bottom of the ocean and I will not make it back up again.’ I really felt like I was fighting for my life.”
As it turns out, Reeves indeed was right in his assumption. Speed 2: Cruise Control which was directed by Jan de Bont and witnessed Sandra Bullock reprising her role as Annie Porter, had to replace Reeves’ part with Jason Patric who took up the part of Alex Shaw. The film sank at the box office, as was predicted by Reeves, and Fox eventually conceded with his decision to step his foot down on his decision to not return after the film tallied a paltry amount of $164.5 million against a budget of $160 million.