Keanu Reeves isn’t exactly a versatile actor. There are only certain types of roles and genres that he can convincingly pull off. He plays stoic and introspective pretty well. What he doesn’t do so well are foreigners in period settings. For example, Keanu as Englishman Jonathan Harker in the Francis Ford Coppola version of “Bram’s Stoker’s Dracula”. Painful.
So when it was announced that he would take on the legendary Japanese story of the “47 Ronin”, skepticism reigned. Still, the man HAS grown as an actor in the last decade. While he’s no Oscar-winner, there’s a certain gravity and truthfulness to his performances now. “47 Ronin” is one of the most well-known historical episodes in Japan, where a bunch of Samurai went on a rampage of revenge after their master Lord Asano was forced by the corrupt Shogun to commit ritual suicide. It’s a tale of honour and loyalty, which is what drew Reeves to the project. Directed by TV commercials veteran Carl Rinsch, the film will have Reeves as a half-breed outcast who joins the troupe of masterless Samurai. So that’s the explanation for having a gaijin in a movie like this. Reeves is half-Chinese.
MTV News briefly caught up with Reeves earlier this week to discuss his upcoming project, which is set to begin filming later this year.
MTV News: I have a feeling this is something you’ve been wanting to do for a while.
Keanu Reeves: Yeah, Samurai, man! Absolutely. Just finished a swordfight. A couple of weeks ago with a great actor named Hiroyuki Sanada. And he’s fantastic.
MTVN: So what’s unique about this?
KR: Well, it’s in 3D, it’s kind of a Western, it’s a story of revenge and impossible love. These Samurai, their lord is usurped, and has to commit seppuku. The Samurai become Ronin, getting outcast and then they decide to enact revenge on the person they feel is responsible for the death of their lord. And I play an outsider, but with a mysterious past.
MTVN: They always do.
KR: Yeah… he’s got a mysterious past, and he’s named Kai. Who’s in love with the princess, Lady Asano, and she’s in love with me. But we can’t be together because I’m marginalised. But during the course of the events, this kind of journey of revenge, things change.