7 Filmmakers Share Their Favorite Keanu Reeves Stories

For three decades now, audiences have been falling in love over and over again with Keanu Reeves. We believe him when he’s saving the world, we believe him when he’s morally ambiguous, and in a few cases, we even believe when he’s the villain. He’s an actor who can transform himself, even when he remains so distinctly, well, Keanu Reeves.

Reeves continues to evolve with the times and only sharpens his skills. What’s not to love about an actor whose movies have blown minds repeatedly as his magnetism and depth deepen with time? Any artist at the stage of Reeves’ career and success who continues growing is doing something right. What has remained from the early days of his acting career is his sincerity and commitment. That sincerity, in particular, is infectious and a part of why audiences and filmmakers remain captivated by him.

With Bill & Ted Face the Music now in theaters and available on VOD, we interviewed directors who’ve worked with Reeves and asked them to share their favorite stories from their collaboration. Here’s what Richard LinklaterChristopher Kenneally, Matthew RossChad Stahelski, Dean Parisot, Francis Lawrence, and Rebecca Miller had to say about their time with the one and only Keanu Reeves.

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Dean Parisot interview

Bill & Ted Face the Music is a very kind-hearted movie. There’s not a single mean-spirited bone in its body. With its unironic heroes, its passion for music, and most importantly, the love between best friends and family, Bill & Ted Face the Music appreciates the best in life.

Whatever obstacles came in the way of the sequel, director Dean Parisot and everyone involved kept going. Parisot, known most famously for the classic Galaxy Quest, delivered a pure sequel with its heart in such the right place. The director, an NYU graduate who won an Oscar for best live-action short film in 1988, told us why he never gave up on Bill & Ted 3 and more.

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Although only 15 years old, Constantine is already aging well. The adaptation of the Hellblazer comic continues to find more fans and doesn’t date in the special effects department like so many early and mid-2000s movies already have. There’s no hard rock, pop culture references, or even outdated tech that could age the movie. Director Francis Lawrence created a world of his own in his noir-ish, sometimes hellish vision of Los Angeles.

When Constantine was released in 2005, it wasn’t as well-regard as it is today. Perhaps after years of watching frequently interchangeable comic book movies, Lawrence’s idiosyncratic addition to the genre plays better today. Whatever the reason, Lawrence is pleased Constantine continues to entertain, especially after a slightly disappointing box-office performance and lukewarm reception from critics.

Before directing Constantine, Lawrence was an in-demand music video director. He helmed music videos for Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and even his I Am Legend star, Will Smith. The list is long. Initially, Keanu Reeves wasn’t interested in a music video director making Constantine, which is one of the many stories Lawrence told us when looking back at his directorial debut (now celebrating its 15th anniversary).

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Constantine is already aging like a fine wine. 15 years after the release of the supernatural action movie, based on the Vertigo comic book series, it’s only grown more beloved among fans. While nostalgia may play a part, the film itself is an artful and character-driven comic book that is unlike most major blockbusters. Constantine is an anomaly. A sequel to the modest hit was talked about for years, but it never came to fruition.

Nonetheless, filmmaker Francis LawrenceKeanu Reeves, and producer Akiva Goldsman still want another crack at the chainsmoking, anti-hero demon fighter.

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The Old Guard director interview

Gina Prince-Bythewood is a director known for authenticity and intimacy. In Beyond the Lights, Love & Basketball, and Disappearing Acts, audiences feel how close she is to her characters, their dreams, and their conflicts. That’s a part of what makes her new Netflix movie, The Old Guard, stand far apart from the typical action movie.

Prince-Bythewood, who’s the first black woman to direct a comic book movie, tells an ensemble story with The Old Guard in which the characters are as fully-realized as the propulsive fight scenes. The Old Guard is what you get when a director knows her characters inside and out. What may very well be the only big action movie we see all summer is a movie driven by character, not setpieces.

Recently, we spoke to Prince-Bythewood about crafting the setpieces, the pains of writing, and how her experiences as an athlete drive her as a filmmaker.

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Female Blumhouse Directors

How much of an introduction does a producer like Jason Blum really need? We all know the name Blumhouse Productions, the production company Blum founded 20 years ago. It was in 2009 the company exploded and discovered a winning formula in modestly budgeted horror movies with low risks and potentially high rewards. Now, Blumhouse is a company whose name attracts as many moviegoers, if not more so, than most name actors. 

The latest Blumhouse Production is You Should Have Left, which is writer-director David Koepp returning to Stir of Echoes territory with his leading man, Kevin Bacon. The story is set almost entirely in a house where Bacon can’t escape the past. Based on a german novella by writer Daniel Kehlmann, it’s a modern spin on “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Recently, we talked to Jason Blum about the atmospheric horror movie, daily operations at Blumhouse, reopening theaters, VOD, and more. 

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Jake Kasdan, once known exclusively as a comedy director, is now playing in the big leagues. With just the right amount of nostalgia and newness, Kasdan turned Jumanji into one of the biggest modern franchises around. While the large scale and effects were initially new to him, he’s now growing comfortable working at that level.

Kasdan made his directorial debut with a sharp ’90s noir with a killer Bill Pullman performance, Zero Effect. It features a Pullman performance deserving of more love in this world. Kasdan followed his directorial debut with Orange CountyThe TV Set, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. During our phone interview with Kasdan, we recently talked about how Walk Hard has changed the biopics forever, how he’s grown as a filmmaker making the Jumanji movies, and the unfortunate state of the world at the moment.

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1917 featurette new

The “hidden man” is how editor Lee Smith sees himself in 1917. Not for a second did Smith want audiences paying attention to his cuts or tricks, but to instead immerse themselves in director Sam Mendes‘ World War I story, which is constructed to take place in one seemingly unbroken take. Despite the obvious technical wizardry and razzle-dazzle, they pulled it off. Audiences were caught up in the feeling and exhilaration of 1917, not the craft of 1917.

The war pic isn’t the first time Smith and Mendes collaborated. The two worked together on Spectre, which involved a long take that gave the editor and filmmaker some ideas of how to accomplish 1917. Outside of Smith’s collaborations with Mendes, he’s edited several Christopher Nolan films, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and an underrated gem from the early 2000s, Buffalo Soldiers.

Recently, Smith spoke to us about his intense work on 1917, a few of the movie’s standout sequences, and doing what hasn’t been done before.

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the lodge trailer

Filmmakers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala know how to let a movie get under an audience’s skin. Even the simplest of their shots, such as Riley Keough scratching her knees, elicit discomfort. They maintain that mood of dread throughout the their newest film, The Lodge, their followup to Goodnight Mommy.

Their latest is a chilly head trip of a horror movie about bottled-up emotions exploding into fear, terror, and mystery. It’s an unsettling experience best seen blind. “This movie lingers long after the credits roll,” Chris Evangelista wrote in his review. “After the conclusion, I stumbled out of the dark theater into the sunlight, disoriented, excited, and, yes, a little scared. As long as more movies are like The Lodge, the horror genre will be in great shape.”

Franz and Fiala met when Fiala was babysitting Franz’s children. The two bonded over horror movies. Years later, that chance encounter has given the world The Lodge. Recently, we spoke to the duo about the horror movie in a mostly spoiler-free conversation about messages, telling a story without heroes and villains, and the Michael Keaton holiday “classic,” Jack Frost.

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Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinnis a movie bursting with personality. It’s poppy and gritty, slapstick-y and visceral, and most striking of all, it doesn’t confine itself to as many boxes or rules as most comic book movies do. It’s a rare comic book movie with an actual sense of freedom and spontaneity. Behind the boisterous vision is filmmaker Cathy Yan.

Before Yan was writing and directing films, she was already sharpening her skills as a storyteller. A graduate from Princetown University and the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Yan was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, based in Beijing, Hong Kong, and New York. She was one of the youngest writers in Wall Street Journal history. After her time as a journalist, she went on to direct more shorts and her feature directorial debut, Dead Pigs, which impressed Birds of Prey‘s star and producer, Margot Robbie.

Recently, we spoke to Yan about the set pieces in the movie, paying homage to Jackie Chan and Orson Welles, and more.

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