If I were to tell you about an actor who has worked consistently in major Hollywood movies for over two decades, has often worked with Academy-Award winning writers, actors and directors, and who has a legion of fans that follow him in all his movies, no matter the genre or story, what would your immediate reaction to this person be? Would you think “Wow, this guy must be great. Twenty years of studio movies, he must be talented.” Based solely on the description of the actor written above, with no names attached, would you ever in your right mind assume that the person was bad at his craft; that he sucked? Chances are you wouldn’t. And yet, if after giving you that description, I told you the actor was Keanu Reeves, I bet I know what your reaction would be. “He sucks!”
I just don’t get it. In every interview he gives, he comes across as an insightful, cerebral, well-rounded person who doesn’t mire himself in the vagaries of stardom and never asks for more than he needs. His co-stars glow about him, and quality directors line up to put him in their movies. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, he is plagued by this notion that he is dumb. And that he is untalented. And I just don’t get it.
How can he suck if he’s still making big movies twenty years into his career? The majority of his early peers are gone and forgotten; actors like Christian Slater, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, et al, and yet here he is coming out with a huge new movie this Friday (The Lake House). He has survived critical drubbings more severe than he deserves. He has been heckled and flamed and deplored because he has good looks, but a vacant affectation. He is perceived as a flat actor, devoid of charisma, empty of emotional depth. And yet, he’s still here making big movies. So you explain it to me.
I have been a fan of Keanu since his Bill & Ted days. I have defended my love for the man who would be Neo to every one of my friends and family. I have gotten into screaming matches with people I barely know, just because I heard them bash the man. And I have never lost an argument about him, because no one can prove that he isn’t a gifted, talented performer. They lose, because I can prove that he is.