Why remake a sci-fi classic like The Day the Earth Stood Still? We asked Keanu Reeves about that when we recently sat down with him for an interview. The star also talked about working with the young Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, on the Day remake.
RC: What I love about this character is he doesn't have a lot to say. When he does speak, it's very important. But I really felt that you were in observation mode a lot of the time. Did it feel like that?
Reeves: Did I have a lot to say? Well, I spoke when it was time to speak and the character is...here to judge the worth of the human species. He's kind of a executioner, as well. So that put me in that objective perspective. He's here to evaluate.
RC: There are a lot of subtleties you get to play off of, and evolve the character in that way, especially with Jennifer Connelly.
Reeves: Yeah, [her role carries] the heart and soul of the picture. Her relationship with my character is -- she supports me, she helps free me from captivity. But when she learns what I'm here to do, she's trying to change my mind. And she's a good example. It's the best of humanity.
RC: The original is considered a classic in the sci-fi genre. What fears did you have going into this, knowing it has that kind of regard?
Reeves: I came to the director, Scott Derrickson, like why do you want to do this? Why remake a classic? And he said, "Yes, it is a classic, but I think we can take that premise, that story, and retell it today."
RC: Kind of a timeless story...
Reeves: Yes, in terms of the contrast of the plot, absolutely. He had a real specific idea of that, and I came onboard.
RC: And your manager suggested this to you years earlier.
Reeves: Yeah, over a decade ago.
RC: Do you think this would have been something 10 years ago that would have played like it does today?
Reeves: No. I would have been too young for the role.
RC: So that worked out for you, in that regards?
Reeves: Yeah, it's just things take time to develop sometimes, like a good wine.
RC: You've made some big movies, and this one is certainly large scale. Watching it, did it consistently surprise you to see how the effects and all of that evolve?
Reeves: In terms of what?
RC: I mean, seeing these orbs that are incredible and all that kind of stuff.
Reeves: Well, that's fun. I think as well as being a film that has intimate human stories in it, it does have spectacle and it does have some goodies and some treats to look at, which is great to be able to combine the two.
RC: Working with a young actor like Jaden -- I thought his mom was in the Matrix movies. Had you met him at that time? Was he ever on set?
Reeves: Yeah, he came by a couple of times. Yeah, he was a little shorter, a little younger.
RC: He hadn't started acting, yet?
Reeves: No, he hadn't.
RC: And you haven't really worked with many child actors, have you?
Reeves: No, I've done a few films with some kids -- Hardball, Sweet November, what else do we got? I'll start with those two.
RC: It's always a different challenge with kids, isn't it?
Reeves: Well, you know, working with grown-ups, sometimes that can be as challenging. Grown-up children are worse. He was very professional. It's his second film. He takes his work seriously. He had a challenging role, and he met those challenges, and he's a good kid -- so he was good to work with.