World-renowned superstar Keanu Reeves, who is best known for his action-oriented roles in Speed, The Matrix trilogy, and more recently in the films 47 Ronin and John Wick, has stepped into the deep waters of a sexual thriller from writer / director Eli Roth, a filmmaker infamous for his hardcore horror films. In the film Knock Knock Reeves plays family man Evan Webber, who is home alone one night when he gets a knock at the door. There waiting for him are two sexy seductresses whom he invites in, and with that one action, he has unleashed the wrath of destiny as the two young women (played by Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) first seduce him and then torture him for accepting their “free pizza.” In this interview, Reeves answers some questions about his role in the film and what he thinks of playing a victim for the first time.
When you were offered this project did you ever have any trepidation about working with Eli Roth, who is known for his graphic, hardcore horror films?
I don’t think I was the first choice for this. But I’m really glad it came my way. When I heard that Eli Roth was interested in me playing a role, I was really excited about it. In terms of the films he’d done in the past, that made it – if anything – more cool. In terms of his art and what he’s doing, I think it’s really interesting and entertaining. I was really interested in reading the script, and it was so fantastic, and then when I heard Eli communicate his vision, I was really excited. Everything that I’d hoped and thought of when I heard him talking about what he wanted had been realized. It doesn’t happen all the time when you go into something and when you go to the screening and you go, “Thank you!” It worked out. It was cool.
Keanu, you’re never the victim in the movies you’ve been in. This was a very rare opportunity for you to be victimized. Talk about that.
Being the victim is fun. It’s a great role. I liked the writing of the piece. The different tones that it has. The comedy, the suspense, the thriller, the seduction. It has all these interesting chapters in it. I really liked the family guy aspect. He’s an architect, everything’s perfect. Or is it? I like how Evan never changes. He’s unapologetic to the very end, even as it all comes crashing down on him. I liked his obstinance, his righteousness. The movie doesn’t have that, the movie is kind of impartial, but he’s put under a magnifying glass, but there are certain ways to look at the project at what is being looked at. It was fun to be an archeologist and dig him up. Eli created a great situation of trust and Lorenza and Ana and I had such love for the material. We rehearsed in the house for a week. We really got to know each other and know our perspectives on the roles. What were the limits and where was the fun … it was a seduction, yes, but what does that look like? It was also a comedy, there was a thriller there and there were some really emotional scenes. It was great to get a chance to get together and flesh the scenes of the project out. It was such great material. I think we all had fun doing that.
How many times did you have to do the “free pizza” rant? It looked like you really went for it.
Yeah, it was a really exciting moment to do that scene. We shot it twice because the first time I guess I wasn’t up for the task. We got to learn from the scene the first time. When I got back to the hotel, I talked to Eli and I said, “Please, can I do this scene again?” There was a long pause on the phone, and being the great person and director that he is, he said, “Okay …” So we shot it again.
Any comment about the two female characters who first seduce and then brutalize you? You’ve never played against characters like these.
The two female characters were really smart. Because we knew the context that they’d done it before, and then the roles that they’d decided to play with each other, what they were designing to represent themselves as, and then how that had nothing to do with who they really were … but it was who they really were because they were choosing to play those roles. The only thing that was really true was that we had that night. It was really smart and funny and emotional.
Keanu, now that you’re a veteran who’s worked with a roster of great actors throughout your career, how was it for you to come into this project and work with two relatively new actresses?
They do have something in common with some of the other actors I’ve worked with. Al Pacino was extraordinary because I looked up to him as an actor, so to get to act with one of your heroes is very special. That being said, working with Pacino has the same thing as working with Ana and Lorenza in that you’re there to tell a story. Everything about who you are, in your craft, and in your creativity goes into that. Jumping into this with them was so great because we all enjoyed each other’s company.