Keanu Reeves Talks About Playing Doctor in "Something's Gotta Give"

Something's Gotta Give Photo of Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves in "Something's Gotta Give.". Columbia Pictures

Keanu Reeves falls hard for a more mature woman in the romantic comedy “Something’s Gotta Give,” starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Reeves plays a doctor who helps Nicholson’s character recover while at the same time falling for the woman who’s reluctantly acting as Nicholson’s nurse (Keaton).

KEANU REEVES ('Julian'):

Is it fun making movies that don’t use blue screens?
If you're speaking about going from “The Matrix” to this film, “Something's Gotta Give,” I would speak about it going from kind of a formalism of “The Matrix” to the naturalism of this piece.

For me, trying to do different kinds of roles, it was a wonderful opportunity, really, just to do something different. And of course to work with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, and work with a wonderful, beautiful script directed by Nancy Meyers, it was really for me a dream come true.

Did Nancy Meyers come to you with this project?
I was looking for a job - you laugh, but it's true - and I read the script. It was a beautiful script and then I went in to meet on it, and I auditioned for the role.

You still audition?
Yeah, sure.

Would you say that intimacy is the real issue of this film and that it's a universal theme for men and women?
Yes, I would say that. Some people speak of this film as being age-oriented, but I would say that it's ageless-oriented, personally. I think that it's about taking a risk, opening up and somehow it seems so terrifying to open oneself up to another. I think that we see these two beautiful, brave people in this film, Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, just kind of open up to each other.

We get to enjoy it and see it on screen.

Your character intuitively knows the emotions of this woman. Do you think people have that in real life?
I played a character that I feel had a lot of life experience. Playing a doctor, I think that he's had an objective point of view of people. I think that that informed who he was, and he's a sensitive guy.

I think that if you pay attention to someone that you love, you're going to ‘get’ them.

He has a line [in which] he says, “Isn't it great that I'm not intimidated by your brilliance?” No, it's “How great is it for you that I'm not intimidated by your brilliance?” He gets her, and in that line, he's saying, “I recognize that this must be hard for you, that other people might be intimidated by your brilliance and I see that it's isolating for you.” And he's like, “Baby, you ain't alone because I love how brilliant you are.” So, I think that he is telling her that he gets her.

Do you think age plays a role in relationships?
I think that you're naive if you think that it doesn't, but I think that it doesn't matter at the same time. It's like one of those kinds of interpersonal things. I think that if you're are connecting with someone, it's like, “Don't you know that I'm…” And they're like, “Yeah.”

Are you a hopeless romantic?
I don't know. Am I a hopeless romantic? It's fun to be hopelessly in love. It's dangerous, but it's fun.

Can you talk about Diane Keaton? She said she was scared about your love scene and that you helped her.
She's great. I mean, it's nerve-wracking. Kissing someone is pretty intimate, actually very intimate, and your heart always kind of skips a beat before you do that.

But with my character, it was okay. My character kind of takes her and asks her. He kind of puts his hand on her and says, “Do you want to kiss because it's going to be alright?”

What did you think of how Jack and Diane worked and behaved?
Behaved? “How are you behaving today, Jack?” “'Well, Keanu, however I want.” [Laughter] That was a good lesson to learn. They're both professionally and personally gracious and wonderful people and unique in terms of speaking of differences, I think that I'll speak about what's the same. There's not beating [around the bush]. It's just cutting to the chase. They're consummate professionals, incredibly awesome at what they do and any moment that I got to share with them, I felt lucky to be there because they were just great people and really talented artists.

What about the fallout from “The Matrix” now that it's over?
Fallout? Where's the shelter?

Are you glad it's over? Ewan McGregor was talking about he's glad he did “Star Wars,” but also glad that the eight years of work have come to an end.
How many years? Eight years? Good God, maybe he and I can go to the hotel bar and reminisce about being in trilogies. “Oh my God, can you believe?” “I know, it's mad, isn't it? We're so lucky it's mad.”

Do you think that it was a dangerous thing to go and do a trilogy?
Not at all. I think that they're wonderful films and I'll speak about them until I croak. I loved them. I had a great experience.

PAGE 2: Selecting Roles, More on "The Matrix," and Reeves' Upcoming Movie, "Constantine"

What do you think about the comments that the second and third "Matrix" movies weren't as well received as the first?
They weren't? I disagree, I disagree. I think that they were embraced differently. Sometimes, you have a morning hug, an afternoon hug, or you get a goodnight hug. I think that these films… I mean, if you remember way back when in '99 when the first “Matrix” came out, it took awhile. It was not a critically acclaimed film. It was a kind of underground cult film that became popular. I think that “Reloaded” and “Revolutions” kind of continue on in that tradition. Critically, they were not embraced. When you tend to speak to people who have seen them a couple of times, and later on go, “I saw ‘Reloaded’ again, it's really good,” or not, but my experience has been that if you spend some time with the films, and time goes by, you kind of feel differently. I mean, if you didn't get it or if you didn't feel like you enjoyed it, sometimes that experience can change.

Are you working on “Constantine?”
I am indeed.

Were you committed to that movie a long time ago?
No, I was working in Australia and working on “The Matrix” films and just trying to develop work for afterwards. This script came and [they] worked on the script, and worked with Warner Brothers and some of the execs there, and writers, Akiva Goldsman came on as one of the producers and he's done some writing and it took about a year.

Right now, we're about six weeks in.

It’s based on a comic book?
Yes, it's coming from a comic book series, from a character from Alan Moore. I think that it was introduced in “Swamp Thing.”

What's the take on the character?
His relationship to God. I guess that it's ultimately his relationship to the world.

It's a guy who's got anger and ambivalence. There's a line in it, “God has a plan for all of us, some people like it, some people don't.” That's kind of a Constantinian take on it. Some people like it and John Constantine doesn't like it, but he likes it.

Do you think that it's going to be a commercial film, because that's a dark comic series?
Well, I mean, we have a character. We're hoping to make a PG-13 film. I’m playing a character who's damned and he's trying to escape hell. He goes to Gabriel and he's like, “Come on, I'm taking demons out of little girls. Who's that for?” Gabriel is saying, “Well, you don't believe.” I go, “I believe for Christ sake.” He goes, “No, you know. You don't have faith.”

He's an ex-priest?
I don't know. It depends on what story you’re telling. In this one, he wasn't and after that, he goes and you see my character with scratches on his back and he's drinking some whiskey, and he's just made love to the demon. So, you know, we're trying for PG-13. My feet are on the floor of the bed, he's under the covers.

What do you think are some of the cons about getting involved with another franchise?
I don't know about cons; I don't know about that. I mean, the business side of it and the storytelling side of it, if we're fortunate enough and it all comes together and we make an interesting, enjoyable film, I'll be really happy.

I'm having a really positive experience right now. I'm working with some incredible artists. We have a remarkable DP. I'm working with Francis Lawrence who's very talented, has a fresh vision, [and is] a great storyteller. I'm doing a script with Akiva Goldsman, an Oscar award winner. He's one of the best writers in town. I'm working with Rachel Weisz, Tilda Swinton is acting in it. We've got some incredible set direction and we've got one of the best crews that I've ever worked with. We're telling a righteous story and something that I think is cool about adjusting one's place in the world. And if we're lucky enough to entertain folks and that they dig it and whoever says, “Keanu, do you want to do that again?” We'll see. Whether that turns into a franchise, and lunch boxes, I doubt it, but hopefully, if we can make a good film, I don't know.

How touch is it to come to a decision to make a film as an actor at this point? Do you agonize over it?
Often you have a gut reaction. I have a gut reaction to the material that I'm dealing with. If there's something, like with this, “Something's Gotta Give,” when I read this script, I was like, “This is one of the best scripts that I've ever read, period.” In terms of working with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, there was the role of Dr. Mercer and I was like, “Call someone,” and I got to meet on it. So, the script and the story and the character and your feeling, I guess.

Are you often in the position of looking for work, or are the scripts piled up for you?
You're always looking for good material. I mean, I love acting. Look at Jack Nicholson. He's sixty-six years old, I think, and he's making movies. He's doing his thing. Does Jack Nicholson have to go and make a movie? That's what we do. I guess that's our life.