Keanu Reeves has played the ultimate hero in movies like The Matrix, John Wick and Speed. He’s swept women off their feet in movies like A Walk in the Clouds, Sweet November, and The Lake House. He can do comedy, too. So, for everybody who loves Reeves, has he ever played a bad guy?
[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for movies in which Reeves plays villains.]
Yes, there are a few movies in which Reeves played the bad guy. Here are some movies you can watch if you want to see a darker side of Reeves.
Keanu Reeves did not want to play this bad guy
The Watcher cast Reeves as a serial killer. David Allen Griffin (Reeves) watches his victims to learn their routine, so he can perpetrate the perfect murder.
This movie was a bad experience for Reeves. He told the Calgary Sun (via Variety) that a friend forged his signature on the contract. Furthermore, with Reeves working for scale as a sort of forced favor, costars James Spader and Marisa Tomei got paid full salaries. Despite his hardships, Reeves still delivers a menacing performance as the killer.
‘The Gift’ character was a bad guy, but not the killer
Reeves is not the killer in The Gift, but he’s a bad guy nonetheless. The 2000 supernatural thriller (not to be confused with the 2015 Jason Bateman movie) stars Cate Blanchett as a psychic with “the gift” that she considers more of a curse. Police hope she can use her gift to find a missing girl (Katie Holmes).
There are many suspects, and Donnie Barksdale (Reeves) certainly appears to be one of them. He is the abusive husband to Valerie (Hilary Swank). It would be too easy if he turned out to be the killer, but Reeves is relentless showing the violence a man like Donnie is capable of.
Keanu Reeves vs. the ‘Man of Tai Chi’
Reeves played the villain of his own martial arts movie. He wanted to make an action vehicle for a Matrix stuntman Tiger Chen. So he directed Man of Tai Chi, and played the big boss Chen had to fight in the end.
This is certainly the most fun villain Reeves has played. Donaka Mark (Reeves) basically kidnaps Tiger (Chen) to compete in his fight tournament. Mark freaks out when it appears he underestimated Tiger’s full abilities. Reeves hams it up magnificently and screams, but when he faces Tiger himself at the end, he brings all his own Matrix skill to the fight.
Keanu Reeves doth playeth a Shakespearean villain
Reeves played Don John in Kenneth Branagh’s movie of Much Ado About Nothing. If you know Shakespeare, you know he is the villain of the play.
Don John is Don Pedro (Denzel Washington)’s half-brother. His whole plot is to stop the wedding of Hero (Kate Beckinsale) and Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard). Fortunately, Much Ado is one of Shakespeare’s comedies, so everything works out after all the shenanigans.
Reeves is not the lead character in these films so would not qualify as the main villain. However, he still plays nefarious characters.
In The Neon Demon, he plays a seedy motel owner who sexually harasses aspiring model Jesse (Elle Fanning). You might consider his cameo in Always Be My Maybe a villain too, but a hilarious one.