Plenty of actors in Hollywood end up getting typecast. They’ll get the same kind of roles over and over again until audiences can’t really picture them doing any other type of work. This can be a struggle for actors who want to stretch their wings or who simply age out of their typical role.
Some actors are able to break out of the mold with some surprising parts that make the audience see them with new eyes. Generally speaking, tying one’s image too tightly to a specific kind of project is best avoided in the acting world.
For Keanu Reeves, though, there’s an appeal in a particular kind of futuristic role that he not only likes getting chosen to portray — he actively seeks out the projects.
Keanu Reeves has a long film career
These days, Reeves is best known for his sterling reputation as one of the nicest actors in Hollywood as well as for his long filmography that includes a wide range of films. After 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure proved to be a breakthrough role, it looked like Reeves might get typecast as an aloof and clueless stoner, a character type he reprised in Parenthood and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
It didn’t take long for Reeves to demonstrate that he had more talents to share with the world, however. A part in 1992’s horror Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a steep departure from lighthearted comedy, and he followed it up with 1993’s Much Ado About Nothing, showing he was up for a romance as well.
One of his best-known parts has been playing Jack Travern in the action-packed Speed, but A Walk in the Clouds — which was released around the same time — was a gentle tear-jerking romance that kept him from getting too tightly linked with the action genre.
Futuristic thrillers have become a staple for Keanu Reeves
Clearly, Reeves has demonstrated himself to be a versatile actor who can step into roles across genres, but there is one kind of film in which he appears more often than others.
Starting with 1999’s The Matrix, Reeves has become a common feature in futuristic thrillers. The role of Neo has become an iconic part of the sci-fi genre, and Reeves tackled the part multiple times for other films in the series including The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
Since then, Reeves has appeared in many similarly-themed films. A Scanner Darkly features Reeves losing his identity to a new drug in a near-future reality. The Day the Earth Stood Still is a remake of a 1951 classic that features aliens arriving in New York City.
With yet another Matrix film in the works and his starring role in the video game Cyberpunk 2077, it’s clear that this is a genre that continues to draw Reeves in.
Keanu Reeves is drawn to futuristic roles
Reeves’ repeated appearance in futuristic films is no accident — the star seeks out the opportunities. As Cinema Blend reports, Reeves is interested in the roles because they allow him to explore his own curiosities about the future.
Reeves attributes this fascination with his steady diet of sci-fi material: “Yeah, I’m curious about the future and I think growing up on William Gibson and Neuromancer, and reading Philip K. Dick, even Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Watching Road Warriors, Mad Max, Bladerunner. Even Planet of the Apes. Reading Lord of the Rings. Exploration of fantasy, science fiction. I dunno, I just feel the motifs that occur in this kind of storytelling is oftentimes examining the world that we live in.”
Reeves finds the work fulfilling and explains that “there was something aspirational or supportive in participating in these stories that gave me escapism, but also helped me define my world view and interpret the world.”