‘Speed’ Turns 25: What You Didn’t Know About the Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock Blockbuster
Who can forget Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock barreling down the streets of Los Angeles in a city bus with a bomb about to go off? Released in June of 1994, Speed grossed over $121 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.
Celebrating 25 years since its release, the film remains an edge-of-your-seat classic. Here are some not-so-well-known facts about the famous blockbuster that may have impacted its popularity.
Keanu Reeves wasn’t the first choice
According to Screenrant, Stephen Baldwin was offered the role of Jack Traven but rejected it saying the character was too much like Die Hard’s John McClane.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter Graham Yost talked about narrowing down the list of potential male leads. “We went to the Toms first — you know, you go to Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks — and I think Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, who were going to do Money Train. We went down many different avenues,” Yost said. “The way I recall it, someone’s kid at the studio said, ‘What about Keanu Reeves? He’s hot.’ And we all looked at each other and said, ‘Well, Bill & Ted?’ And then we said, ‘Well, wait a second, he was great in Parenthood, let’s meet him.’” Director Jan de Bont made the decision to cast Reeves after seeing him in Point Break, according to AMC.
The unknown Bullock wasn’t top pick either
Halle Berry and comedian/talk show host Ellen DeGeneres were both considered to play the spunky Annie Porter before Bullock, then an unknown, was cast as noted by Moviefone. Yost was specifically pulling for DeGeneres. “She’d done little bits in movies and sitcoms, and she was funny,” Yost told Entertainment Weekly, “and I wanted someone who was funny.” Thankfully, Bullock fit the bill in spades.
Everyone loved the guy in the Jag
Glenn Plummer, who played the infamous owner of the Jaguar that Jack has to overtake, turned out to be such a fan favorite that he was brought back for the sequel, as noted by AMC.
Guess he was too busy with ‘Pulp Fiction’
Moviefone reported that Quentin Tarantino was one of the directors approached to work on the film but turned it down.
No, not Harry!
According to Mental Floss, Yost wanted a twist and considered making Jeff Daniels’ character Harry the bad guy, but later realized it wouldn’t be believable. “I thought it would be interesting if there’s a lot of contact between Harry and Jack and then you find out that Harry’s involved with this whole thing,” Yost told Entertainment Weekly. “But man, it takes so much work to make that believable and to make it not feel like just a big switch for the sake of a switch.”
The script got an eleventh-hour overhaul
Though Graham Yost was credited for the script, Joss Whedon worked his magic in a major last-minute rewrite, though he goes unmentioned in the credits. Whedon created the dialogue focusing on making Jack Traven’s lines a better fit for Reeves, Moviefone reported, including the classic line ‘Pop quiz, hotshot!’
Who can forget the jump scene?
In the infamous bus-jump scene, one of the buses they tested out landed on a row of cameras on the first try, Mental Floss reported. Another bus used went over 100 feet in the air and 20 feet off the ground, blowing out the tires and destroying the suspension.
Reeves proved to be daring, where AMC reported that he was actually tethered to the bottom of the bus for a scene. Bullock had to learn how to drive a bus for the film and passed the test on her first try.
Bring on the buzz cut
Director de Bont made Reeves cut his long hair, according to Mental Floss. “I didn’t want people to think of Bill and Ted any more. I want them to think of Keanu as an adult actor now,” said de Bont.
The idea started with Akira Kurosawa
The screenplay Runaway Train, written by renowned director Akira Kurosawa, inspired Yost to write Speed, Moviefone reported.
Even 25 years later, Speed remains a fan favorite!