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Why Keanu Reeves Was Thrown In ‘Movie Jail’ For Rejecting A Role

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Keanu Reeves

In the ’90s, Keanu Reeves was one of the hottest stars in Hollywood. From Bill and Ted to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, he was nearly untouchable. During this time, Reeves got himself in hot water after rejecting a role. This decision nearly wrecked his entire career.

The Need For Speed

In 1994, Reeves starred in Speed, which was one of the decade’s biggest action films. The movie earned two Oscars for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing. For Reeves, the actor walked away with praise and some more action opportunities. He would continue his action film run with 1995’s Johnny Mnemonic and 1996’s Chain Reaction. Unfortunately, neither film got the same level of love as Speed. Both films, however, managed to make a few extra dollars for their respective studios.

Following promotional work for Chain Reaction, Reeves was confronted about Speed 2: Cruise Control. 20th Century Fox and director Jan de Bont wanted him back as Jack Traven. The studio was willing to give him $11 million to reprise the role. In a surprise to everyone, Reeves turned down the role. Actor Jason Patric landed the co-starring role alongside Sandra Bullock as Officer Alex Shaw. Without the duo of Reeves and Bullock, Speed 2 was a commercial disaster at the box office. With $164 million earned, the studio had no chance to break even.

Being Put In The Doghouse

Why would Reeves turn down that huge amount of cash? In an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he admitted that he wasn’t a fan of the script. “I loved working with Jan de Bont and Sandra, of course. It was just a situation in life where I got the script and I read the script and I was like ‘ugggghhh.’ It was about a cruise ship and I was thinking, ‘A bus, a cruise ship… Speed, bus, but then a cruise ship is even slower than a bus and I was like, ‘I love you guys but I just can’t do it,” he said on the show. Instead of being on a cruise ship, Reeves decided to play Hamlet in a stage production in Winnipeg.

20th Century Fox wasn’t pleased with Reeves turning down the role. In their minds, he was the sole reason for the film tanking. In an interview with GQ, Reeves said the studio put him in movie jail. “I didn’t work with [Fox] again until ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ [in 2008],” he told the publication. While being blacklisted, Fox unveiled major box office hits, including X-Men and the Star Wars prequel trilogy. There’s no word if Reeves was being looked at for these films. With his box office status, however, there’s no doubt he would’ve been a top choice.

Wick For President

Fortunately, Reeves reclaimed his status of box office king with The Matrix trilogy. The three movies earned a combined $1.6 billion at the box office. Since then, Reeves relationship with 20th Century Fox has been a tricky one. Despite the negative reviews, The Day the Earth Stood Still earned over $233 million worldwide.

He hasn’t done another film with the studio since, but he’s a bit busy with John Wick. The franchise, which debuted in 2014, has earned $571 million worldwide. The John Wick train will keep rolling with 2021’s John Wick 4 and the TV series The Continental. 2019 has been a banner year for Reeves with further appearances in Toy Story 4 and Always Be My Maybe. We also can’t forget about his “breathtaking” appearance at E3. In the end, Reeves is living proof that talent can always overthrow a studio’s questionable behavior.

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