Keanu Reeves saved the script for Speed with a simple suggestion, demonstrating that there is nothing he cannot accomplish.
In the 1994 action film, the Hollywood legend played SWAT bomb disposal specialist Jack Tavern with Sandra Bullock as Annie Porter.
Jan de Bont directed the movie, which showed Jack striving to keep a bus moving over 50 miles per hour in order to avoid a bomb detonating, with Joss Whedon called in to assist refine the script.
In a new chat with the Hollywood Reporter, Joss revealed that Keanu helped him understand his character better with one small nugget he got from his own research, which completely unlocked the dialogue.
‘[Reeves] talked about [doing research for the role by hanging out] with the SWAT guys and how they were unfailingly polite,’ he told the outlet. ‘[He said that] they’re only about defusing the situation, they call everybody “sir or ‘ma’am”. It was like “click” – that was it. I understand this character now.
‘My take on it was: He wasn’t a hot shot, he was a lateral thinker. He was going to do what felt right and have an odd approach to it, but generally speaking, it would work out. That “sir or ma’am” gave me so much, because bluster [in action movie heroes] was the order of the day and this was the opposite.’
Joss recalled another alteration Keanu suggested that was eventually included in the final edit.
He added: ‘He also said, “I don’t want to pull my gun.” And I was like, “I don’t want you to either, but you kind of have to. … [The studio is] not going to let you not pull your gun.”’
Well, he tried…
Speed went on to be a major success, and the sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control, was released in 1997.
Although Sandra resumed her role as Annie, Keanu declined to return, and instead Jason Patric was put into the screenplay.
During a visit on the Graham Norton Show in 2021, the John Wick star discussed why he left the film.
‘At the time I didn’t respond to the script,’ he told the host. ‘I really wanted to work with Sandra Bullock, I loved playing Jack Traven, and I loved Speed, but an ocean liner?
‘I had nothing against the artists involved, but at that time I had the feeling it just wasn’t right.’
Source My Celebrity Life.