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Before John Wick, Keanu Reeves Didn’t Pay Heed to Director’s Request to Risk Own Life for Scary Stunt in $350M Movie to Match Tom Cruise

Before John Wick, Keanu Reeves Didn’t Pay Heed to Director’s Request to Risk Own Life for Scary Stunt in $350M Movie to Match Tom Cruise

Audiences are frequently on the edge of their seats when watching daring acts in Hollywood action movies. Tom Cruise is the epitome of the celebrated tradition of actors performing their own stunts. Here comes Keanu Reeves, the fearless star who refused the director’s request to risk his life for performing a daring stunt in the 1994 Jan de Bont’s Speed

Cruise and Reeves are both seasoned actors who specialize in classic action thrillers. The latter has gone above and beyond with movies like Speed, The Matrix series, and the John Wick franchise to make sure that audiences are treated to thrilling and realistic visuals by performing his own stunts in most of them.

However, the star found one particular scene from his classic movie Speed to be a very challenging task.

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves

Related: “I didn’t want to do that”: The Matrix Director Revealed Why She Didn’t Return for $159M Keanu Reeves Sequel With Her Own Sister After a Tragic Experience

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Keanu Reeves Did Perform Many Of His Stunts

From The Matrix to his work in the John Wick movies, Keanu Reeves is now recognizable for his dedication to pulling off as many stunts as he can. However, the situation was very different in 1994 when he played Officer Jack Traven in Speed. Many of the hair-raising stunts were carried out by the Canadian actor himself. 

Reeves became more at ease with the stunt work as Speed was being shot, despite director Jan de Bont forbidding him from trying one of the really risky stunts. Jack’s leap from a speeding Jaguar onto the bus was one of the prohibited stunts.

Keanu Reeves as Jack Traven in Speed
Keanu Reeves as Jack Traven in Speed

However, Reeves was unfazed and practiced the stunt in secret, so that when it came time to film the scene, he could pull it off himself. Jan de Bont told The Huffington Post in 2014: 


“I  feel like my whole idea for [‘Speed’] was to be with the characters as much as possible, to let the actors do as much as the stunts themselves.”

De Bont believed that although “stunt doubles and covers” served a purpose, they also distracted viewers. A sense of continuity was felt

“More realistic, but also, you can understand why the actor or the character reacts in a certain way … unlike when they anticipate something on a green screen.”

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in Speed (1994)
Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in Speed (1994)

Reeves did actually end up pulling off a lot of his own stunts with his director’s encouragement; one instance was when his character Jack boarded the bus from a moving car. De Bont recalled (via The Huffington Post): 

“He [Keanu Reeves] said, ‘It’s way too dangerous’ and I told him it was basically like stepping onto an escalator. You just move up!”

Suggested: “It’s something in your gut”: John Wick Producer Reveals ‘The Continental’ Spin-Off is a Hail Mary as No One Believed Franchise Would Work Without Keanu Reeves

Why Speed Was the Best Action Film of the 1990s?

Who could ever forget Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves racing through the busy streets in a city bus carrying a ticking bomb? The movie was a critical and financial success, earning $350.4 million worldwide on a $30–37 million budget, ranking as the fifth-highest-grossing movie of 1994. Keanu Reeves’ status as an action hero was also cemented by the movie. 

The 59-year-old actor was initially hesitant to admit that he performed his own stunt work, but he did recall them clearly to The Huffington Post:

“The shot in the film is a stunt man [sic], but I got to do it once. I tried to do as much as I could.” 

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in Speed
Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in Speed

Reeves, who debuted as an actor in the Canadian television series Hangin In, further added:

“The stunt coordinator Gary Hymes really took care of me and came up with inventive ways of putting me in those situations. Through harnessing he got me under the bus at 30 mph.”

Furthermore, the actor described a feeling of “vulnerability and openness” while working with Sandra Bullock:

“We would both look at each other every once in a while and go, ‘This is crazy, but, let’s play it for real.’ It was intense and fun. But between all of the actors and actresses on the bus there was a sense of community.”

Well, three years later, a follow-up, titled Speed 2: Cruise Control, was released to largely unfavorable reviews from critics who criticized the acting, story, characters, and Reeves’ absence.  

Keanu Reeves in a still from John Wick: Chapter 4
Keanu Reeves in a still from John Wick: Chapter 4

Reeves was last seen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which received favorable reviews from critics and amassed over $432 million in worldwide box office revenue to become the franchise’s highest-grossing movie. A fifth movie is currently in development, and a spin-off called Ballerina will be released on June 7, 2024.


Meanwhile, you can rent Speed on Apple TV.

Also read: “He had another world happen to him”: Keanu Reeves Is Still Jealous Of Johnny Depp For His One Feature After Inadvertently Changing His Acting Career For Good

Source- The Huffington Post

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Written by Siddhika

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 800 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.