Keanu Reeves starred alongside notable actor Jeff Daniels back in 1994 in one of the most iconic movies of all time, Speed. The movie features Reeves as Jack Traven and Jeff Daniels as his buddy Harry who meets an unfortunate ending during the film.
Well, when the role was initially offered to Daniels, the actor outright refused to play the part. Even though he desperately needed the job at that time, Jeff Daniels stated that he would not take up the role just to die so early on in the film.
Keanu Reeves’ Co-star Jeff Daniels Wanted Screen Time
Jeff Daniels found fame by starring in movies like Dumb and Dumber and managed to stay relevant with The Martian and many others. But back in 1994, the actor was quite desperate to get his hands on any project that he would be offered and then he heard about Keanu Reeves’ starrer Speed.
In an interview, the actor talked about how desperate he was when Speed was offered to him. Portraying the role of Harry in the movie, Jeff Daniels was disappointed when his character met his fate on page 22 of the script. Although being desperate, Daniels refused to lend his talent for such a small role.
“Speed was, ‘Get me a job.’ That’s what Speed was. [My agent] said, ‘Well, we’ve got this script Speed, we’ll send it to you, but you’re dead on page 22. You and Keanu go into this 50-story building and you get in the elevator shaft and fall and die.'”
The actor further continued,
“I said, ‘Well, the career’s in trouble but it’s not in that much trouble, so I’m going to pass.’ And then they said, ‘Hang on, there’s a new draft coming, you die later.’ I said, ‘How much later?’ He goes, ‘About page 88.’ ‘I’m in.’ I did it and lasted all the way until I crawled in through that window into that house and the house blew up. I was lucky they did another draft.”
Well, from dying in an elevator shaft to dying in an explosive-filled house, Jeff Daniels indeed made some progress as his character was indeed quite noticeable in the 1994 movie. The movie was also saved by Keanu Reeves whose one suggestion changed Joss Whedon’s take on his character.
Keanu Reeves Saved Speed With By Talking To Joss Whedon
Although Joss Whedon is known for directing The Avengers back in 2012, he was also called in to enhance dialogues although uncredited. In an interview, Whedon talked about how Keanu Reeves’ one statement helped him understand the character of Jack Traven better and he improved upon the dialogue.
“[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,”
Whedon further continued,
“He wasn’t a hot shot [but] a lateral thinker [who] 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,”
In the end, Jeff Daniels got his extended screen time and Hollywood came to know Keanu Reeves as a gentleman. The 1994 movie received a rating of 7.3/10 on IMDB and 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Speed is available to stream on AMC+ in the U.S.
Source: Entertainment Weekly