Keanu Reeves is considered one of the most exceptional actors of all time with some of the best and most killer roles up his resume. Starring in films like The Matrix and the John Wick movie series, the actor has not only become one of the biggest hotshots and most beloved heartthrobs in Hollywood, but he has also established a perfectly fine reputation for himself through his incredible personality. Yet, despite his exceptional popularity, he failed to bag one major role in a super hit film.
The movie in talk here is one of Natalie Portman’s best films to date: Léon: The Professional. As it turns out, Keanu Reeves was awfully interested in taking up the lead role of Léon, however, due to the director’s unfair bias, he ended up missing out on the role of a lifetime.
Keanu Reeves Was Very Interested In Playing Léon In Léon: The Professional
Although the 1994 blockbuster Léon: The Professional was a super hit among fans and is still widely loved just the way it is with the most perfect cast and breathtaking action sequences, there was a time when more than one person wanted to play the lead character of Léon.
This included the Neo portrayer, Keanu Reeves. Not only was he extremely interested in the role but he was also attached to the role of the hitman at numerous stages of pre-production that included the audition and casting process.
However, the director of the film, Luc Besson was rather biased with his casting choices. As revealed by the filmmaker himself, the role of Léon was intended to be played by actor Jean Reno right from the beginning.
But wait, there’s a justification behind this biasedness as well. This is because Reno was also a French actor, just like the requirement for the role–unlike Reeves.
Furthermore, since the story was more or less based on Besson’s life, the fact that Jean Reno was a French further proved to be credible from the filmmaker’s point of view, thus his biasedness toward the actor as well as the character.
Léon: The Professional Could’ve Perfectly Shaped Keanu Reeves’ Career
Even though Keanu Reeves was turned down for the role of Léon in the 1994 masterpiece Léon: The Professional, the movie still would have helped immensely in perfectly shaping the Point Break star’s career.
Directed by Luc Besson, the film shared the story of a 12-year-old girl named Mathilda (played by Natalie Portman), who is unwillingly taken in by Léon (played by Jean Reno) after her family is brutally murdered.
Since Léon is a professional assassin, Mathilda gets to learn his trade while being his protégée, all the while developing an unusual relationship between them as the story moves forward.
At the time when this blockbuster was getting ready to be shot, even though Keanu Reeves was already famous having appeared in the science fiction comedy, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) and Point Break (1991), the part of Léon would have given him the perfect edge and boost that he needed for his career.
However, the role of a lifetime in the film that earned critical acclamation along with numerous accolades and nominations, left his hands and he couldn’t do anything about it. Nonetheless, a few years in, he bagged the role of Neo in The Matrix in 1999, and the rest was history.