Actor Keanu Reeves is one of the most well-known action stars working in the industry right now. He is known as the star of high-octane action franchises such as The Matrix, Speed, and of course, John Wick. His athletic abilities and the enthusiasm to perform many of his own stunts have made him a bonafide action star.
However, back in the 90s, Reeves was not the action legend we know today. In fact, many studio executives could not imagine him pulling off an action film as his only success till then was the quirky sci-fi comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It all changed when he was cast as Johnny Utah in the action-heist film Point Break, and he owes it all to the film’s director Katheryn Bigelow.
Making Of Point Break
The Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze starring action film Point Break is now considered a cult classic. It was one of the defining pop culture media of the 1990s. The plot of an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a gang of surfers, who moonlight as robbers also served as an inspiration for the Fast and Furious series, which began with Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner infiltrating a gang of street racers who moonlight as gangsters.
The film became a jumping-off point for actor Keanu Reeves as he was only known for the quirky Bill & Ted franchise till then. In fact, the first choice of the studio was not Reeves. Point Break was first developed with Ridley Scott attached as director. Scott had cast Mathew Broderick and Charlie Sheen as the main leads in the film. At one point, Johnny Depp was also approached to be part of the project. However, this iteration of the film never took off.
After four years, the studio approached Katheryn Bigelow to direct the film. She was fresh off of the Jamie Lee Curtis starrer Blue Steel. Bigelow is credited with subverting the traditionally masculine action film genre with films such as Blue Steel and Point Break. The latter has been lauded for the presence of the female gaze in a mainstream action film.
Bigelow worked on the film with her then-husband director James Cameron and cast Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves in the lead roles. The heist film was a moderate success at the box office, earning over $103 million globally against a $23 million budget.
Katheryn Bigelow Had To Fight To Cast Keanu Reeves In The Film
While it is impossible to see Keanu Reeves as anything but a bonafide action star, it took a lot of convincing for the Point Break producers to see it that way. When director Katheryn Bigelow onboarded the project, she had to fight an uphill battle to get the executives to do her bidding. Her only choice for the role of the protagonist Johnny Utah was Keanu Reeves.
However, the executives were not convinced that Reeves would be able to pull off the action-heavy role as he was known for his comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. In an interview with Premiere, James Cameron mentioned that,
“We had this meeting where the Fox executives were going, ‘Keanu Reeves in an action film? Based on what? ‘Bill & Ted’?’ They were being so insulting. But she insisted he could be an action star.”
However, director Bigelow stood her ground and convinced the executives that Reeves was the man for the part. She made sure that Keanu Reeves was properly trained to look the part and according to Cameron, even chose his wardrobe for the film.
Later, Katheryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker. After the cult film, Reeves went on to star in the action film Speed and became the face of two action franchises namely The Matrix and John Wick.