Hollywood producers confirmed today that Keanu Reeves’ next blockbuster will be the first to feature a specialist who will stand in for the A-lister in sequences deemed too ambitious for an actor of his talent. Universal Pictures has reassured fans that the star will perform his usual repertoire of running, fighting and monosyllabic grunts, but with a lookalike being brought in for scenes requiring his character to display emotion or intellectual depth.
‘There’s no doubt Keanu really set the benchmark with his portrayal of Ted in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – he did all his own acting, you know,’ said producer Kit Maloney. ‘But I think people fell into a trap of thinking that if he could do that, he could do anything. Keanu’s received acclaim for his stunt work and innate ability to be manipulated by special effects, but there are some things best left to the trained professionals, like dialogue, humour and pathos. We’d hate to see his reputation get badly injured, or worse.’
Despite excitement about the use of an acting double for Reeves, not least among cinemagoers, some in the industry have seen the move as an implicit criticism of the star, but his agent disagrees. ‘Sure, these guys can do happy, sad, betrayed, all at the drop of a hat,’ he said, ‘but you ask them to drive a bus at 50 to stop a nutcase blowing it up, or play Hong Kong Phooey with some suits inside a computer game, and they’ll come up short every time. Keanu understands that there are certain things you’ve got to leave to the pros. When I talked to him about it he took it in his stride, in fact he barely reacted.’
This is not the first time the use of doubles in Hollywood has attracted controversy. David Hasselhoff recently misunderstood instructions about using a body double in a forthcoming remake of Baywatch and turned up on set with a body double its former size, and Tom Cruise has insisted on using a double for his next role so he can interact with his co-stars at eye level when he’s sat on his lookalike’s shoulders.