Reeves Chose Art Over Money in the Case of Speed Sequel.
Despite the popularity and success of “Speed,” Reeves surprised everyone by turning down a massive $12 million offer for its sequel, “Speed 2: Cruise Control.”
Released in 1994, “Speed” was a high-concept action film that put Reeves on the map as a credible action star.
Playing the role of LAPD SWAT officer Jack Traven, Reeves’ character had to keep a city bus above 50 mph to prevent a bomb on it from exploding.
The film was a commercial success and critically acclaimed for its non-stop, adrenaline-pumping action.
Due to the movie’s success, the producers were eager to cash in on a sequel. Reeves was offered $12 million, a significant bump up from his $1.2 million paycheck for the first film, to reprise his role as Jack Traven.
To put this into perspective, this amount was a fortune, especially considering that it was offered in the late 90s.
Why Did Keanu Turn Down the Offer?
Despite the huge paycheck, Reeves decided to turn down the offer, shocking many in the industry. He reportedly wasn’t impressed with the sequel’s script.
Instead of a bus, the sequel revolved around a cruise ship, which Reeves thought lacked the intensity of the original movie’s concept.
He believed that doing projects that he wasn’t genuinely interested in could lead to lackluster performances, hurting his career in the long run. Thus, despite the huge sum on offer, he chose to walk away.
Reeves’ decision was vindicated when “Speed 2: Cruise Control” was critically panned upon its release, with some even calling it one of the worst sequels ever.
Meanwhile, Reeves went on to star in “The Matrix,” which became a cultural phenomenon and firmly established him as one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood.