Keanu is the new comedy-action film from Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele in which the pair embark on an epic journey to save their pet cat, Keanu. With the film hitting theaters this weekend, a major easter egg has been revealed. Turns out filmmakers actually enlisted the services of another famous Keanu to voice Hollywood’s favorite new kitty, and that Keanu would be none other than Keanu Reeves.
As director Pete Atencio explains in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, Keanu the cat was in fact named after Keanu the actor, but his team were hesitant to reach out to the latter after seeing John Wick (which features a very similar plot to Keanu).
Reeves initially declined the chance to voice his feline doppelgänger, but had a change of heart after the film’s initial trailer came out. “Apparently, his sister showed him the trailer and said, ‘Hey, you gotta see this. You’re gonna love this!’ He flipped out and got in touch with us directly to say ‘If there’s anything I can do, let’s make this work,'” Atencio explained.
The film was already in post-production when Reeves got in touch, and he was in Italy filming John Wick 2. “So we had him go to a recording studio in Rome,” Atencio recounted to the Times. “I was on Skype with him, and I spent an hour recording a bunch of dialogue. They hooked it up so that I could talk and he could hear it in his headphones. The studio [Warner Bros.] was wanting him to drop a bunch of references to his old movies. But we didn’t want to make it overt or too pointed. We don’t want him to do, like, his ‘Bill and Ted’ voice and beat you over the head with it. And he had great ideas for lines. He was having fun with it.”
Reeves doesn’t actually voice the cat’s meows, but rather — spoiler — “a scene in the movie where Peele’s character is on a drug trip, and a cat kind of leads him through his hallucinations. We wanted to expand on that anyway, so we thought he could do the voiceover for the cat in that scene,” Atencio explained.