Among the many highlights of Ali Wong and Randall Park’s Netflix rom-com “Always Be My Maybe” was the absolute surprise of a character played by Keanu Reeves.
But while writing in a superstar such as Reeves for basically an extended cameo is not much of a challenge for the actress/comedy writer, actually landing the movie star for the part could have been difficult because he was reportedly then in the middle of filming the latest installment of the “John Wick” film franchise.
In an interview with Variety, “Always Be My Maybe” director Nahnatchka Khan shared that they were merely hoping for the best when they sent him the script.
“He was the sort of ideal scenario,” Khan explained. “You’re like, ‘Oh, this is probably never going to happen, but here it is.’ And then he got sent the script and he responded. And we sat down with him and he had some great thoughts on the character. So, we revised it, sent it back to him. He was like, ‘Absolutely!’”
Khan noted that while they only have a few days to shoot, Reeves made it all worthwhile.
“We got him in this little window — I think he was wrapping ‘John Wick’ in New York and then was about to go to Morocco or something. So, we got him for this short time. The fact that he was willing to do it when he could have gotten to sleep for five days, is amazing.”
In the film, Reeves plays an obnoxious version of himself who is one of the love interests of Wong’s character Sasha.
“We always knew we wanted him from Day One,” Park, who plays Wong’s leading man, Marcus, tells the LA Times. “At that point in the story when Marcus finally knows he has feelings for Sasha and he’s going to tell her but she’s been dating somebody else, we thought, ‘What would be Marcus’ worst nightmare?’”
Reeves did as expected and brilliantly played Marcus’ worst nightmare in the two scenes he was in.
“He’s Marcus’ worst nightmare because Marcus also idolizes him – because everyone does,” said Park. “But to have him dating Sasha? It can’t get any worse than that, especially at the moment when he’s ready to tell her, after all these years, how he feels.”
According to Khan, read the entire script, embraced his character’s douchey persona, and committed to it.
“A lot of the time somebody of his stature will just read their section. He read the whole script and realized how his character fits in,” Khan explains. “You’re tracking Marcus during that section because he’s trying to tell her how he feels and she throws this grenade, and it feels like his worst nightmare: It’s literally Keanu Reeves that she’s dating.”
“He trusted me, Ali and Randall to make the joke into what we’d talked about; he is not the butt of the joke — he is in on the joke with us,” she said.
Khan shared that several funny bits from Reeves’ scenes actually came from his idea, including the “I missed your light”/”I missed your soul” exchange and the lensless glasses he was wearing at the restaurant scene.
“When we were shooting on the day there were a lot of funny jokes he was pitching because he thought it would be funny if he knew a lot of Chinese dignitaries and started listing them. Of course, Keanu would know that. He knows everything.”
“Always Be My Maybe” was released in select theaters on May 29 and on Netflix two days later.