Keanu Reeves stars as an LA cop who’ll go to just about any lengths to take down a criminal in the gritty drama Street Kings. Directed by David Ayer (Harsh Times) and based on a story by James Ellroy, Street Kings focuses on veteran officer Tom Ludlow (Reeves) who is part of the Ad Vice, a specialized unit of the LAPD, overseen by Captain Wander (Forest Whitaker). The group doesn't necessarily play by the rules and when Ludlow’s old partner – a guy who’s been talking to Internal Affairs about the team’s activities – is murdered, he goes outside of the established channels to investigate the shooting.
Teaming up with the actors who play members of the Ad Vice unit – John Corbett, Jay Mohr, and Amaury Nolasco - Reeves talked about working with David Ayer and taking on Street Kings.
Street Kings Press Conference: Keanu Reeves, Jay Mohr, John Corbett, and Amaury Nolasco
You've done a lot of weapons training, but what did you learn this time around?
Keanu Reeves: “What did I learn? Practice, practice, practice. You have to practice. I needed a lot of practice. I wasn't very good. I just wanted to be able to look like I knew what I was doing, and so I had the benefit of working with Rick Lopez, who's here, and just practicing, learning great techniques, some footwork and entrances and different kinds of reloads. All that kind of stuff.”
Jay Mohr: “Is it true that you're going to be on Dancing with the Stars next year? Yes or no? Just say it now.”
Keanu Reeves: “No, but I really enjoyed the part. It was really fun.”
Were there any injuries during the filming of this?
Keanu Reeves: “When we’re going in that car there was a lot of kicking, wasn't there? I kicked you in the chest, didn't I?”
Amaury Nolasco: “There was me beating you with the rubber gun.”
Keanu Reeves: “Yeah, the hard rubber gun, and ripping his face off for a couple of days.”
John Corbett: “Yeah, they pulled this car up, I think it's called a Go Mobile and it's this car with a 500 horse power Cadillac engine in it. A guy sits outside of your car and a cameraman is in the backseat. Keanu is in the backseat and I'm driving. Amaury is in the passenger side. So we're actually driving through the streets of L.A. in a kind of choreographed stunt with the real cars coming at us. A couple of times we smacked off the side of a bus, and there's really no special FX. We're flying about 50 miles an hour for almost a mile and a half and Keanu has a handcuff in my mouth and I'm trying to drive. But, of course, the guy on the side is driving, though you never see him.”
“These two are going at it with full force and his fist is swinging by me and the wind is like a hurricane coming by as they go at it, kicking each other. There's no choreography to it. It was just on action that they started going at each other, hitting each other with everything. And then the director would yell, ‘Cut!’ and we'd have to go back again. They'd be sitting there rubbing their shoulders and wiping the blood off their lip. It was pretty intense, that scene there.”
How did you feel about the police before doing this film and did doing the film make you see them in a different light?
Amaury Nolasco: “I can speak for myself. I've always had a problem with authority, but I have to say that I the utmost respect for the guys in blue, putting themselves on the line all the time. I guess we don't realize it all the time either. We call 911 when we have petty little things. I guess we don't realize how they put themselves on the line for so much stuff that when we get a bad attitude coming from them, we were expecting them to be smiling and whatnot. That's not the case all the time.”
“For my character, one of the things that I wanted to do is get to the fact that every cop joins the force because they had a dream of becoming the good guy, solving crimes and getting the thieves. No one joins the force to become a corrupt cop. In order to become corrupt there has to be something that happens, some reason, whether it's one day you stopped a kid with $20 and some pot and you kept the $20 or you don't want to go through the whole paperwork thing. Or maybe you have a kid and you're not making enough money and you need to get the kid medicine. The point is that I wanted to justify why cops do become corrupted. Every cop has a reason, and I'm not saying that every cop is corrupt. Working with Rick and the real guys showed me a lot. We had Daryl Gates in the movie, too.”
Jay Mohr: “I've always been pro police.”
Keanu Reeves: “I just had a different sense of the man, the person in the uniform. I have a deeper appreciation for them. They didn't just become a cop and a man in a uniform. It's a deeper appreciation for the person in the uniform. Some of the things and the stories that I've heard, with that appreciation, I guess have a real deep respect for them. It's not only the life in the job. It's the life outside of the job. I think that with the experience of this film I got to have a greater knowledge of what it is to live outside of the job. It's not an easy job. It's not an easy job to just ‘live with’. It comes home with you.”
John Corbett: “Believe it not, in 1982 I went through the LA County Sheriff's program and it took about a year. I was working in a steel factory. I was a boiler maker. My dad tried to become a Deputy Sheriff in the late '60s and he didn't make it, so I tried. It took about a year. Every three months or so, you go in and you do your physical agility. You pass that and move on to interviews and orals and stuff like that. Ultimately I didn't make it. I wasn't Deputy Sheriff material, but I wanted to do it.”
“I'll tell you a funny story. When we were doing that scene at the funeral, I was talking to a street cop and he told me a cool thing. He said that whenever he pulls over a car, if it's got kids in it he never gives a ticket because what happens is that he gives that dad a ticket and that dad drives away going, 'Damn cops…,' and the kids pick that up. But now the dad drives away and says, 'Cops are pretty cool,’ and the kids grow up with a whole different idea of cops. I like that philosophy.”