“It could have been like a bad dream”: Keanu Reeves’ Wild Night-Out With Late Oscar-Nominated Star Ended With Actors Signing on a Movie Deal

Known for his roles in blockbuster franchises like The Matrix and John Wick, Reeves’s career has spanned decades, and he has left an indelible mark on the film industry. However, it was his lesser-known work in My Own Private Idaho (1991) and his deep friendship with the late Oscar-nominated actor River Phoenix that revealed a different side of the actor.
Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves
Released in 1991, the film revolves around the lives of two young hustlers, Mike Waters (River Phoenix) and Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves), as they navigate the gritty world of street hustling in Portland, Oregon. Keanu Reeves traveled several thousand miles to bring River Phoenix on board for the 1991 Gus Van Sant film.

How the Two Actors Gave Commitment to Play the Roles in My Own Private Idaho?

Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix were great friends in the early 90s. Keanu Reeves convinced River Phoenix to be his co-star in My Own Private Idaho by riding his 1974 Norton Commando motorcycle 1,300 miles from Toronto to Florida, where Phoenix was living with his family at the time.

Reeves had already agreed to star in the film, but he knew that Phoenix was hesitant to take on the edgier role of the drug-addicted hustler Mike Waters. So, Reeves decided to make a personal appeal.
Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix in My Own Private IdahoKeanu Reeves and River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho
Phoenix told Interview Magazine:

We were doing I Love You to Death (1990), and we got the Idaho script. We were driving in a car on Santa Monica Boulevard, probably on the way to a club, and were talking really fast about the whole idea. We were excited.”
He continued:
It could have been like a bad dream, a dream that never follows through because no one commits, but we just forced ourselves into it. We said, “Okay, I’ll do it if you do it. I won’t do it if you don’t.” We shook hands. That was it.”
Reeves and Phoenix went on to have a close friendship and their performances in My Own Private Idaho are considered to be among their best.

Shooting for My Own Private Idaho was a Very Intense Experience for Keanu Reeves

Before signing on for My Own Private Idaho, Reeves and Phoenix had already starred together in the 1990 film I Love You To DeathMy Own Private Idaho was one of Keanu Reeves’ most difficult jobs to date. Despite the fact that he was adamant about playing the lead role from the beginning notwithstanding the challenges involved.
Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix in My Own Private IdahoKeanu Reeves and River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho
But after garnering some boost from his costar River Phoenix and director Gus Van Sant, he did manage to overcome the odds, delivering an exceptional performance as Scott Favor.

I’m an actor,” The Matrix star said in the same interview.
“That wasn’t a problem. But shooting was a very intense experience. I had just finished Point Break and was still into my character – I felt a bit of anxiety about Idaho. I was overwhelmed at what I had to do—it was like, Oh, no! Can I do this? I was afraid. But Gus and River made me fit in. Said, ‘Let’s do one b*tchin’ movie.’”
Their shared experience working on My Own Private Idaho forged a deep connection between them, and Reeves has been open about the impact Phoenix had on his life and career.

My Own Private Idaho is available to stream on Apple TV.

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