The 54-year-old actor stars as the flashy Canadian stunt motorcyclist in the film, but there’s more to the toy than the writers ever planned for.
“He’s, like, a legit movie star, but a gentleman, and one of the most thoughtful actors we ever worked with,” producer Jonas Rivera told USA Today at the Los Angeles premiere of the film on Tuesday.
The film’s director, Josh Cooley, also couldn’t help but gush about Reeves and his professionalism.
“He would ask these really deep character questions, and you couldn’t ignore them,” Cooley told the newspaper.
When the Pixar-Disney team pitched the project to Reeves, he wanted to know what drove Duke Caboom and what he was afraid of — all things Cooley didn’t have the answers to.
“Not at first,” Cooley explained. “He hadn’t said yes to the role yet, either, so it was kind of a test. It really did force us to dig deeper into this character that we thought was more of a gag.”
Because of Reeves’ questions, Duke Caboom “became a well-rounded, real character” that earned a lot of laughs.
“[Keanu] didn’t just come to do a funny cartoon voice, he dug deep,” Rivera said.
Toy Story 4 is in theaters June 20.