Keanu Reeves wanted to make Passengers for “years and years and years,” he told Yahoo Movies while doing press for his anticipated film, John Wick: Chapter 2. Unfortunately, Reeves never got to do it.
Passengers, the tale of a man and woman’s space cruise gone wrong, was released at the tail end of 2016. While the film’s marketing campaign is fairly conspicuous in noting that it stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, that wasn’t a decision made in the beginning In 2007, Passengers was noticed when it was still just a screenplay by writer Jon Spaihts. Placed on “The Black List,” a collection of popular but unproduced screenplays, Passengers got scooped up by none other than Keanu Reeves.
Reeves was going to star in and produce the film, but that never came to fruition. For years, the project was stalled in development hell. Things started to look up when Wayfare Entertainment agreed to finance the film. The Weinstein Company then bought the rights in 2013 at Cannes, but couldn’t seem to get it off the launchpad, as financial concerns and the departure of actresses — including Reese Witherspoon and Rachel McAdams — kept Passengers spinning its wheels.
As recently as 2014, Reeves was still hopeful about participating in the movie project. “I’m hoping somehow, some way, I get to make that movie,” he told Yahoo Movies at the time. Alas, it wasn’t to be.
A few months after his interview, Sony Pictures bought the rights. In February 2015, Chris Pratt engaged in talks to star in it — and we all know how that turned out.
[Minor Passengers spoiler ahead.]
Reeves is hardly bitter about it, though, and has seen the movie. “I think what Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence did with that was really amazing,” he said. “They’re such a wonderful actor and actress. [Laurence Fishburne] is in that, and he did an amazing turn.”
Fishburne, who joins the John Wick franchise as the mysterious and powerful Bowery King, shows up in a surprising turn in Passengers. The actor, who befriended Reeves while the two made the Matrix films, told Yahoo Movies he could see his pal’s imprint on the script. “I know that [Reeves] was instrumental in developing it,” Fishburne said. “I know it had his hand on it, and you could feel that in the script. When I was told that he was one of the people that helped develop it, I went, ‘Oooook.’”
Reeves is pleased that the film was actually made after such a long wait. “I was really happy that my producing partner — Stephen Hamel; he developed that script — and Jon Spaihts, the writer [had their movie made],” Reeves said. “Everyone worked so hard for so long. I’m just happy that beautiful story got told by such wonderful people.”
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