Lucky for us, it was Keanu
Pop culture sweetheart Keanu Reeves showed up in an unlikely place at E3 2019: In one of the world’s most anticipated video games. CD Projekt Red made a lot of headlines Sunday afternoon when it revealed that Reeves would play a prominent role in the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077. But, the developer wasn’t going out searching for a way to make a splash.
In an E3 interview with Destructoid, CD Projekt Red senior level designer Miles Tost admits that the developer wasn’t interested in getting a Hollywood actor for the sake of attaching a big name. “It was either him or no one,” Tost says. “That was our mindset. We didn’t think ‘We need a star for this role,’ but rather ‘Hey, he might be the perfect character’ and luckily I guess it all worked out for us.
Tost elaborates on the process by saying “It was almost organic how it happened. We made the character, we had our story, we were playing around with it — it became more and more apparent that it’d be really cool if we could get Keanu Reeves for it.” If Reeves said no, it sounds as if CD Projekt Red would’ve approached the role like every other NPC: By finding a voice actor who fit the character rather than targeting an A-list celebrity.
As for how Reeves was receptive to the role, Tost ventures a guess. “I’m just speculating, but he might’ve seen the similarities that we saw between him and [Johnny Silverhand] and that might’ve been attractive to him. Besides, Johnny Silverhand, lead singer of the Samurai band, and one of the big rebels of the Cyberpunk universe. A legend. It sounds like a story that might be interesting to someone like Keanu.” A legend playing a legend. That’s a match made in heaven.
We’ll have more throughout the week from our interview with Tost and our time with the Cyberpunk 2077 E3 demo.