KEANU'S HAIR : A RETROSPECTIVE
Below is a transcribed conversation that I overheard whilst waiting for my train to leave Waterloo. I didn't catch the 30-something-year-olds' names and so for the sake of the article let's just call them Bill and Ted.
We join their conversation at Christian Bale...
Ted: ...Christian Bale was only on one Mars Bar and a pack of cigarettes a day during it.
T: Yeah! And did you see how fat he got for Batman afterwards? Nolan had to get him on a really intense work out, the film was almost pushed back and all this shit, because he was like 28 stone or something.
T: Yeah! It's like DeNiro man, waking up in the middle of the night to gobble a cheese burger for all that weight in Raging Bull... So impressive! Acting through 'becoming' the character, physicalising it.
B: You know it's like Keanu Reeves' hair.
B: Well, I'm not saying it's not impressive that Bale fluctuates between all those different weights so quickly or that DeNiro didn't go to the 'next level' in Raging Bull, but both times their bodies just became another costume. DeNiro resting his hand on his pot belly saying: "I could have been a contender..."
T: Wrong actor, wrong film.
B: Or Bale flexing his skeleton continuously whilst playing around with bleach and trying to remember the story to Fight Club or something.
T: The Machinist was good.
B: No-it-wasn't. I saw this poster the other day with silhouettes of all the different hairstyles Gary Oldman has had in loads of his films, like the beehive for Dracula.
T: Dreads for Drexel.
B: Yeah, exactly. And when Oldman flipped Drexel's dreads around with his "whiiiiittteee boi" get up, he was using the costume to do a lot of the acting for him. The hair stood out.
T: Drexel stood out.
B: Okay, bad example. But these actors are NOT becoming the characters, they are letting the weight, hair and costume do the acting for them. It stands out as an added... spectacle?
T: And Keanu?
B: Keanu acts with his hair.
T: His sad Keanu hair?
B: No! None of that internet shit: "he's a nice guy, he bought everyone who watched the Matrix a motorbike"
T: It was just the stunt guys.
B: Whatever, he doesn't need to be a nice guy because he's such an excellent actor... Name a film with him in?
B: Good choice. Short buzz cut, natural-ish. His hair almost bristles with the potential action star held beneath. It doesn't look too official though, not out of place. It radiates the desire for a slower pace of bus journey, for law and order but is also caked in sweat and grime letting us know Keanu is ready to get his hands, as well as his hair dirty.
T: How is that not costume?
B: He radiates it out the top of his head. Comes from a deeper place than costume... from inside his head.
T: Okay, how about Dracula?
B: Fuck Dracula. They messed with his hair too much in that film. He still did really well, they changed it just a bit too much and he acted as ridiculously as the hair. They need to let the hair make the decisions not the friggin costume department.
T: [laughing] so the hair is in control?
B: Only in Dracula.
T: What about... [is interrupted]
B: Look man, I'm right. Watch any of his films and pay close attention to all his acting, his hair especially and you will be amazed.
T: Okay okay, I'll watch Dracula tonight.
B: Don't be a dick. Watch Bill And Ted. You know how he got that part?
B: Yeah. He got it messing around in a MacDonald's queue. He got his first ever role with someone starring at the back his thick haired head. He secured his whole career with his hair.
T: How do you know they were standing behind him in the queue?
B: I just do.
After they'd said "yeah" for the hundredth time they remained pretty much silent for the rest of the train journey.
Words and illustrations by RICHARD MANDERS