How Keanu Reeves Was Tricked Into Starring in Thriller Flick ‘The Watcher’

by Lauren Boisvert

In 2000, Keanu Reeves starred in “The Watcher” in a role that critics agreed was wholly wrong for him. He played against type as a serial killer pitted against an FBI agent in a tense cat and mouse game. But, a year after the movie came out, Reeves revealed that he was actually tricked into starring in this movie.

Directed by Joe Charbanic, “The Watcher” also starred James Spader and Marissa Tomei. Speaking to the Calgary Sun (via The Guardian) in 2001, Keanu Reeves admitted that he’d been tricked into the movie. “I never found the script interesting, but a friend of mine forged my signature on the agreement,” he said. “I couldn’t prove he did and I didn’t want to get sued, so I had no other choice but to do the film.” 

Keanu Reeves refused to promote “The Watcher” when it came out, and it was met with largely negative reviews. Fans and critics didn’t like Reeves as a villain; he usually didn’t play purely evil characters, and certainly not a serial killer.

“Short of getting Angela Lansbury or Rodney Dangerfield or Lassie for the part, the miscasting could not be more complete,” wrote a critic for the Guardian when the film came out. “Keanu is profoundly wrong as a serial killer.”

What Movie Launched Keanu Reeves’ Career?

Keanu Reeves’ first movie was 1985’s “One Step Away,” which also starred Diana Belshaw and Kathleen Fee. It was technically a short film released by the National Film Board of Canada. It was a cautionary tale about a teenager named Ron Petrie, who lands himself in trouble through a series of bad decisions. He must decide how he’s going to continue living his life: through redemption, or embracing a life of crime.

After “One Step Away,” Reeves landed some small roles throughout the late 80s. Notably, he appeared in in “Act of Vengeance” and “Brotherhood of Justice.” He then starred in 1988’s “Permanent Record” and began to establish himself as a serious actor. In 1989, he really broke through as Ted Logan in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”

From there, his career really took off. He became a leading man in his own right, starring in “Speed,” “Point Break,” “The Devil’s Advocate,” and “Constantine.”

He’s definitely most recognized for his action films, as Neo in “The Matrix” series and the titular John Wick in the “John Wick” franchise. He’s a fan and critic favorite, and despite the hiccup of “The Watcher,” Reeves’ body of work is nothing short of legendary.