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Generation Um… – Keanu Reeves on the emotional impact of the mystery

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Generation Um... - Adelaide Clemens, Bojana Novakovic and Keanu Reeve
Generation Um... - Mia (Adelaide Clemens), Violet (Bojana Novakovic) and John (Keanu Reeves) ©2012 Voltage Pictures

In Keanu Reeves’ new movie Generation Um… he portrays John, a driver in New York City, who along with his girlfriends Mia (Adelaide Clemens) and Violet (Bojana Novakovic), are recovering from partying all night. Impulsively stealing a camcorder, John decides to film his world, including Violet and Mia, who attempt to outdo each other by revealing their most intimate secrets.

Generation Um … debuts on VOD on April 26th, and opens in New York and Los Angeles on May 3rd. I spoke with Keanu recently about this unusual movie.

What is it about Generation Um… that drew you to this project?

Generation Um... - Keanu Reeve
John (Keanu Reeves) ©2012 Voltage Pictures

I found out about this script while I was making Henry’s Crime.

The producer Alison (Palmer Bourke) of that was also working on this picture, so when I read the script I was like, ‘This is amazing. I’d like to meet the director/writer (Mark Mann).’

So I met Mark and we got along and went on to make the film.

It’s interesting that Generation Um… is a film about a guy making a film about these girls, while all along you’re being shot by the director. Did you have to be cognizant of where the camera shooting you was at all times?

Generation Um... - Keanu Reeves, Bojana Novakovic and Adelaide Clemens
John (Keanu Reeves), Violet (Bojana Novakovic) and Mia (Adelaide Clemens) ©2012 Voltage Pictures

Yes. Technically speaking, it was challenging because you have a 360 (perspective) and the set is hot everywhere.

No matter where you put a camera, you’re shooting from every direction at the same time.

There was an unpredictable quality to it.

Was it tough as an actor, because you were actually shooting the video throughout the movie?

Generation Um... - Bojana Novakovic, Adelaide Clemens and Keanu Reeves
Violet (Bojana Novakovic), Mia (Adelaide Clemens) and John (Keanu Reeves) ©2012 Voltage Pictures

It was really fun. When I was going into the project, I didn’t know that I was going to be literally filming the sequences involving the girls.

I was assuming that the cinematographer would take that over, and Mark said,  ‘No, you can do it.’ That was a great trust and a cool opportunity. I was really excited by that.

We learn about (my character) John by what he looks at through the lens, and we learn about the other characters through his camera. It also plays into the idea of structure and variety in the picture and an idea of perspectives.

Who are we? Who do we think we are?

[The movie] starts out like a mystery, which gets resolved by the end of the picture. When I read the script, it had an emotional impact on me of how this story comes together. When I watch the film, I’m moved.

Was any of the dialogue ad-libbed or was it mostly scripted?

Generation Um... - Poster: Keanu Reeves, Bojana Novakovic and Adelaide Clemens
Poster featuring: John (Keanu Reeves), Violet (Bojana Novakovic) and Mia (Adelaide Clemens) ©2012 Voltage Pictures

It was all scripted. It’s a testament to Mark’s writing that he could come up with dialogue that was so naturalistic.

At one point in the movie John talks about being more disappointed in himself and his life than his parents were of him. You’ve had a lot of success in your life, could you relate to that idea at all?

We all feel our disappointments somewhere at some point. I could completely relate to some of that.

What does Keanu think of the younger generation that the title of the movie refers to? Click here to listen to his reply.