SPOILERS for Hobbs & Shaw ahead.
Dwayne Johnson has revealed what Keanu Reeves' role in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw would've been, and why things didn't work out. The first Fast & Furious spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw follows its namesakes (Johnson and Jason Statham) as they're forced to team up and save the world. Along the way, the pair end up battling an MI6 agent-turned terrorist name Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), who's been enhanced with cybernetic implants and works for a techno-terrorist organization known as Eteon.
Eteon's mysterious Director is only ever heard as a heavily-processed voice in Hobbs & Shaw, and viewers have been speculating rampantly about their true identity since the film hit theaters last Thursday. Some have even guessed that the Director is really The Fate of the Furious villain Cypher (Charlize Theron), and that next year's Fast & Furious 9 - which Theron is officially returning for - will confirm as much. According to Johnson, however, the Hobbs & Shaw team had something else in mind altogether.
Speaking to Screen Rant during our Hobbs & Shaw junket conference call, Johnson confirmed that Reeves was originally in talks to play Eteon's Director, but things didn't work out. Here's his explanation for what happened:
"And then what we also did at the end was we left the ominous voice faceless. So, for some time, I think you guys have heard the rumor that it was going to be a bit of a John Wick, all disguised. But then we left it there [with] a few people in mind. Originally, Keanu was the goal. We were talking, and it just didn’t feel right creatively. ...He and I talked, and I totally got it. And it wound up being the best thing, so now we leave that open for the future."
Reeves, of course, has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity since he starred in 2014's cult hit-turned franchise starter John Wick - a film that, as it happens, was co-directed by Hobbs & Shaw helmer David Leitch (who was uncredited). It makes sense, then, that The Rock and his team reached out to him for their Fast & Furious spinoff. After all, the larger franchise has been on a mission to add more and more big names to its ranks over the last decade, with Johnson and Theron among the A-listers who've signed on for recurring roles in that time. Hobbs & Shaw ultimately leaves the Eteon Director's identity up in the air for its sequel to resolve, so there's technically still a chance that Reeves could end up playing the role down the line (should he change his mind).
While he's generally known for playing heroes or noble antiheroes in his action films, Reeves has portrayed villains a handful of times in the past (for example, his directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi), and the results have generally been memorable. Of course, Johnson didn't mention why the role of Eteon's Director didn't "feel right creatively" for Reeves, so it might not have anything to do with the character being the bad guy. Still, that would've been quite the cliffhanger, having Hobbs & Shaw end with the reveal that John Wick himself is coming for the movie's leads. Here's hoping that Hobbs & Shaw 2 (assuming it happens) has something similarly impressive up its sleeves.
- Fast & Furious 9 (2020) release date: May 22, 2020