Reeves loves him some mocap.
Keanu Reeves shook the house at Microsoft’s E3 2019 showcase, after the latest trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 revealed he would be playing Johnny Silverhands, a rebellious rock star and the player character’s companion during at least some of the game. IGN sat down with Reeves, who also recently starred in John Wick 3, to talk about why he wanted to be a part of CD Projekt Red’s next big role-playing game.
“Part of the attraction for me was that not only was it my face, but they were asking me to perform a role, and a cool one,” Reeves said. “I really love the format of the game and some of the questions it asks, what’s revealed, and what it demands of the player. There’s some interesting choices that have to get made.”
This isn’t the first time Reeves’ likeness has been immortalized in a video game. His character Neo was used in Enter the Matrix way back in 2003. In the nearly two decades since then, video game tech has come a long way.
“For me, the technology of motion capture has gotten a little quicker,” Reeves said. “When I first did face capture, I think it was an array of cameras and it was blacked out in a tent. It was a huge deal that there was five terabytes. They had five terabytes to do this capture. It felt like some black ops thing. OK, this is super secret hardware, doing super secret tech stuff, and it probably was, right?”
Reeves admits he’s not a lore expert on Johnny Silverhands, who in the Cyberpunk tabletop universe is essentially a sci-fi version of the Dungeons & Dragons’ bard class. Reeves does say though that he was able to collaborate with CD Projekt Red on what his version of Johnny would look and sound like. On a broader scale, Reeves says he was also attracted to how vast role-playing games like Cyberpunk offer players a wide variety of choices.
“I’ve got a couple people who I’ve worked with who’ve done voices in games,” Reeves said. “I hadn’t done that yet. For me I was attracted to the storytelling. The different versions. It’s not just choose-your-own end but choose-your-own path in a weird way, which I thought was cool. There’s so many massively multiplayer games and this one is kind of your own private, almost cinematic experience. Even reading it, it’s almost like literature in a way, right? You’re participating in this open world but it’s your story, your choices.”
Of course the big question on many players’ minds is just how often they’ll interact with Reeves through Johnny Silverhands. Reeves wasn’t able to give a clear cut answer, but did tease that the relationship would run deeper than a single interaction.
“My character Johnny interacts with the role-player,” Reeves said. “So I interact with whoever is playing that and I’m part of their journey, but they’re also part of mine, so you know, you’ll see what happens.”
Joseph Knoop is a writer and producer for IGN. Get Wick-y with him on Twitter @JosephKnoop.