It’s no secret that Keanu Reeves is irreplaceable. He’s so good, he’s even the official Pajiban “Best Chris”! But it’s one thing for us internet yahoos to hold him deep within our obsessive bosoms, and it’s another thing entirely for filmmakers who want to hire him for their movies. Sure, you may have the perfect part for him. Sure, it may have even been written for him specifically, as just a heightened fictionalized version of “Keanu Reeves, hot celebrity.” But that doesn’t mean the man is available. Which is why you’ve gotta have some backups in mind in case Keanu is busy being Keanu in someone else’s movie.
Vulture got the casting low-down from Always Be My Maybe director Nahnatchka Khan and co-writers/stars Ali Wong and Randall Park, and while most of the article is about how they did manage to land THE Keanu to play A Keanu in their movie, it’s clear they were already thinking about how they’d pivot if they didn’t. Most of their backups make a lot of sense, and all of them would have been charming as all get out in the part (including Tony Leung, M. Night Shyamalan, and Reeves’s John Wick 3 co-star, Mark Dacascos). But Park had one particular actor in mind that Wong shot down: Paul g*ddamn Giamatti.
“I thought that would be really funny,” says Park. “But Ali was like, ‘No, that’s not the direction I want to go in.’”
“It was very important to me that it be someone who was Asian-American who would also be Marcus’s worst nightmare,” explains Wong. “Because if Daniel Dae Kim” — Sasha’s fiancé in the beginning of the film — “showed up, you’d be like, Ahh! if you were Marcus. It’s got to be even worse than that. So it’s got to be someone who’s internationally iconic, and someone who fits those two Venn diagrams is basically Keanu Reeves.”
I mean, look. I’m happy I get to hear Keanu rave about Ali Wong’s thighs, but now a part of me wants to see that scene with Paul Giamatti instead. I’M ONLY HUMAN AND THE HEART WANTS WHAT IT WANTS.
Anyway, the story of how they did hire Keanu — which involves a very charming meeting at the Chateau Marmont, where Keanu professed his own admiration for Wong’s standup (SAMESIES), knew the script already, and held Wong’s hand as he started getting into character on the spot — is lovely, and provides more fuel for our Keanu 4Eva love. But of all the little details they shared, it’s Keanu’s food order that might be the most relatable:
“God knows what I had, but we all remembered what Keanu ordered,” says Khan. “He ordered a Corona and the mixed nuts. I think I’ll always remember that, until my dying day.”
Celebrities — they’re just like me at happy hour!