Keanu Reeves Turned Down $12 Million For A Famous Sequel, But Took A Pay Cut To Star In The Devil’s Advocate

Getting to work with Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves took a pay cut for The Devil’s Advocate, but he wasn’t as easygoing for a certain sequel.

If playing Neo in The Matrix were to be considered the most significant role of Keanu Reeves‘ career, then an argument could be made that he owes a good part of his success to another man’s decision to turn down the role. Will Smith infamously said no to an offer to play the classic character because he felt that the creators of the now classic sci-fi franchise were still quite inexperienced.

As Reeves reaped the benefits of Smith’s decision, the independence day star went on to star in a Western action film titled Wild Wild West. In great contrast to The Matrix, the film was met with a widespread negative reaction from fans and critics. It was a similar story at the box office, where the picture flopped massively as well.


Of course, Reeves is not himself a stranger to saying no various movie roles. Speed ​​Racer, Marvel‘s Eternals, The Fly and Heat are all among major big screen productions that — for different reasons — the actor refused to star in.

RELATED: Keanu Reeves Saved His Career By Turning Down This Horrible Movie

Another instance that saw Reeves refuse to feature in a big film was when he said no to a sequel of Speedhis famous action thriller of 1994.

What Was The Movie Speed ​​About?

Keanu Reeves Speed

The movie Speed was written by Graham Yost, directed by Jan de Bont and starred Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. The film followed the story of LAPD SWAT officer Jack Traven (Reeves) and civilian passenger Annie Porter (Bullock) as they race against time to save a bus full of hostages from a mad bomber.

Throughout the story, Reeves’ character is shown as a determined and skilled police officer who is willing to risk his own life to save others. Sandra Bullock’s Annie Porter is a relatable and resourceful civilian who proves to be a valuable asset in the face of danger.

Howard Payne, played by Dennis Hopper, is the main antagonist of the film. He is motivated by greed and a desire for revenge. Depicted as a chilling villain, Payne will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

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Jeff Daniels portrayed Jack Traven’s partner, Harry Temple. He is also an LAPD SWAT officer and assists Traven in the initial stages of diffusing the situation with the bomb-rigged bus. He is a supportive and dependable partner and also provides comic relief to the intense situation.

Keanu Reeves Missed Out On A $12 Million Pay When He Said No To Speed ​​2

Following its release in June 1994, Speed received generally positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. It was also a box office hit, grossing over $350 million worldwide against a budget of $30 million. Critics praised the film for its adrenaline-fueled action sequences, thrilling stunts, and strong performances from the cast.

The movie was also praised for its clever premise, which kept audiences on the edge of their seats from start to finish. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock’s chemistry on screen was also noted as a highlight of the film. The New York Times called Speed “a sleek, well-crafted thriller,” while Rolling Stone described it as “a high-octane action movie that never lets up.”

RELATED: Where Do Sandra Bullock And Keanu Reeves Stand Today?

On the back of this incredible success, plans were set in motion for a sequel, which was given the working title Speed ​​2: Cruise Control. Reeves was invited to reprise his role alongside Bullock, with a $12 million paycheck on the table. He refused, and chose to focus on other projects instead.

Keanu Reeves Took A Pay Cut To Star Alongside Al Pacino In The Devil’s Advocate

Keanu Reeves Al Pacino The Devil's Advocate

The concept for Speed ​​2: Cruise Control was to follow similar themes as the first film, but it was set on a Caribbean cruise ship. One of the reasons that Reeves refused to take on this project was his failure to connect to that storyline.

“At the time, I just didn’t respond to the script,” he said while appearing in an episode of The Graham Norton Show in December 2021.

“I really wanted to work with Sandra Bullock, and I really loved playing Jack Traven,” continued Reeves. “It wasn’t [anything] against any of the artists that were involved in the project.”

Among the challenges he decided to take on after turning down Speed ​​2 was the Taylor Hackford horror film The Devil’s Advocate. He would star alongside Al Pacino in the film, but he reportedly took a pay cut in order to allow the studio to afford The Godfather legend.

The decision proved to be an astute one, as Speed ​​2 turned out to be a critical and commercial failure. On the other hand, The Devil’s Advocate grossed $152.9 million against a budget of $57 million, with critics particularly effusive about Pacino’s performance.

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