It’s not always about the money, although you may not want to share that sentiment with Hollywood. That’s something actor Keanu Reeves is well aware of, having spent 10 years in what he calls “movie jail” for the nerve of turning down a huge paycheck to reunite with Sandra Bullock for Speed 2 back in the 1990s. What this translates to is that the studio behind the original Speed, 20th Century Fox, allegedly (according to the actor) put the word out that Keanu should not be used in any of their films.


Tatsuyuki TAYAMA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Speed took the Die Hard formula and successfully transported it to a bus that would explode with all its passengers aboard if it dropped below a certain … well … speed. The film, which paired Keanu up with Sandra and which cost $30 million, pulled in over $350 million around the world. Fox, as a studio is wont to do, planned on a sequel. Keanu, however, did not, and it had nothing in the world to do with money, but the script that had been written. The actor and Fox went their separate ways, the sequel — Speed 2: Cruise Control — was put into production with Sandra acting opposite Jason Patric and went on to bomb. Badly. It cost $160 million and pulled in $164 million. Yeesh.

“I didn’t get to be in that,” Keanu told Jimmy Kimmel back in 2015. “Well, I decided not to be in that. I loved working with [director] Jan de Bont and Sandra, of course. It was just a situation in life where I got the script and I read the script and I was, like, ‘Ugh.’ It was about a cruise ship … a cruise ship is even slower than a bus and I was, like, ‘I love you guys, but I just can’t do it.'”


James Devaney/GC Images

Keanu’s revelation about being blacklisted came in an interview with GQ, where he noted, “I didn’t work with [Fox] again until [2008’s] The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

One thing should be noted, if there was indeed a blacklisting, the only one that got hurt was Fox. Between Speed in 1994 and The Day the Earth Stood Still 14 years later, Keanu’s film roles included The Devil’s Advocate (starring with Al Pacino and Charlize Theron), the Matrix trilogy (a seminal hit), The Gift, Constantine and The Lake House (which put him back together with Sandra).

Considering the third chapter of his latest franchise, John Wick, is hitting theaters in May, it seems like “movie jail” was good for Keanu.

Be sure to check out and subscribe to our Classic TV & Film Podcast for interviews with your favorite stars!