Tom Hanks Turned Down the Offer That Made Keanu Reeves One of the Biggest Action Stars of Hollywood

Tom Hanks was in talks to play Keanu Reeves’ role in 1994 action thriller, ‘Speed’ directed by Jan de Bont.

It’s almost hard to imagine anyone else doing Bill Cutting in place of the legendary Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York, or Tim Robbins’ Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption but Hollywood veteran Tom Hanks came pretty close to playing several iconic characters including Cutting and Dufresne. The actor was also in negotiation to play one of Keanu Reeves’ roles.
Tom Hanks and Tyler Hoechlin in a car in a scene from Road to Perdition

Tom Hanks and Tyler Hoechlin in Road to Perdition
Of course, it’s not John Wick, it would have been kind of weird seeing Hanks as John Wick, as for fans, Reeves was immersed in the character and he is now hard to replace. But Hanks almost booked the slot of the 1994 hit action thriller, Speed. But the role eventually went to the John Wick star.

Tom Hanks Turned Down Speed 

Tom Hanks in a scene in Saving Private RyanTom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan

Tom Hanks has an astonishing legacy as an actor with the privilege to turn down any movie despite huge potential success. The actor has turned down several movies in his legendary career which includes Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally…, and Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire. Hanks was also in talks to lead Jan de Bont’s Speed (per MovieWeb).

Certainly, it would have been completely different seeing Hanks in action in place of Keanu Reeves but he was cast in the role of Jack Traven after Tom Cruise and Hanks turned down the role for reasons unknown.

Looking at Hanks’ choice of movies, it is clearly evident that he was avoiding straight action movies. Rather, his interest was locked with action movies like Saving Private Ryan or Road to Perdition for depth in narrative and storytelling. Still, Speed was an opportunity for the actor to push his limit to the edge of a thrilling ride. It is unclear if he regretted declining the movie which propelled Reeves’ career as an action to a new height.

Reeves was already popular in the ’90s after his appearances in Point Break and Bill and Ted, but The Matrix and Speed made him one of the most fan-favorite action stars and was later elevated with John Wick.

Speed Ended With A Flop Sequel Without Keanu Reeves In It

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in the bus in Speed.
Reeves’ action legacy in Speed was tarnished when the director and the studio had to go without Reeves in the sequel. The first movie was a huge hit and a critically praised action thriller with a 76% Rotten Tomatoes score. 20th Century Fox wanted a sequel to inherit the success of the first film but it was doomed both critically and commercially. Reeves’ co-star in the first movie, Sandra Bullock who played Annie Porter, reprised her role in Speed 2: Cruise Control leading the movie alongside Jason Patric, but the movie was far from being appealing to fans and critics.

However, Bont is still open to return to the director’s chair for a third installment of the movie series. In a chat with Collider, he revealed having one condition to make another Speed movie despite not being a fan of sequels. “It depends on how the story is, I think,” he told the outlet.

“Generally, I’m not a huge fan for sequels. I had in my contract that I would do a sequel. If you have to, you have to have the cast to want to come back too because, otherwise, you have to tell a whole new movie. Because some of the first one was so much centered around him and about him, the awkwardness a little bit in him being a hero. And that awkwardness of being in a position to be a hero is … That worked really well for him but it doesn’t work well for other actors. And it’s really hard to find that same kind of feeling back.”

At this point, it is hard to predict if fans would be open to embrace another installment to the franchise. Of course, the original movie was gripping and filled with suspense but the essence can’t easily be repeated. Bont has also acknowledged the fact that it would be a tough row to hoe for another sequel.


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