Keanu Reeves at Caltech – A Rare Glimpse Inside "The Day The Earth Stood Still"

Keanu Reeves visits Caltech with Director Scott Derrickson and Scientists Sean Carroll, Joel Burdick, and Maria Spiropulu at Beckman Auditorium in Pasadena, CA to discuss Hollywood and Science’s in-depth collaboration in the new blockbuster The Day The Earth Stood Still.

So I confess, I’m hit or miss with most of Keanu’s movies.  Never a must-see.  I skipped the last two Matrix’s.  Frankly, I almost opted out of this opportunity, but I took it with a mission: find a piece of Keanu that’s new and different.

The director Scott Derrickson is a younger guy, high energy with a very happy smile.  On the press line, Derrickson eagerly answers questions.  His overall theme is:  “It’s a popcorn movie with interesting ideas.”

Soon enough, the scientists join Derrickson on the red carpet.  Sean Carroll and Joel Burdick. Together they will join him and Keanu Reeves to discuss the reality behind the fiction of the movie in front of a Caltech audience.

Johnny, Neo, Klaatu

Keanu arrived quite unassumingly.  But as word spread, a crowd formed.  I decided to cherry pick, following him down the press line hoping some interviews would help reveal a new angle to Mr. Reeeves.

Question after question, mostly the exact same things.  Keanu politely answered, relatively straight-faced and quietly.  After each time he’d take a few seconds break with his publicist to clear his mind before the next set of monotonous questions. 

Contrary to the rumor mills, Reeves is intelligent.  He’s well-read, cultured, a deep-thinker.  Yes, I really just said that.  He’s actually a bookworm.  If you ever choose to investigate him, you’ll find a deeper understanding to the projects he picks.  But more on that in a bit.

Inside the Science

Caltech students waited for hours to get a good seat.  After the director introduces a short clip of their new release The Day The Earth Stood Still, the lights come up and both scientists, the director Scott Derrickson and Keanu Reeves all find their seats.  Tonight’s moderator is Maria Spiropulu an attractive brunette who intermittently goes gaga for the star.

Caltech students wait hours for a chance to meet Keanu Reeves

Spiropulu ends up being my secret weapon.  She asks honest, sincere questions that end up being flat, leading to great reactions.  Case in point, she asks Keanu what the preparation is for his roles.  He smiles and pauses, waiting for her spin.  It never happens.  Her question is simple and straight-forward.  After an awkward laugh he deadpans: “I read the script.”

Reeves and Derrickson on panel

But it’s clear he did more.  And that brings us to the point of the whole evening.  Hollywood is working hard to make scientists more real.  Seth Shostak from the SETI Institute, was the science adviser in remake of “The Day The Earth Stood Still”.

Shostak helped make the scientists in the movie more real with less techno-babble. He says with a laugh, “If real scientists ever saw an object entering our solar system, they would not communicate in technical terms but would scream, “There is a god damned rock headed our way.”   Shostak also wrote out some great blackboard equations in the scenes so the movie could flaunt important physics.

Sean Carroll, a Caltech Astrophysicist stole the show.  Comfortable on stage, and quick with a snappy line, he delivered some of the most knowledgeable discussion as well as the funniest.

Thesis Conclusion

I’m gonna go out on a limb and declare that Spiropulu is Keanu’s newest comic muse because her actions and words got some of the best and funniest looks and words out of him.  And that’s where the real Keanu came out.  Not in a plastic press quote or in an arranged photo op.  But sitting there, between smiles and chatting with the audience.   Moments of his dry humor and looks of shock and fun.  

Keanu shared with us that night.  Now it’s time to share his next movie with him!

“The Day The Earth Stood Still” opens December 12 nationwide.   For more information on the movie, please visit its website:

For more information on Caltech and it’s sciences, visit:

The SETI Institute is dedicated to the deep scientific understanding of life in all its forms on Earth, and to exploration of the cosmos for evidence of life, especially intelligent life.  For more information, please visit:

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