Keanu Reeves is taking heat from the head of a film company who claims the “John Wick” star walked off one of his films at the last minute, sending plans for the film — which was set to begin shooting in October — into a tailspin.
In an interview with Deadline, Millennium Films chairman Avi Lerner claims a crew had been hired, location scouting had started and the script was in the process of being revised when he received word that Reeves was not going to be doing the film.
“I got a call at the beginning of the week and he said Keanu walked away from the movie. I said why? Did he not like the director, the script? No, I was told, he just has a problem with the next movie,” said Lerner, saying that Reeves claimed to have a scheduling conflict with Lerner’s movie — “The Detail” — and the upcoming “John Wick 3”, which Lerner says doesn’t being filming until early 2018.
“I said what does this have to do with us? We’re going to start 14th of October and we’re going to be done by Christmas,” added Lerner.
Deadline spoke with Reeves’ lawyer as well as two additional sources, all of whom claim that “any deal with the actor was contingent on the cast” and that the deal had never been finalized.
“That’s a lie,” Lerner told Deadline. “There was a deal. It was not contingent on cast. We agreed to go over to whomever he wanted to go to. First it was Antonio Banderas, then Gary Oldman. Keanu led us to believe that he was doing the movie. I’ve done 400 movies in my life. We are not going to pre-production if there was not a deal. They knew we were spending money. There was a deal. There was not a signed deal, but we agreed on every point. A verbal agreement is an agreement. I’ve done so many movies. It’s a contract, unless it’s to do with chain of title. We saw the deal on paper. Why should anyone get away with this?”
According to Lerner, Reeves’ 11th-hour exit “left us with a big hole of money we already spent and now we have to fire everyone.”
The sum, he added, was well over a million dollars. “I maybe will ask the legal system in America to go in there to pay us back,” he said. “Maybe [Reeves] will be smart enough to pay us back, I don’t know.”
However, Reeves’ lawyer disputes Lerner’s account.
“We did not have a closed deal, and there were several material open deal points,” attorney Scott Simms told Deadline. “Casting contingency was one of the open deal points so every deal point was not agreed upon, and we did not have signed paperwork. We did not have a verbal agreement on this film.”
Regardless, Lerner says that Reeves has left his company high and dry, and it’s not the first time this scenario has played out in Hollywood. “These actors do this all the time but they have no feel for the crew, and they get their lawyers and their reps to protect them,” he said. “Someone needs to talk to him and tell him that you should not do these things to people. It’s not fair and it’s not nice. I don’t care what they think, I tell the truth.”