While certainly never being ignorant of the presence of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, the marketing campaign for the upcoming comedy Keanu has made sure that audiences know just how incredibly cute the titular kitten is. The tiny furball named after the star of The Matrix is central to the plot of the movie, and makes you coo every single time he’s on screen. What you may be surprised to learn, however, is that the original drafts of the movie didn’t feature a cat at all.
With Keanu set to arrive in theaters this Friday, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key this past weekend for a two-on-one interview in Los Angeles, and while we discussed many different aspects of the movie, one interesting subject that came up was the fact that Keanu didn’t initially feature a kitten. Instead, the original script – co-written by Peele and Alex Rubens – was more of your typical wild weekend comedy with Key’s Clarence having an adventure with his crazy cousin. Peele explained,
The original draft, the first draft of the script was centered even more around Clarence’s journey and his, you know, this idea that I’m his cousin who help him go on this fun weekend. I’m like the bad influence cousin that helps him find his bad boy, and we realized, we needed something sort of bigger than us to bring us through, so we would actually go into harm’s way, so that’s what Keanu came from and that was my side of the journey, and so then, you know, what’s left is this buddy comedy.
Keegan-Michael Key followed up by putting the early versions of Keanu in movie pitch terms – which is to say looking at it as a mash-up of other great titles. They found a core theme and message they wanted to get across, but it wasn’t until the kitten came into the picture that it found its hook. Said Key,
It started as like this sort of Three Amigos meets The Hangover, us in the world of New Jack City, and it was much more about finding yourself and finding your inner bad ass. The totality of who you are. But we needed, but what the most brilliant thing that he and Alex [Reubens] did is they clearly figured out and discerned that they needed a MacGuffin and then the kitten offers the perfect, perfect object.
The involvement of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key would have had us interested in Keanu even if it didn’t have a tiny kitty, but we certainly consider it a bonus.
Keanu arrives in theaters on April 29th.