Keanu Reeves Reportedly Saved One of His Best Films With A Script Suggestion

SPEED, Keanu Reeves, 1994
20th Century Fox/Everett Collection

One of Keanu Reeves‘ most popular films is Speed, which follows Reeves as a Los Angeles police officer named Jack as he and his partner Harry (Jeff Daniels), and a bus passenger named Annie (Sandra Bullock) aim to stop a bomb that will go off if the bus they’re on goes under 50 miles per hour. Joss Whedon, who helped with last-minute suggestions on the script, admitted that it was actually a suggestion from Reeves that changed the way his character behaved.

He explained, “[Reeves] talked about [doing research for the role by hanging out] with the SWAT guys and how they were unfailingly polite. [He said that] they’re only about defusing the situation, they call everybody ‘sir or ‘ma’am.’ It was like click — that was it. I understand this character now. My take on it was: He wasn’t a hot shot, he was a lateral thinker. He was going to do what felt right and have an odd approach to it, but generally speaking, it would work out. That ‘sir or ma’am’ gave me so much, because bluster [in action movie heroes] was the order of the day and this was the opposite. He also said, ‘I don’t want to pull my gun.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t want you to either, but you kind of have to. … [The studio is] not going to let you not pull your gun.’”

SPEED, Keanu Reeves, 1994,

20th Century-Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

While Reeves was responsible for this particular script change, he can’t take credit for one of the most famous lines of the film: “Pop quiz, hot shot!” Turns out, the original script writers can’t either. Whedon said that he did not make up the line, and the film’s originating writer, Graham Yost said that it wasn’t his idea either. So, who thought up the most recognizable line from Speed?

keanu reeves sandra bullock speed

Everett Collection

It was another script doctor who helped the project along, named Paul Attanasio. There is some controversy with the movie and its script because Yost was credited as the sole writer, even though several others worked on it and changed up the dialogue. This was all because of a new rule by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) when they stopped allowing the “additional dialogue” credit on movies.

What’s your take on the movie Speed? Tell us in the comments!

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September 2019

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