Home » Keanu Reeves Turned Down The Lead Role In Platoon Because He Didn’t Want To ‘Do Violence’

Keanu Reeves Turned Down The Lead Role In Platoon Because He Didn’t Want To ‘Do Violence’

The question “What if?” can lead you down some interesting rabbit holes if you’re interested in Hollywood history. For example, what if Michael J. Fox didn’t play Marty McFly in the “Back to the Future” movies? Or what if Robert Downey Jr. didn’t get the role of Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? And what if Shrek was voiced by a different “Saturday Night Live” alum? If you look around the internet, you can find some fascinating answers to these questions. In fact, if you look hard enough, you may even be able to peer into the multiverse and get a glimpse of Eric Stoltz in Marty’s iconic orange vest or the late, great Chris Farley as the multi-layered ogre.

If alternate cinema history like this interests you, then here’s another fun fact: Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone initially had a few other up and coming movie stars in mind for “Platoon,” his 1986 masterpiece about soldiers in the Vietnam War, including a Keanu Reeves that had yet to find his breakout role to launch him into superstardom. However, the director once recalled the extremely ironic reason why the young actor had passed on the role that ultimately went to Charlie Sheen.

‘Proof’s in the eyes, man. When you know, you know.’

In a 2011 interview with Entertainment Weekly celebrating the 25th anniversary of “Platoon,” Oliver Stone confirmed that “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Edward Scissorhands” star Johnny Depp, Kyle MacLachlan of “Twin Peaks” and “Dune,” and Keanu Reeves were all up for the role of U.S. Army volunteer Chris Taylor. While Depp ended up playing a different soldier since the filmmaker “clearly believed he was going to be a star,” Reeves turned the role down because “he didn’t want to do violence.”

Obviously, this is wild to think about because the actor is now synonymous with violent movies like “The Matrix” and “John Wick.” As a bonafide 1990s action star, you couldn’t go to the movies or the video rental store without seeing Reeves in another adrenaline-fueled thriller with various levels of violence. Although, since Stone was filming in the Philippines in 1986, this was well before Neo, Jack Traven, or Johnny Utah were added to Reeves’ body of work. It’s possible that he wanted to branch out and try different things like “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” or “Parenthood” before taking on more physically demanding roles.

Still, in the end, it worked out for everyone involved. Reeves has become a national treasure with a number of beloved classics on his resume. As for Stone, he stated that Charlie Sheen was the perfect person for the role because he was “perfectly wide-eyed and had a vaguely privileged look.” As the character in the movie that was basically the avatar for the director’s real-life experience during the Vietnam War, the “Wall Street” and “Major League” star properly “conveys the horror of the place,” which ultimately benefitted the acclaimed feature on its way to winning the Oscar for Best Picture in 1987.

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