Since adding The Rock to “the family” in Fast Five, Fast & Furious franchise general Vin Diesel has been on a mission to stack the franchise with even bigger and unexpected names. At two decades and ten films (and counting), the Fast universe has welcomed everyone from bonafide action stars like Tony Jaa to legendary dames Rita Moreno and Helen Mirren. The newly released Fast X maintains that momentum going, adding Brie Larson and Jason Momoa to the mix. But there’s one actor who would arguably be an ideal fit for Fast & Furious who has never quite made it into Dom Toretto’s family: Keanu Reeves.
In a May 22 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Reacher star Alan Ritchson revealed that the role he plays in Fast X was originally intended for Reeves. In X, Ritchson plays Aimes, the character who replaces Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody as head of the mysterious Agency. “It was just a little stroke of luck and good timing,” Ritchson said of his casting. “I was working on a movie with Hilary Swank up in Winnipeg in the freezing cold, and I got a call that things had shifted in the plans with Keanu Reeves, which is I think who was originally intended to play my part. Tough act to follow.”
Ritchson is not an A-lister like Reeves, but he is building a solid action resume of his own, playing the hulking titular hero in Amazon’s Reacher series. (He’s also played two superheroes— both Aquaman and Hawk on Smallville and Supergirl respectively). Still, the actor told EW that the role was almost recast yet again due to a blizzard that halted production in Canada.
Reeves’ name has been associated with the Fast franchise for years. Bringing the man behind Neo and John Wick into the fold would rank as one of Vin and co.’s biggest casting coups yet.When the Hobbs & Shaw spin-off was released in 2019, Entertainment Weekly reported that there was a plan for Reeves to appear in the film as a shadowy villain who is only heard and not seen, setting up his character as a future Big Bad. Director David Leitch confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that there had been conversations with Reeves about getting involved with the franchise, but that they wanted to ensure it was a substantive part, not “just a stunt casting role.” (Leitch directed the first John Wick film and executive produced the following three sequels.)
In 2019, Fast & Furious writer Chris Morgan told Screen Rant that he met with Reeves in the hopes of finding a way for him to become part of the franchise. (Morgan served as an executive producer on Fast X, and has been involved with the writing of several films dating back to 2009’s Fast & Furious.) “I wanted him to be in the Fast universe for a very long time… the hardest thing is always time and competing schedules and then designing the right thing together,” Morgan said. “My fervent desire is to bring him into this franchise for sure.”
The silver lining: there is still at least one more film in the franchise–potentially more–meaning a role could still be carved out for Reeves yet. But for what it’s worth, Ritchson, together with Momoa, is one of Fast X’s few genuinely bright spots. They’re the only two actors clearly having fun, chewing scenery and winking through the hammy dialog. A spot for Reeves amongst the family could be interesting, but in the case of this particular character, his understudy has been a welcome surprise.