Now Reading
How Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock Revved Up for ‘Speed’

How Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock Revved Up for ‘Speed’

How Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock Revved Up for ‘Speed’

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock hurtled onto the A-list 30 years ago with the action hit Speed. Jan de Bont (Twister) made his feature directorial debut with the film about LAPD officer Jack Traven (Reeves) trying to prevent the detonation of a bomb rigged to blow up a bus unless it stays above 50 mph. Writer Graham Yost, who was working on kids TV at the time, started the script after his dad mentioned the 1985 Jon Voight-led Runaway Train, about a locomotive that loses its brakes — and its driver — and can’t slow down. Yost loved the concept but added a bomb and set it on a bus to introduce more complications. His script sold to Paramount before going into turnaround and landing at Fox, which put it on a fast track.

Reeves had stood out in films like Point Break, but there was uncertainty that he was the right fit until he impressed the team in person. As for Speed‘s female lead, it was initially written as Darlene, a Black ambulance driver who helps guide the bus. After Halle Berry turned it down, the role changed to chatty passenger Annie. Despite having few credits, Sandra Bullock was the immediate favorite. “When her name came up, everyone said yes,” Yost tells THR. A standout moment involves the bus jumping a freeway gap, with the stunt performed on an unfinished stretch of the 105 with only a driver strapped into the vehicle. “When the bus came down, the front tires blew out, and it just drifted off the road,” Yost recalls of the successful take.

After an early screening, Fox sensed the movie, co-starring Dennis Hopper as the bomber, was on the right path. “When people go to the bathroom walking out the theater facing the screen, you know there’s something special,” then-Fox exec Tom Sherak told THR at the time. Speed rolled into theaters June 10, 1994, making $350 million globally ($741 million today) and spawning a sequel without Reeves.

Late last year, Yost met with Reeves, Bullock and Speed producer Mark Gordon about a new project, leading the writer to reflect: “I’m going, ‘Thirty years ago, all our lives were going to change.’ ”

See Also
Controversial U.K. Politician Jacob Rees-Mogg Lands Show at Discovery+

This story first appeared in the June 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright © MetaMedia™ Capital Inc, All right reserved

Scroll To Top