Hey, do you remember the 2000 thriller The Watcher? Shut up; no, you don’t. Nobody does. Not even James Spader, and he actually starred in it. It’s to be expected, though. Much like the decade that it premiered in, The Watcher has no real identity of its own. The plot revolves around an FBI Special Agent played by Spader who’s hunting a serial killer played by Keanu Reeves. But—and this must have been the part the Academy slept through—the unhinged Reeves is totally obsessed with Spader, taunting him and acting as if this whole thing was just a giant game (a game called Knife Tag.) It’s nothing we haven’t seen a thousand times before.
That’s probably why Reeves was never interested in the role. But he still did it because, apparently, a now-definitely-former friend forged his signature on a contract to appear in the film. Now, Reeves is a pretty stand-up guy, which is one of the many reasons why his portrayal of a serial killer just didn’t work, so he never revealed the name of the “friend,” but his identity didn’t matter. Reeves couldn’t conclusively prove that his signature was a forgery, so instead of dragging it out in court, he decided to just go ahead and spend a couple of months making the film, and boy does his lack of enthusiasm show.
A lot of people might not remember this, but before we all fell in love with Keanu Reeves, he was widely regarded as a wooden actor, and The Watcher definitely had a hand in shaping that opinion.
An interesting part of the story is the fact that the studio actually convinced Reeves to not fight the contract by excluding him from the marketing campaign and giving him permission to dump all over the film a year after it premiered. Almost exactly a year later, Reeves revealed the story of being tricked into making The Watcher, and the reason why this wasn’t bigger news when it first came out was that he waited 1 year and 3 days to talk shit about the movie, which premiered on September 8, 2000. You can do the math yourself.
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Top Image: Universal Pictures