Keanu Reeves Turned Down A Role In The Greatest War Movie For A Bizarre Reason

Keanu Reeves turned down the lead role in Platoon because he did not want to "do violence."

By James Brizuela | Published

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Keanu Reeves might be one of the bloodiest actors these days, as he has appeared in roles like Neo from The Matrix franchise and John Wick in the franchise of the same name. However, he once turned down the leading role in the war epic, Platoon, as he stated he didn’t want to “do violence.” Clearly, the man’s mantra has changed since the 1980s, as he is the lead in arguably one of the most violent franchises.

Oliver Stone made Platoon a war movie that has been talked about for decades, and the role that was initially meant to be for Keanu Reeves would eventually go to Charlie Sheen. Things worked out better for the movie with Sheen, as he was able to capture the wide-eyed role of a private in the Vietnam War a bit better than we think Reeves could have. That is not to say that Reeves wouldn’t have made that movie amazing, he just might not have been able to capture the entitled and scared young army man in the same way that Sheen did.

Platoon follows Charlie Taylor, a young recruit who has just been shipped into Vietnam War and joins the 25th Infantry Division near the Cambodian border. Taylor soon realizes that war is certainly not what it is supposed to be, as he is blamed when a nightwatchman is asleep, resulting in his platoon being ambushed. Taylor is hit in the next and sent back to base to recover when he discovers the pot-smoking crew of Sergeant Elias, who might have benefitted from having an actor like Keanu Reeves in the group.

charlie sheen platoon

Platoon is highly regarded as one of the best Oliver Stone movies, and the epic scene where Willem Dafoe’s Sergeant Elias is gunned down after running through the jungle full of enemies is one of the most iconic in cinema history. We are not sure if Keanu Reeves would have been better or worse in the situation where he had to call out to Elias, but it is interesting to think about the landscape of the movie changing with him in the lead role. Reeves would have certainly played the part of the stoner much better, as he had plenty of experience portraying that type of character in the Bill & Ted movies.

The fact that Keanu Reeves did not want to portray a role because of the violence in the movie is also something that changed quite quickly. Though the previously mentioned Bill & Ted movies happened in the 1980s, which contained no violence, he would transition to action-packed roles in the 1990s like Johnny Utah in Point Break and Jack Traven in Speed. We guess he figured out that he was better in the violent roles that he previously blew off.

Keanu Reeves is set to return to the John Wick universe when John Wick: Chapter 4 releases on March 24th. We are incredibly glad that he chose to get into the more violent roles, as we are sure that the John Wick franchise would not be the same without Reeves behind the guns. Still, it would have been interesting to see Reeves as the doe-eyed private in Platoon.