Joss Whedon explains how Keanu Reeves helped to save the script for Speed with one simple observation of SWAT officers.
It’s been a little while since we last heard anything from Joss Whedon, but he’s popped back into the picture to discuss the best speeding bus movie of the ’90s. Of course, I’m talking about Speed, the iconic action movie starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Joss Whedon performed an uncredited rewrite of Speed, with some saying he actually wound up writing roughly 90% of the film’s dialogue, but it was a comment from Reeves that helped Whedon understand the movie.
Joss Whedon took part in the 50 MPH podcast, which details the making of Speed from the point of view of the cast and crew.
“[Reeves] talked about [doing research for the role by hanging out] with the SWAT guys and how they were unfailingly polite,” Whedon said. “[He said that] they’re only about defusing the situation, they call everybody ‘sir or ‘ma’am.’ It was like click — that was it. I understand this character now. My take on it was: He wasn’t a hot shot, he was a lateral thinker. He was going to do what felt right and have an odd approach to it, but generally speaking, it would work out. That ‘sir or ma’am’ gave me so much, because bluster [in action movie heroes] was the order of the day and this was the opposite. He also said, ‘I don’t want to pull my gun.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t want you to either, but you kind of have to. … [The studio is] not going to let you not pull your gun.’“
Given the amount of work Joss Whedon did on Speed, he thought he deserved a credit, but the Writers Guild would up ruling against him and Graham Yost was given sole credit on the film. The pair met for the first time at the Speed premiere and Yost recalled that he felt Whedon was blaming him. “Where things went bad between us is when he didn’t get any credit, and he was not happy when we ran into each other at the premiere,” Yost said. “And it was like he was blaming me. It was like, ‘Dude, that’s the WGA. Of course I’m going to write a letter saying I deserve sole credit. I sat with that thing for years. That’s my baby.’”
Joss Whedon remembered things a little differently. “Graham Yost came up to me the night it opened,” Whedon said. “Fox was having a little party on the lot because they were so excited, and we hadn’t met, and he came up, and we were polite and all, and he was like, ‘You know, man, you’d have done the same thing.’ And I was like, ‘Well, we can’t know that, can we?’ That got me. That really upset me, because it’s not true.“
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/speed-joss-whedon-script/