In Toy Story 4, Keanu Reeves voices a small Canadian action figure named Duke Caboom. Standing out amongst the iconic characters audiences already know and love in the Toy Story world isn't easy, but for daredevil Duke Caboom, with his maple leaf-themed costume, handlebar mustache, motorcycle, and various feats of over-the-top heroism and pageantry, it was no hard feat.
Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley told SYFY WIRE and other members of the press visiting Pixar Studios in Emeryville last month, that while Duke Caboom was created long before Reeves was cast, it almost felt as if the role were made for him.
"We went after Canadian actors, and he was the first one on our list and I'm so thrilled that he said yes," Cooley said. "He came here first just to meet with us before ever signing. And we were down in the atrium and he was like, [does Keanu Reeves impression], 'What do you think he sounds like?' And I'm like, 'Uh-huh.'"
According to Cooley, as Reeves was delving deeper into questions about the character's motivations and what "drives him," Reeves got up on the table where they were eating lunch and began pretzeling himself into various poses while making over-the-top action noises. In the film, Duke Caboom does the same thing, posing himself on top of his motorcycle with the use of his articulated joints. The match was almost too good.
Caboom is cool, though miles from the intensity audiences know from Reeves' role in the John Wick series. When he was brought in to voice the animated part, the contrast was clear. Cooley remembers: "He's like 'I'm filming John Wick 3,' and I'm like 'Oh, how's that going?' and he goes 'I got to kill a guy with a book.'"
Still, even without the hardcover hardcore scene, Reeves had nothing but fun with Toy Story 4.
"Every time we recorded with him, he just had the biggest smile on his face and it was just so much fun," Cooley said. "I can't speak enough about how fun he is."
"And we didn't know when we brought him here that he owns his own motorcycle company," producer Mark Nielson said. "The connection to motorcycles was not clear to us until we sat with him and we're like 'Whoa.'"
You can see Reeves in action as Duke Caboom when Toy Story 4 premieres in theaters on June 21.