SINGAPORE - It has been said that Hollywood star Keanu Reeves can be a difficult interviewee.
Notoriously private and introverted, the actor reportedly gets through most interviews with a few mumbles here and there, all the while looking uncomfortable and listless.
Either that, or he would turn the entire occasion into a philosophical session, rambling about big ideas in vague, pseudodeep terms - as if he were still Neo in The Matrix movies (1999-2003).
He does that somewhat in a recent interview with Life! for his new movie, Man Of Tai Chi, occasionally throwing up abstract concepts out of the blue.
But the boyishly handsome 48-year-old, who is visibly pudgier than before, is also keen and charming, eager to listen to questions and just as excited to answer them. Laughing easily, he vigorously flails his hands to re-enact certain scenes.
Despite looking tired, having flown in to Shanghai from Los Angeles the previous night for the first stop of an eight-city movie promotional tour throughout China, he is not daunted.
He rubs the lethargy out of his eyes a few times, sits up and cheerily clasps his hands together in enthusiastic anticipation for the interview to begin.
It is as if he knows he has a lot riding on Man Of Tai Chi, which opens in Singapore today. It is his directorial debut.
Speaking in his signature deep, almost monotone, drawl, he says with a grin: "This has been a long time in the making, you know - more than five years to develop. It's a little exhausting to be running around everywhere to promote it, but the pain is sweet because I know more people will get to learn about it.
"This is a story that I wanted to tell and I'm proud of it."