TOKYO - Keanu Reeves is known to be a man of few words.
The Canadian actor reportedly answers questions with brief sentences. And he hardly smiles in public, gaining Internet fame for the viral "Sad Keanu" meme based on a paparazzi photograph of the sullen-looking star sitting on a park bench and eating a sandwich by himself in 2010.
A year later, a YouTube video showing him riding the subway train solo and giving up his seat to a woman also became an online hit.
True to his reputation, he was stony at the press conference for his new Hollywood samurai flick, 47 Ronin, Monday at The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Tokyo. The movie opens here on Dec 19.
His eyes darted quickly around the room before he took his seat among his co-stars, Ko Shibasaki, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano and Rinko Kikuchi, and director Carl Rinsch.
As Rinsch and the cast answered questions, Reeves, 49, wore a permanent intense gaze and appeared deep in thought until his turn came.
Then came the surprise.
When asked about his experiences on set and working with Japanese actor Sanada, Reeves gave an uncharacteristically lengthy answer and even threw in a joke aimed at his co-star ("I will try not to bring you down too much… with the fighting").
Turning serious again, he said: "For me to play a role in an adaptation as an outsider and then a samurai and ronin with people who try to reclaim their land and honour is very special and a great honour to me.
"To be able to tell the story and pay homage to the people who were part of this history and create a new world at the same time is very exciting."