CDPR: Johnny Is More Complex & Relatable Thanks to Keanu; The Actor Had to Have a Connection with Him
Johnny Silverhand, a major character in the Cyberpunk universe, was revealed at E3 2019 to be played by none other than Keanu Reeves in the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 game.
Speaking to Xbox: The Official Magazine (September 2019, issue 180), CD Projekt RED's Story Director Marcin Blacha described the thought process behind choosing Keanu Reeves as well as how the renowned actor of The Matrix and John Wick helped define Johnny's character in Cyberpunk 2077.
It’s a complex relationship, definitely something that will evolve and grow as you play. Johnny is an icon and a very powerful character, but—in their own way—so is V. Both will often butt heads, but I think they will also learn something from each other.
Keanu Reeves has this history of playing characters who fight for something and Silverhand is definitely fighting for something. Or at least he was in 2020. When we thought of an actor for this role, we didn’t approach it on a ‘who’s the biggest celebrity now’ basis —the actor had to have a connection with the character, so it made sense. Cyberpunk 2077 is not a game about Keanu Reeves, it’s a game about Johnny who is played by Keanu. I think it’s something often forgotten when casting for roles for games. Similarly, remember Emperor Emhyr in The Witcher 3? When we decided to cast Charles Dance, he just made sense for that role—he had this regal aura to him, also because of who he played in Game Of Thrones back then. I think that history played a role in how Johnny finally turned out. A good actor, and Keanu is a great actor, will always infuse their character with a bit of their own special thing. I think, thanks to Keanu, Johnny is more relatable and complex, but at the same time has not lost any of his original rebelliousness and punch.
Blacha also added that the developers are striving to always provide players with options regarding what's going on in the game.
We try very hard for the players to always have a say in what’s going on. We do that either through using dialogue to influence the situation or by simply giving players the freedom to move or look around during dialogue or cutscenes. Also, we try to never break immersion - in the 2018 demo, remember how we connected to the woman in the bathtub? Information was presented directly on the cornea. If you don’t use fast travel, there are no loading screens, too. Finally, there’s character creation, where we plan to give you options to create the V you can say is yours. From choosing a body type to facial features, hairstyles, skin tone, voice—there’s a lot there to play with.
Cyberpunk 2077 is out on April 16th, 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.