There is a scary aspect of Keanu, the idea of expected identity. It's a racial conversation you often touched on in Key & Peele. Have you encountered thinly veiled "act blacker" notes during your time in Hollywood?
Yeah. You hear it many different coded ways. "OK, let's get the tough version. Let's get the urban version. Do it a little bit more street this time." That's a very, very, very common thing in the industry. The reason this movie is a satire on the industry is that it's a couple of characters that aren't street enter into the heightened world of gangland, guys like [Keegan and me], who are real people, who fear death and have a soft spot for pets. How movie fans would fare in these heightened worlds of the cinema genres.
Part of the satire is that there hasn't really been guys like us allowed to be the leads of action movies or action comedies or crime comedy. You just wouldn't have us in there, and we wouldn't be in those movies. With our first opportunity to make a movie, we wanted to make something iconic, where all of a sudden you have a couple guys who aren't "street" but have a very certain special set of skills, which is the ability to adapt in the environment and do the code-switching thing.
Have you ever been up for roles in straightforward action movies?
None of the specific ones we talk about, but there have been a couple of action-movie auditions. If an African-American is in an action movie, we're either the baddest ass on the team, The Rock or Ice Cube, or the guy who maintains Hans Gruber's computer system. There's no in-between. Maybe we could also be the wisecracking best friend. There's this feeling like, "OK, I'll never be an action star. I'll never be in an action movie."
I think that about Game of Thrones. Kids must dream of being in these fantasy shows and movies, but Hollywood pictures the genre as predominantly white.
That's right! There are many worlds of film like that. In anything medieval, it almost feels like, "Gosh. That's a made-up world. How can there be no black people? How can that be a rule?"
They locked the one black guy in Game of Thrones up in a safe.
The prison system rearing its ugly head.
Now I feel bad. If you're on a flight tonight, you're going to miss the Game of Thrones premiere.
[And] I'm a fan. I have to admit, I am a couple behind in last season. My lady and I, it's been hard to get ourselves in the same place at the same time and in the mood to go back there. We have a little bit of catching up to do, so I'm still a couple weeks away from the premiere.
You've inevitably been spoiled.
"Is Jon Snow alive?" is permanently fixed in my mind. The one that got away.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
Matt Patches is Thrillist’s Entertainment editor. He previously wrote for Grantland, Esquire.com, Vulture, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Guardian. Find him on Twitter: @misterpatches.