"We're movin'," he says.
"This better be worth it, this sandwich," I say.
"I don't know," he says. "I've never been there."
"Who told you about it?"
"A friend of mine," he says.
"A famous friend?"
Keanu pauses for three comically perfect seconds.
"Really famous," he says.
In his blazer pocket he's got a pack of American Spirits. We talk about his smoking habit. "It was an outcome of having to smoke on a film," he says. "I got hooked making a film. Feeling Minnesota. I didn't start smoking until I was 30. Now I'm just in prison."
"You should stop," I say.
"You're right," he says. He is capable of an irony that hangs in the air, like incense.
Keanu takes a bath with Charlize Theron in Sweet November.
He remains stoic in his refusal to talk about his personal life. (There are reasons to remain stoic. In 1999 he lost a daughter with his girlfriend, actress Jennifer Syme; the baby was stillborn. Almost two years later Syme died in a car accident in Los Angeles. To ask him about these things would seem merely cruel.) Later in the day Keanu notices the query GIRLFRIEND? scribbled on a page of my legal pad. He answers, politely and preemptively, like this: "No."
"No you don't have a girlfriend or no you don't want to get into it?"
"No," he says. "All of its implications." (Recently, for what it's worth, the rumor mill has tethered him to Parker Posey.)
He will talk a bit about his motorcycle accidents. He has veneers on a couple of teeth. "I think they smashed against the handlebars. I don't really remember," he says. "Shock works. I mean, when you fall off a bike you're pretty much in shock. You're sitting on the ground, blood's pouring out, but it doesn't really hurt. Heh heh. I mean, it's not like my arm is hanging off."
"Break On Through" starts playing on the car radio.
"How do you feel about the Doors?" I ask him.
"The Doors rock," Keanu says.
"Do you mean that?"
"I do," he says. "Nothin' like 'em."
"There's nothin' like Ray's organ sound," I say, "but I think Jim was kind of a buffoon."
"Listen to that voice," Keanu says. "He went for it. Showmanship. Showmanship! The shamanism. The shamanisticus. The frontman. The frontman. The front of the band. Rockin'. I think we have to get off this street."
"'When to the sessions of sweet silent thought,'" he intonesvery quickly, and in a cadence that calls to mind a surfer having a panic attack, "'I summon up remembrance of things past / I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought / And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste.'" Here in the rental car Keanu is reciting, from memory, Shakespeare's Sonnet 30. He also reels off 116 and 119 while we wait at a stoplight.