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Casting Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077 made Johnny Silverhand "more relatable and complex"

(Image credit: CD Projekt)

I'm still reeling from the fact that Keanu Reeves plays Johnny Silverhand (opens in new tab) in Cyberpunk 2077 (opens in new tab). If you'd told me about it a year ago, I would never have believed you, but now that I've seen the breathtaking light, I wouldn't have it any other way. As Cyberpunk story director Marcin Blancha explained in the latest OXM (opens in new tab) issue, neither would CD Projekt Red. 

"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," Blancha said. "When we thought of an actor for this role, we didn't approach it on a 'who's the biggest celebrity right 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."

Just as voice actor Doug Cockle helped define Geralt in The Witcher series, Blancha says Reeves has helped shape Johnny into a stronger character. "I think that history played a role in how Johnny finally turned out," he said. "A good actor - and Keanu is a great actor - will 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." 

Cyberpunk 2077 characters

(Image credit: CD Projekt RED)

Check out the updated bios for these Cyberpunk 2077 characters (opens in new tab), including several gang leaders.  

In addition to Johnny's growth as a character, Blancha also discussed his role in Cyberpunk 2077, which is as critical as it is vague. We know Johnny's a major player, but we don't know exactly how. Mike Pondsmith, creator of the Cyberpunk tabletop RPG that Cyberpunk 2077 is based on, put it best when he said "he's worse than Elvis in that he was incredibly popular, and then disappeared and no one knows what's happened to him." 

Fortunately, Blancha shared a bit more on Johnny's history and personality. "Johnny is what they call a 'Rocker Boy', a charismatic and influential leader that has it in for 'The Man' and has a background in the military, from which he deserted for personal reasons," he said. "He was also a member of the rock group Samurai, which has become a symbol of resistance for many in Night City. He has also run a lot of corporate espionage in the past, and looks set to do a little more." 

Head here (opens in new tab) for more on the Cyberpunk issue of OXM. Find out where to buy OXM near you (opens in new tab) with this store finder. Don't fancy walking to the shops? Get OXM delivered directly to your door every month, with some great savings on an OXM print subscription. (opens in new tab)

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature.