From Cyberpunk to Keanu Reeves: This is the unpublished origin story of Johnny Silverhand

I think I might still be recovering from Keanu Reeves walking on stage at the Xbox E3 2019 press conference to talk about Cyberpunk 2077 and his character, Johnny Silverhand. If you're not au fait with the Cyberpunk lore and are wondering who Keanu Reeves is playing in Cyberpunk 2077, or just want to know more about this mysterious character, you need to hear what Cyberpunk creator, Mike Pondsmith, told us in an interview at E3 2019

Although it looks like your character, V, will be haunted by the digital ghost of Silverhand, the character is one of the core players in the long-running Cyberpunk story - created by Pondsmith himself - as the physical entity of Silverhand is long gone. Although Silverhand technically first appeared in the Cyberpunk 2013 supplementary booklet, Welcome to Night City, within the mini-adventure Never Fade Away, Pondsmith actually wrote an origin story for Silverhand that was never published. So here it is, straight from Pondsmith himself: 

"So, the first Johnny story is actually the first story I ever wrote for the Cyberpunk game. It’s called 'The Punk and the Parking Space', and basically, Johnny is driving a moped, a kind of like… do you remember The Who Quadrophenia moped? He’s driving a Quadrophenia-type moped, with flyers and stuff on it like that," explains Pondsmith. 

"He’s about to pull into this parking space, and this guy in essentially a 23rd-century version of a Porsche zips in ahead of him and takes his space. And basically, as the story goes, the guy in the Porsche, who bought a new Porsche, got out and looked at Johnny and smirked."

"And the punk [Johnny] pulled up a large silver handgun and shot out all four tyres. And as the culprit staggered back against his car, the punk said, 'Since you liked the parking space so much, you should keep it' – and walked away."

"And that was Johnny. That was the birth of Johnny right there."

So there you have it folks, Johnny Silverhand has been a badass from his very inception in the Cyberpunk lore, which involved a very British-sounding moped… And if you're wondering exactly what Pondsmith thinks of Reeves' casting, well he "thinks it's going to be fun". 

"Johnny is all about the internal, and he’s not really a hero character. And he's not a nice dude. He's a torn man with PTSD; a kind of grumpy as hell dude who is just frighteningly charming, but there's this wall, right?" adds Pondsmith. "You see him, but you don't know anything about him."

"And the thing is, Reeves does the wall in a different way. He does it by being basically kind of opaque. So you never have a sense – and I notice this in how he’s doing Johnny now - you have no sense of what’s really going on in Johnny’s brain, and he’s never going to let you."

Cyberpunk 2077 hits PS4, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadia on April 16, 2020, but until then, why not check out the most exciting new games of 2019 and beyond...

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.