Death Stranding could've starred Keanu Reeves, but Kojima "wanted Mads" instead

(Image credit: Kojima Productions)

While it might feel impossible now to imagine Hideo Kojima's head-scratchingly complex Death Stranding could star anyone other than Mads Mikkelsen opposite Norman Reedus, Kojima revealed at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 that originally, it was recommended that he considered Keanu Reeves for the role. 

"I originally was recommended Keanu Reeves but I wanted Mads," he said at the Master Storyteller panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, before being joined on-stage by film director Nicolas Winding Refn, who's also starring in Death Stranding as the elusive Heartman.

Discussing their different approaches to storytelling, Kojima acknowledged that regardless of whether his work receives praise or criticism, "you think about it ten years later".

"There's no reason to create something that's already there," he said (thanks Kakai Chik via wccftech). "I want to create something that gives more inspiration to the world. Like Hollywood movies where some don't live with you, people just digest and consume. What I do is make something that's difficult to chow down when you digest my work.

"What happens when I release my game or when Nicolas releases a movie, we get criticism or praise. But you think about it ten years later, same as Bladerunner or 2001: Space Odyssey."

Kojima further reflected on current trends in the industry, adding "the easiest thing for [him] to do" after leaving Konami to establish Kojima Productions as a standalone studio "would have been to make a game where everyone is on an island and shoots each other".

Death Stranding has had a flurry of activity in the last couple of months when we got a Death Stranding trailer, details on what the Death Stranding pre-order will get you, as well as enigmatic tweets about the fact that 'tomorrow is in your hands' according to the main man Hideo Kojima himself – all of which makes Leon wonder if making Death Stranding is "turning Hideo Kojima into a tired, lonely insect".

On the upside, Keanu "You're Breathtaking!" Reeves seems to be doing just fine despite being passed over for Mikkelsen, as his cameo in Cyberpunk 2077 should attest.

Death Stranding will release on PlayStation 4 on November 8, 2019. To keep you going, here's the cover art for both the standard and steelbook editions, which were also showcased at SDCC 2019 over the weekend:

(Image credit: Kojima Productions)

(Image credit: Kojima Productions)

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and stay tuned to @gamesradar for all the latest Death Stranding news, updates and analysis.

Vikki Blake
Weekend Reporter, GamesRadar+

Vikki Blake is GamesRadar+'s Weekend Reporter. Vikki works tirelessly to ensure that you have something to read on the days of the week beginning with 'S', and can also be found contributing to outlets including the BBC, Eurogamer, and Vikki also runs a weekly games column at NME, and can be frequently found talking about Destiny 2 and Silent Hill on Twitter.