Xbox kept Keanu Reeves' Cyberpunk cameo a surprise with a codename and stand-in

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Credit: Microsoft

Keanu Reeves' breathtaking cameo on the Xbox E3 2019 stage for Cyberpunk 2077 was a huge surprise, which is a rare thing for big stunts like that in the glitz of modern E3. Keeping the entire operation secret in an industry more prone to leaks than a Wiffle Ball water balloon was a complex operation, according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer.

Spencer told Variety that people involved with running the presentation exclusively referred to Reeves via a codename in conversations leading up to his surprise appearance. In rehearsal presentations he was replaced by a stand-in, only ever setting foot on Microsoft's stage during the live event at E3 2019. In fact, Reeves' green room was next to Spencer's, and they had a chance to chat before and after the actor took the stage.

"I was talking to him before he went out and I was trying to explain that this isn't going to be like another corporate gig," Spencer said. "I said, 'You're going to go out there and the fans are going to go crazy.' And he's like, 'Oh, that's cool.'"

CD Projekt Red developers were showing Reeves the game in his green room before he stepped straight out onto the stage and the audience exploded. Even for somebody who's used to people saying "OMG that's Keanu Reeves" wherever he goes, it sounds like he was taken aback by his reception (in a good way).

"I think he was kind of blown away by the response," Spencer said. "And I loved how we just wallowed in it. and then when he came back off he was just like, 'wow.' [...] They were so nice to him and everything, he was really blown away, which I thought was cool."

Check out our rundown of E3 2019 games to see all the biggest announcements from the event, or watch our latest Release Radar video to see what's up in games and entertainment this week.