Ali Wong Assures Keanu Reeves Is a 'Sweet, Professional Guy’ — Not Jerk from Always Be My Maybe
The actor plays a heightened version of himself in Netflix's new romantic comedy
Warning: Spoilers below for Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe
As the love interest of Ali Wong’s character in the new romantic comedy, Reeves, 54, plays an intense, heightened version of himself who had a childhood crush on Mother Theresa, enjoys an “apocalyptic” version of Truth or Dare, and can list off Chinese dignitaries.
“The part where he’s listing off all those Chinese dignitaries, that was his idea,” Wong, 37, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “And then the part where he’s like, ‘I don’t have a problem Sasha, what’s your problem?’ and starts air fighting, he improvised that as well.”
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Although he played himself, Wong insists the real Reeves differs greatly from the fake-glasses-wearing, vase-smashing superstar he portrays in Always Be My Maybe.
“He’s a funny, sweet professional guy who’s really like about the work,” Wong says. “And so much so that it wasn’t intimidating. He was very approachable.”
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The comedian initially approached Reeves because she wanted all of her character Sasha’s love interests to be Asian-American men. And she succeeded. Along with Reeves, Daniel Dae Kim plays her famous restaurateur fiancé, and Randall Park plays shy rocker Marcus — Sasha’s one that got away.
“It was really important to me that all of her love interests were Asian-American. And we wanted to find a sexy Asian-American man who would be Marcus’ worst nightmare if he decided to confess his feelings,” Wong, married to entrepreneur Justin Hakuta since 2014, says of casting Reeves. “In everything I do it’s very important to show my attraction and desire towards Asian-American men.”
And it turned out that the Matrix star was a fan of Wong’s standup. After they met at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles to discuss the part, Reeves shot Wong a sweet note to accept the role. Wong reveals, “He wrote, ‘I would be honored to be a part of your love story.’”
But it’s her longtime friend and collaborator Par, 45, who helped Wong establish a vision for the film — their take on a modern-day When Harry Met Sally.
“I’ve known him since I was 21,” Wong says of Park. “I don’t really know how exactly we became friends, but I guess ever since we met throughout the years we just always stayed in touch and always found a way to collaborate creatively together. We have such creative chemistry and a rapport and a similar sense of humor. We always wanted to do something where the people were friends for a long time.”
Always Be My Maybe is playing now in select theaters and is streaming on Netflix.