Ever since some of the early trailers for Hideo Kojima's next game Death Stranding, actor Mads Mikkelsen has been shown as what looks to be one of the antagonists of the game despite Mikkelsen himself saying his character, Cliff, is not a villain. But no matter what Cliff ends up being, that role could have been played by John Wick star Keanu Reeves, as revealed by Hideo Kojima and director Nicolas Winding Refn at a San Diego Comic-Con 2019 panel.
The recommendation to use Reeves for the role that would ultimately be filled by Mikkelsen in Death Stranding actually came from Refn (director of the film Drive and TV series Too Old to Die Young). But it does not sound like the idea of using Reeves lasted very long, as Kojima had his eyes set on Mikkelsen from the start. At the San Diego Comic-Con panel where Kojima and Refn discussed storytelling and more details about Death Stranding, the two talked about how they first met and how that led to the possibility of Reeves having a role in the game.
Kojima first reached out to Refn because he was a fan of his movies, but also because he hoped that Refn could connect him with Mikkelsen for his new game. That was when Refn recommended Reeves for the role of Cliff instead of Mikkelsen, but as Kojima said at the panel, "I wanted Mads."
While he wasn't cast in Death Stranding, gamers know that Reeves is still taking a major step into gaming with his role in Cyberpunk 2077. Like the substantial role that Mikkelsen appears to have in Death Stranding, Reeves has far more than a cameo in Cyberpunk 2077 with news that he has the second most amount of dialogue in the game.
During the Comic-Con panel, Kojima and Refn also revealed more about the character of Heartman, a character to whom Refn lent his likeness to via face-scanning for the game. However, like Guillermo del Toro's character of Deadman, only Refn's face is being used for the character; a different actor is handling the voiceover work.
Death Stranding releases November 8, 2019 for PS4.
Source: Kalai (Twitter)