When writer/director Matthew Ross (Frank & Lola) was approached by Keanu Reeves (The Matrix/John Wick franchises) and soon after was handed the script for Siberia; Ross became fascinated by the idea of exploring a more raw, vulnerable, emotional, and intimate aspect of Reeves as a performer. The story also caught the attention of the director as it was an intricate film that traversed multiple genres and not easily distinguishable.
Siberia revolves around American diamond merchant Lucas Hill (Reeves) as he journeys to Russia to sell rare blue diamonds to Russian boss Boris Volkov (Pasha D. Lychnikoff) but regrettably does not have the real diamonds in hand as his partner has gone missing with them and is left with counterfeit diamonds. During his time in Russia, Hill delves in a relationship with a small town local café owner Katya (Ana Ularu), while his wife Gabby (Molly Ringwald) is back in the states. The Siberia story was developed by Stephen Hamel (Passengers), screenplay by novelist Scott B. Smith (The Ruins), and directed by Matthew Ross.
“…exploring a more raw, vulnerable, emotional, and intimate aspect of Reeves…”
Many of the scenes involved Keanu Reeves and Ana Ularu. Chemistry is the first and one of the most important components that drive the success of any film. Ross shared, “Ana is a phenomenal actress. I was very lucky to have the chance to really rehearse with them prior to us going into production which was not an opportunity I had on Frank & Lola. While we were in Winnipeg, we had three or four days in which we spent several hours just the three of us alone in a room going through everything, making changes, making adjustments, blocking, understanding each scene; and of course, developing chemistry with each other and three of us together. The time that we spent doing that proved to be just a great choice and something that really paid off when we were shooting the movie because the chemistry of what they brought out in each other was pretty special.”
This film features a raw, unadulterated side of Keanu Reeves that the audience isn’t used to seeing. Those moments contain explicit sex scenes that are often a sensitive topic and must be handled with delicacy. “One of the tricks to making them work is to really develop a complete and utter trust between the actors so that they’re doing something that’s quite intimate and revealing; but psychological, personal, and physical. We developed that trust while we were rehearsing. When it came time to shoot those scenes, of course, have closed sets, so only the essential people are on the set. There’s no monitors or random people looking; it’s just the camera crew, sound people, and hair and makeup for resets. Want to create a very safe, closed, intimate, and trusting atmosphere on the set. That’s what one has to do in order to be able to get the actors to perform at their highest level. Those scenes that were shot were incredibly raw, emotional, and feel very real and that’s the goal from day one. The only way that they can give their all as a performer and not be self-conscious is for that trust to be developed,” expressed the director.
“…the chemistry of what they brought out in each other was pretty special.”
Ross concluded, “We were interested in exploring how people react when placed in extremely tense, life-threatening situations. We wanted to explore how sometimes an unexpected new relationship can reveal much about oneself. To see how an unlikely pairing could play itself out during an incredibly intense moment during the lead character’s life, which is the story of this movie.”
Siberia is a very intimate film that portrays the rawness and intimate side of Keanu Reeves like we’ve never seen before.