CD Projekt Red’s biggest reveal from E3 was that Keanu Reeves would be in Cyberpunk 2077. It was an incredible moment for anyone who is a fan of Reeves or is looking forward to the new Cyberpunk game – an even bigger moment for the parts where those fandoms overlap – and according to the developer, they wouldn’t have anyone fill the role of Johnny Silverhand except Reeves. It was either going to be Reeves playing the character or else it would’ve been a traditionally voiced NPC.
Miles Tost, a senior level designer at CD Projekt Red who’s working on Cyberpunk 2077, spoke to Destructoid about the studio’s decision to have Reeves play a role in the game. Tost said that the goal for the character wasn’t to have any A-list Hollywood celebrity on board and that they thought Reeves would be a good fit for the role.
“It was either him or no one," Tost told Destructoid. "That was our mindset. We didn't think 'We need a star for this role,' but rather 'Hey, he might be the perfect character' and luckily I guess it all worked out for us.”
Tost continued to describe the relationship between the two parties and the decision from both to have Reeves play the role as “almost organic.” After designing the character and the story around the NPC, the studio felt it would be a “really cool” fit for Reeves to play the role.
Reeves obviously agreed to play the role as you can see in the trailer at the top if you didn’t catch it when it aired at E3. Tost has some ideas on why the actor might’ve agreed to the role.
“I'm just speculating, but he might've seen the similarities that we saw between him and [Johnny Silverhand] and that might've been attractive to him,” Tost said. “Besides, Johnny Silverhand, lead singer of the Samurai band, and one of the big rebels of the Cyberpunk universe. A legend. It sounds like a story that might be interesting to someone like Keanu.”
We’ll be hearing a lot from Reeves – or Johnny Silverhand, depending on how you prefer to look at the NPC – since he’s got the second most dialogue in the game. Reeves has since talked at length about his role in the game and said he doesn’t think games need celebrities to pitch in like he did for the medium to be legitimized.
Cyberpunk 2077 is scheduled to release for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC platforms on April 16, 2020.