It’s a movie about a video game, but it’s not inspired by any one video game. So perhaps it’s only natural that the movie Free Guy, about a video game AI character that gains sentience, stars an actor who doesn’t claim to be a massive gamer.
Actor Joe Keery, best known as Steve Harrington in Netflix’s Stranger Things (also directed by Free Guy director Shawn Levy) plays a character named Walter “Keys” McKeys, a genius coder and game architect who works for video game company, Soonami.
Although Keys is deeply entrenched in the world of video games, Keery on the other hand is far from a gamer. When asked if he calls himself a gamer, the 29-year-old actor gave a little chuckle and admitted to just playing games “here and there”.
“I’m not a massive gamer, but I’m familiar with it,” shared Keery in an exclusive interview with Geek Culture. “I play Civilisation and a bunch of games on the N64 (Nintendo 64) but I guess my experience with those games didn’t really come into play with Keys at all.”
Despite not being a gamer, Keery enjoys the little nods to the gaming community in the movie, like people running into the wall and of course, cameos here and there (of which, there are plenty in this movie).
So what did Keery bring to the table if not his experience – or lack thereof – with games? Easy. Heart.
“Keys lacks confidence in a lot of ways. When we find them at the top of the movie he’s kind of disillusioned and disheartened and has kind of given up going after the things that he is interested in, believes in. But that was a great place to start the movie because then it gives a really nice springboard for the rest of the arc to unfold,” shared the 29-year-old actor.
While Guy (Ryan Reynolds) might be the lead character in the film, those who watched the film would know that Guy’s in-game code and design was orchestrated by Keys, who based Guy on himself – which means that Guy and Keys are pretty much the same character. A video game movie that aims to be a reflection of life and the human experience, Free Guy is, if anything, a fastball of joy.
Whilst critics and excited fans can rave about how funny the movie is, no one had more fun filming it than the actor, who gets to film some key (ahem) moments with co-star Jodie Comer, who plays his friend Millie in the film. And working with Comer was one of the many amazing moments he had filming on set.
“Working with Jodie, specifically on that scene when I show up at her house and we kind of were talking about Guy, I’ll definitely remember that moment and, and working with Jodie because she’s so kind and down to Earth and giving in such an amazing actress too.”
Apart from working with Comer, Keery’s greatest joy is working with Taika Waititi. In fact, he couldn’t stop gushing about working with the Kiwi director and actor.
“Oh man, I have a lot of amazing moments. Doing all that cop stuff was amazing. I mean, those days were fast and the first few days I worked with Ryan so I’ll have great memories of that..obviously working with Taika, all those days at Soonami was really fun,” laughed Keery.
“Working with Taika is just hard not to [break out of character] because he’s just a mile a minute. He’s got so many amazing ideas and is not afraid of failing, he’s down to try anything! We’re constantly being surprised.”
“No take was the same so it was a lot of fun and mayhem.”
Catch Joe Keery as Keys McKeys in Free Guy, now out in cinemas.