Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Untold Truth Of Matt Reeves

Some Hollywood directors live off the reputation of a singular film that brought them mainstream success. Others have powerful teams that ensure they're kept popular, no matter how many duds they've been involved in. Matt Reeves falls into neither category, as he's established himself as a bona fide hitmaker that dares to go bolder and grander than before.

Whether he reinvents "The Planet of the Apes" as a Shakespearean tragedy or dares to cast that guy who was in "Twilight" as Batman, he's a visionary who sees the bigger picture before most of us do. And judging by his track record of blockbuster success, he's been proven right more times than wrong. Reeves might come across as quiet and unassuming, but underneath lies one of the greatest creative minds of our generation. So let's peel back the curtain and find out more about the writer-director genius known as Matt Reeves.

The Jeph Loeb connection

To create a "Batman" film, a person needs to be well-versed in the history of the Dark Knight. This doesn't just come from the numerous movies that have been released over the years, but from the comics source material itself. For Matt Reeves, he discovered inspiration in the pages of "Batman: The Long Halloween" and its sequel, "Dark Victory," which erupted from the creative minds of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. They're now considered seminal pieces of Batman's lore. In what one can only describe as an act of kismet, Reeves discovered something else that was important about these books.

"It's so weird because I didn't know till I did all of this deep dive that it was literally my screenwriting teacher from USC — the person who told me that I should become a writer — Jeph Loeb, who wrote those stories," Reeves explained to Entertainment Weekly. Speaking further, Reeves revealed that it was Loeb who encouraged him to carry on in his screenwriting and filmmaking journey because he saw something special in him. Now, the cycle is complete, as the student finally became the master.

Matt Reeves initially turned down The Batman

The road to "The Batman" is a story worthy of its own documentary. From Ben Affleck's will-he-or-won't-he dance for several years to Batfleck's eventual departure from the Batcave and the pandemic derailing the production, it's almost a miracle that this film was even made. Yet, there was also another twist in the tale that most people don't discuss: Matt Reeves originally turned down the opportunity to direct the film.

When Warner Bros. approached Reeves with the chance to direct "The Batman," he was handed Affleck's original script, which he described to Esquire Middle East as "very action driven" and "very deeply connected to the DCEU." While he appreciated the validity of the script in the grand scheme of the shared universe and what had been established, it wasn't what he wanted to do and he headed over to Warner Bros. to reject the project in person. Once he was there, he explained to the execs how he would direct "The Batman" under one condition: he'd write the script and Warner Bros. would need to give him at least six months to finish "War for the Planet of the Apes." To his surprise, the studio gave him the thumbs-up and agreed to his pitch.

Let Me In reminded him of his childhood

One of the most surprising Matt Reeves projects was "Let Me In," the remake of the Swedish horror film "Let the Right One In." At the time, few thought the project was necessary, since it arrived only two years after the original; however, Reeves proved everyone wrong, delivering an emotionally poignant story that garnered an astonishing approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

As he told Emanuel Levy, Reeves' attraction to the film was deeply personal. The director instantly identified with the original novel, written by John Ajvide Lindqvist, and how it subverted the typical vampire story. "It really touched me," Reeves said. "Lindqvist and Tomas Alfredson, who directed the Swedish film, created a powerful metaphor for the turmoil of adolescence." Reeves wrote to the author, explaining how the book reminded him of his own childhood and stayed with him, only to find out that it was also influenced by Lindqvist's youth. Hopefully, though, neither of them had a bloodsucking friend.

Matt Reeves changed the script for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

As evidenced by his filmography, Matt Reeves only accepts projects that align to his creative vision. In an interview with IndieWire, he explained how he often seeks reasons to say no to blockbuster films due to his concern that he will "be consumed into the anonymous machine and it will suck out any specificity and point of view that you might hope to express." It was no different when 20th Century Fox approached him with "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."

Reeves divulged that the original script was more from the point of view of the humans, which didn't make sense to him since the first film helped showcase the world from the eyes of the apes. He encouraged the studio to continue telling Caesar's story and from the ape's perspective, rather than shift the narrative voice altogether. Reeves' wizardry in captivating studio execs worked like a charm, as they agreed to his direction and let him make the film he envisioned.

What happened to The Invisible Woman?

The breakthrough of "Cloverfield" helped put Matt Reeves on the map. Suddenly, Hollywood studios came knocking, asking him if he had any ideas and pitches for them. One of Reeves' passion projects was a story called "The Invisible Woman" (and no, this isn't an origin tale about Sue Storm). Reeves opened up to ComingSoon in 2011 about his intentions and who would have starred in the proposed film.

"Naomi Watts was supposed to do it, but she had a conflict and fell out of the project," Reeves said, adding that he still wanted to make the movie at some point. He further described it as an "intimate character story" and "a Hitchcockian suspense style" that explored the "anatomy of this one woman's desperation." Unfortunately, the film has yet to see the light of the day, but that's more likely due to how busy Reeves has been as both a director, writer, and producer over the years. Maybe one day, "The Invisible Woman" will appear.

Matt Reeves was a frontrunner for Man of Steel

While most fans view Zack Snyder as the original architect of the DCEU, that honor belongs to Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. It was the two of them who came up with a concept of how to reinvigorate Superman after a bout of writer's block on "The Dark Knight Rises," per The Hollywood Reporter. The fruits of their labor was the blueprint for "Man of Steel," though Nolan never had any intention of directing the feature since he had already spent nearly a decade in Gotham City's trenches.

In 2010, Deadline revealed that Warner Bros. narrowed down a shortlist of directors for "Man of Steel," featuring the likes of Tony Scott, Jonathan Liebesman, Duncan Jones, Matt Reeves, and Snyder. Nolan and his producing partner, Emma Thomas, were actively involved in selecting the director and the parties eventually agreed upon Snyder. Still, it's fascinating to think of how Reeves could have shaped the DC film universe a decade earlier, while now he's effectively creating its own standalone Gothamverse.

Robert Pattinson was always his Batman

It isn't uncommon for screenwriters to envision actors as they write their scripts. It helps to flesh out and strengthen nuances in the story as they visualize who should bring the characters to life. As Matt Reeves locked himself in his proverbial Batcave, he started to think about performances and actors who meshed with his version of the Dark Knight. The movie that instantly came to mind was "Good Time" by the Safdie brothers, as per Esquire Middle East – and more specifically, Robert Pattinson's remarkable turn as Connie Nikas.

"Rob had just been doing these amazing parts with these incredible directors, and showcasing all of these skills," producer Dylan Clark said. "'Good Time' was a movie we just marvel at. He's so real, he's so intense. There was an emotional arc, a trajectory that really resonated with us." It also helped that Pattinson had caught wind of "The Batman" and expressed his interest in the project (via Total Film), which instantly made the choice a lot easier for the people making the decisions.

He's childhood friends with J.J. Abrams

Hollywood is a cutthroat industry, but much like Batman, a filmmaker needs friends and confidantes, too. In Matt Reeves' case, one of his closest pals is director J.J. Abrams. Both of them seem to have a love for sci-fi and superheroes as their careers have run parallel to each other. That said, their friendship wasn't formed at an awards ceremony or industry convention, but further back in their lives when they were still children obsessed with the medium of film.

"We met in an 8mm film festival when we were thirteen years old," Reeves said to Collider. The two became fast friends and even created their own 8mm films. One of their movies picked up an award and was aired at the Nuart Theatre — an impressive feat that came to the attention of Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg, who hired the teenagers to transfer his old films to tape (via Vanity Fair). Talk about never knowing who is watching.

Enter The Twilight Zone (or maybe not)

Demonstrating that he was a master of horror in how he handled monsters ("Cloverfield") and bloodsuckers ("Let Me In"), Matt Reeves became a sought-out director for other spooky spectacles. Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone" was a property that entered the conversation next, as Warner Bros. wanted Reeves to breathe new life into the macabre franchise and take charge of a film, as per a 2011 Variety report. Unlike the show which featured several storylines, however, this was meant to consist of a singular tale. Leonardo DiCaprio was also set to be a producer on the film.

Sadly, there wasn't much movement on the project, so Reeves departed for "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." Despite the film recycling more directors and writers over time, it never got off the ground. However, "The Twilight Zone" made a return to the small screen in 2019, with Jordan Peele, Simon Kinberg, and Marco Ramirez serving as producers for a two season run.

The remake of John Carpenter's They Live

Look, the mere thought of anyone touching John Carpenter's "They Live" is sacrilege. It's sheer perfection and could anyone possibly replace the late "Rowdy" Roddy Piper? Well, considering how Matt Reeves managed to reimagine "Let Me In" without disrespecting the Swedish version or original novel, he would be a prime candidate to tackle a reinterpretation of "They Live" — and it nearly happened as well.

In 2011, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Reeves would helm a new version of the film for Universal Pictures. At the same time, the filmmaker insisted that it would differ greatly from Carpenter's classic (via The AV Club) and focus more on other elements from Ray Nelson's short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning" — the inspiration for the 1988 movie. Despite the announcement and surrounding buzz, Reeves' film seemingly never entered production and quietly disappeared into the void of unrealized projects.

Matt Reeves co-wrote Under Siege 2

Fact can be stranger than fiction, especially in the case of Matt Reeves. While he was still finishing up college, he and a friend decided to write an action spec script since the market was booming at the time (via Empire). The thought was that they'd use the money from selling the script to produce a student film. Unfortunately, the initially script didn't sell, but it was optioned and Warner Bros. bought it right as he gradated. The studio, though, had other intentions, deciding to tweak the script and make it the story for "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory," starring the founding father of Blue Steel, Steven Seagal.

Despite being associated with such a major franchise, Reeves saw his story as sharing more similarities with another rival action movie. "[It] was meant to be very much like a 'Die Hard' movie, which I guess 'Under Siege' really was too," he told Empire, "except the difference was that in the 'Under Siege' movies that tension is how soon before Segal will rip out someone's larynx." Point taken.

Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis are close friends

Christopher Nolan had Michael Caine, and Matt Reeves has Andy Serkis. Directors often love to collaborate with performers they respect and who say "yes" before they're even pitched on a production. For Reeves and Serkis, their time spent together on "The Planet of the Apes" sequels wasn't just about monkeying around but also forming a tight friendship.

Even before Reeves had cast Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth in "The Batman," Serkis admitted that he would gladly jump on board with him, telling JoBlo: "I'd go to the edge of the created universe with Matt. I mean, he's the most brilliant director. I would work with anything with him again, y'know, I mean, I absolutely adore him and we're very good friends, close friends, and I think he's an extraordinary director so for sure." If "The Batman" gets the sequel we all presume it will, chances are good that Reeves and Serkis will be spending a lot more time together in Gotham City.