• Jeff Daniels struggled with how to film Harry’s death scene in 1994’s
  • The actor ultimately drew inspiration from an iconic Roy Scheider scene in
  • Even 30 years later,
    remains a thrilling watch with fun performances and exciting action.

Speed star Jeff Daniels recalls struggling while filming Harry’s death in the hit action movie and the revelation that made the scene finally work. Released in 1994, Speed stars Keanu Reeves as Jack Traven, an L.A. cop who finds himself aboard a bus that will explode if it drops below 50 mph. Harry serves as Jack’s partner throughout the film and heads the search for Dennis Hopper’s bomber, but the character eventually meets his end when he storms into a house rigged with explosives.

During a recent interview on The Rich Eisen Show, Daniels reflects on filming Harry’s death scene in Speed and how the moment was proving troublesome.

According to Daniels, a scene from Jaws ultimately held the key to making Harry’s big moment work. Check out the actor’s full comment below:

“I remember getting the script…and I died on page 22. I died in the elevator shaft. I said, you know, ‘the career’s in trouble but it’s not in that much trouble. I’m gonna pass.’

“And the agent said, ‘Hang on, there’s another draft coming. You die later.’ I said, ‘Okay,’ and it did. It came in about page 80. I’m going, okay well… All right I’ll do it. And Keanu and Sandy Bullock, and it’s like okay, happy to do it.

“And I get into the house. We’re in somewhere…south of L.A. and I’ve got full S.W.A.T. gear on. It’s like 80 pounds of whatever and I’ve got to crawl in through a little window and look like Harrison Ford doing it. And I’m catching on the window frame and all of that.

“I finally get in, and the moment in Speed is I’ve got to turn and look at the thermostat and understand that that’s not a thermostat, that’s a timer for a bomb and it’s 3, 2, 1 about to blow up. So I’m going, ‘How am I gonna do that?’ Do I make faces? Do I cry? What do I do?

“And I remembered an interview that Roy Scheider did for Jaws. And they asked Roy, ‘That moment, Roy, when you saw the shark…how did you do that?’ And Roy said, ‘Well, I looked down and when I looked over at the shark I made sure my cheek muscles were a little up and then I just dropped them.’ So I said that’s what I’ll do.

“So I looked at the thermostat [mimes dropping his cheek muscles]…’Cut! Lunch.’


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Why The Keanu Reeves Movie Is Still An Exciting Watch

Keanu Reeves as Jack Traven in Speed

With the success of the John Wick franchise ushering in something of an action renaissance for Reeves, it’s worth remembering that Speed, along with 1991’s Point Break, was one of the key films that first established him as an action star. The premise is one of the best high-concept action movie ideas of all time, and director Jan de Bont ultimately made a film that totally delivers on it. Even 30 years later, the movie is tense, thrilling, and a fun action throwback.

Reeves is perfect as Jack, imbuing the character with his signature likability and coolness, while also nailing the physicality that the role required. The performances from Bullock, Daniels, and an over-the-top Hopper are also fun. As for the action itself, the scenes aboard the bus remain the most exciting, and there are some notable stunts as the characters struggle to keep the vehicle above 50. The opening action scene in the elevator and the ending train sequence are also intense, however, and Harry’s death comes as a shock.

Bullock would return as Annie in 1997’s critically-panned
Speed 2: Cruise Control
, but Reeves did not reprise his role as Jack.

If there’s one moment from the film that doesn’t totally hold up it’s the bus jump across an incomplete section of freeway. The physics of the ordeal don’t totally make sense and the feat is obviously completely unrealistic, but it ultimately doesn’t feel totally out of line with the rest of the film. While Speed is now three decades old, it remains a seminal movie in the action genre, and it’s evidently for the best that Daniels decided to join the cast as Harry.

Source: The Rich Eisen Show


In Jan de Bont’s 1994 action thriller Speed, LAPD officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) works alongside passenger Annie (Sandra Bullock) to safely stop a bus that will explode if it goes below 50 mph.

Jan de bont

Release Date
June 10, 1994

20th Century

20th Century

Graham Yost

Dennis Hopper , Sandra Bullock , Joe Morton , Jeff Daniels , Keanu Reeves

116 minutes

Speed 2: Cruise Control

$30 million

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