Reeves has stated that he was not interested in the script but was forced into doing the film when his assistant Brian forged his signature on a contract. He performed the role rather than get involved in a lengthy legal battle. He was contractually prevented from disclosing this until 12 months after the film's US release.
Keanu Reeves disliked the movie so much he refused to do any press for the films release.
Third-billed Keanu Reeves gave his verbal agreement to director Joe Charbanic several years before production started, after reading his original script. With his involvement, the filmmakers were able to attract a bigger cast and budget than originally envisioned, and Reeves' part (originally little more than a cameo) was substantially re-written to feature him more prominently. Reportedly, Keanu Reeves, who would be paid scale while his co-stars James Spader and Marisa Tomei would get one million dollar paychecks, tried to drop out of the film, but eventually changed his mind (apparently influenced by the legal precedent of the Kim Basinger/Boxing Helena (1993) debacle). He eventually agreed to do the picture, and abstain from badmouthing it in interviews, on the condition that his involvement in the film be downplayed in all promotional material for the film, including trailers.
Keanu Reeves was contracted by the studio not to say anything negative until a year after the film's release. He waited the full year to publicly bash the movie and revealed how someone forged his signature on the contract to star in the film.
The Watcher was directed by Joe Charbanic, a buddy of Keanu who has also filmed the actor on tour with his rock band Dogstar.
In the opening scene, Keanu Reeves dances to the Rob Zombie song "Dragula" while doing kung fu moves behind green lighting. This is an homage to his previous blockbuster, The Matrix (1999).
During production, the film was called "Driven", but Universal decided to change the title to "The Watcher" when the Stallone racing drama with the same name was announced.
Universal reportedly paid $5 million to acquire the North American distribution rights of this movie.
The film caused a bidding war between Universal Pictures, the now defunct Destination Films and Warner Brothers when the distribution rights were up for grabs, courtesy of the pic's independent financiers. Universal ended up winning the rights, but only just edged out Destination Films, who were eager to bag the film and have a potential hit, since all of their earlier films had been box-office misfires.