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Johnny Silverhand Almost Looked Completely Different

CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 has been out for a little over two months, and it has certainly caused a scene. The number of bizarre bugs and performance issues found in the game have prompted retailers to offer refunds and CDPR has apologized for the state of the game. However, one element that fans and critics alike seem to agree on is that Johnny Silverhand is pretty rad. In the game, this rockstar-turned-techno-spirit is played by Keanu Reeves and is modeled on the actor's likeness. However, before Reeves was cast in the role, the character looked very different. 


Concept art for Cyberpunk 2077 has been uploaded to the ArtStation profile of Lea Leonowicz, Senior Concept Artist & Coordinator at CD Projekt Red. The images don't have much of an explanation behind them, but they appear to be from before Keanu Reeves was officially attached to the project. This take on Johnny Silverhand has a much harsher facial expression than the zen-like Silverhand portrayed by Reeves.

Although the original pass at Johnny Silverhand lacks a clear resemblance to Keanu Reeves' star quality mug, there are still plenty of similarities to the final version. For one thing, it seems as though Johnny's fashion sense was nailed down pretty early on. This early iteration of Johnny is rocking the same vests, tank tops, and sunglasses that the game's depiction of the character would ultimately wear. He also has the same long black hair, although the concept art features more of a "rocker mullet" style. What's most notable about this concept art is that Johnny is covered in scars, presumably an echo of his fateful run-in with Adam Smasher.


The designs that may truly surprise fans of Cyberpunk 2077 are further down the page on Leonowicz's profile. These are marked as the "first sketches" of the character, and some of them feature a much more youthful and rebellious-looking take on Johnny Silverhand. The first of these sketches looks like he would fit right in as a member of Motley Crüe, rocking a studded leather jacket and an even shaggier hairstyle. Another has more of a glam rock vibe, with a bandana and a boatneck shirt. It's a good look, but it seems like Johnny Silverhand gave up on sleeves rather early in the design process, paving the way for the tank top-wearing badass of the final game.

Ultimately, Keanu Reeves ended up bringing a lot of his own style and attitude to his motion-capture performance as Johnny Silverhand, and the results were pretty "breathtaking." Still, these concept sketches are an interesting look at what could have been.