Keanu Reeves is one of the most extraordinary actors of modern Hollywood. Of course, most people primarily know him as Neo from “The Matrix” trilogy, but he has so many other roles under his belt: both in blockbusters and independent films. He portrayed a cynical lawyer in the mystical thriller “The Devil’s Advocate”, a weird undercover detective in the animated film “A Scanner Darkly”, a mediator between Heaven and Hell, master of darkness in “Constantine” and the list goes on.
Keanu Charles Reeves
Meanwhile, Keanu is not just a talented actor, but also a surprisingly considerate, vulnerable and caring man with an outstanding personality, who deserves special attention.
Keanu Reeves was born in Beirut, the capital of hot Lebanon, to a geologist Samuel and a showgirl Patricia Bond. He is of mixed heritage and that is where he got his interesting looks from. His father is of Hawaiian and Portuguese descent and his mother has English and Irish roots. And such an unusual boy’s name came from Hawaiian and means “cool breeze over the mountains”.
Keanu’s father is half Chinese and half Hawaiian
Keanu’s father was quite an unconventional man, who had no higher education and got his GED while he was in jail for selling heroin. Two years after Keanu’s birth, his baby sister Kim was born, and soon after, when the boy barely turned three, Samuel abandoned his family.
After this mishap Keanu’s family moved to Sydney, and later relocated to New York, where his mom, who turned to costume design by then, married a Broadway director Paul Aaron (not to be confused with Aaron Paul). Only after that the Reeves family settled in Toronto – and Keanu considered hospitable Canada to be his homeland ever since.
Keanu with his mom Patricia Bond-Reeves
Later Keanu got two more little sisters from his mother’s marriage to rock music promoter Robert Miller: Karina Miller (born in 1976) and Emma Rose (born in 1980).
A childhood picture of Keanu with sister Kim
In Toronto the Reeves family lived across a music studio, where Alice Cooper was recording his album “Alice Cooper Goes to Hell» at that time. Weirdly enough the rock star remembered a young boy who listened enthusiastically to his rock motifs. “He liked loud music, but what were his parents thinking when leaving a child with Alice Cooper’s band?!” – the musician later recalled with laughter.
Keanu was a reluctant pupil and struggled in the majority of classes due to his dyslexia, which means that his perception of oral and written information was distorted. He had trouble with reading and writing and, as a consequence, couldn’t really study. As a result of his classmates’ bullying and teachers’ contempt he soon became very closed off and insecure, but managed to resolve his issues as he grew older.
Despite his dyslexia, Keanu Reeves used to play chess at a decent level and often challenged adults, charging them a dollar for every game.
Keanu’s school picture
Reeves attended four high schools within five years, including the acting school, from which he was expelled. He later attended a Catholic school for boys and after leaving it, started playing hockey and enrolled in a public school. His teammates even gave him a nickname “the wall” – he was that good of a goaltender and felt really confident on the ice rink. But the future actor dropped out of that school as well and did not get a GED.
Young Keanu Reeves
After that Keanu moved out of his parents’ apartment to the basement of his then-girlfriend Pam and began working part-time at three places at once: he sharpened ice skates at the local ice hockey rink, trimmed bushes in parks and cooked spaghetti at the Italian restaurant.
Keanu Reeves’ first roles
At 15 years old Keanu Reeves got his first role in “Wolfboy” a production of the local theater – Leah Posluns Theatre.
The play was criticized due to its “homosexual motifs”
In 1983 Keanu made his first TV appearance in a Coca-Cola commercial and also had a screen acting debut in an episode of typical teen series “Hangin’ In”.
In 1986 he got his first movie role in Peter Markle’s “Youngblood”, where he portrayed a goalie. After the movie’s release Keanu got a Green Card and moved to Los Angeles. His ex-stepfather, Paul Aaron, helped him to settle into the city and even found him an agent. The agent considered Keanu’s name to be too exotic and that is why the actor is credited as Noman Reeves, K.C. Reeves and even Chuck Spadina in his early works.
“Youngblood” – Keanu’s first movie appearance
Keanu’s work in a teenage drama “River’s Edge”, which premiered in 1986, got good critics reviews. He portrayed a high-school student Matt, having a moral dilemma: whether to tell the authorities about the murder of his classmate, that his friend committed or to keep the crime secret in order to protect their friendship. He starred alongside Dennis Hooper, which he later worked with in the action film “Speed”.
That same year Keanu was offered the role of Private Chris in Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” about the Vietnam War. But being a convinced pacifist, he turned it down, and the leading role went to Charlie Sheen.
Keanu Reeves in a comedy “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”
In the beginning of the 90’s Keanu’s name wasn’t just an empty phrase in film industry anymore. He let his charisma show in a historical drama “Dangerous Liaisons” alongside Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeiffer and John Malkovich, and in a teen comedy film “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” co-starring with Alex Winter.
“My Own Private Idaho”: Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix
In 1991 an action crime thriller “Point Break” came out, for which Keanu had to try his hand at surfing and, to his surprise, got really into it. That same year Gus Van Sant’s independent drama “My Own Private Idaho” premiered, where Keanu portrayed a rebellious Scott, who engaged in street prostitution as a form of protest.
Reeves had his big break in “Bram Stocker’s Dracula”, directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992. The young actor was cast as Jonathan Harker, who was a captive of a wicked vampire (Gary Oldman), who fell in love with his fiancée (Winona Ryder). In 1993 Keanu portrayed one of Buddha’s reincarnations in “Little Buddha”, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.
Keanu as the reincarnation of Buddha
In 1994 the actor was cast in his first real action thriller “Speed”. The plot of the movie follows Keanu’s and Sandra Bullock’s characters as they try to defuse the bomb, that was placed in the bus by a crazy terrorist, portrayed by Dennis Hopper.
First action thriller in Keanu Reeves’ career (“Speed”, 1994)
The movie became a great commercial success and Keanu got a $1.2 million paycheck. The picture was voted one of AFI's Top 100 Heart-Pounding Movies of all time (even though only at 99th place).
Keanu and Sandra Bullock gad a fling during filming
Keanu’s next iconic role was a lead in “Johnny Mnemonic”, based on the story by William Gibson. The film is set in an alternate future where Reeves – the “mnemonic courier” carries important data in his own brain. It is worth noting that initially the film was intended to be a psychological drama, but once “Speed” came out and instantly turned Keanu into an action star, Robert Longo, the director, added fighting and shooting scenes, that later led to Gibson’s dissatisfaction.
A snapshot from “Johnny Mnemonic”
In 1997 Keanu was offered $11 million for starring in “Speed” sequel, but he turned it down for a supernatural horror film “The Devil’s Advocate”, primarily so that he could be on set with Al Pacino. Reeves deferred a part of his salary so that a renowned Hollywood actor could join the project. As a result, Jason Patrick was cast in “Speed-2”, while the whole world watched a young ambitious lawyer sinking deeply into his vices, turning his life into a nightmare.
“The Devil’s Advocate”, snippet
“The Matrix”. New popularity milestone
Keanu Reeves obtained his true cult status as an actor only after the premiere of the first part of the cyberpunk trilogy “The Matrix” (1999), directed by the Wachowskis. His character, hacker Thomas Anderson, who goes by alias “Neo”, discovers that the reality is nothing but fiction, created by machines to enslave humans after the triumph of artificial intelligence. Disillusioned, Neo becomes one of the leaders in mankind’s struggle for liberation.
“Best fight scenes with Keanu Reeves
“The Matrix”, clever and dynamic, full of subtle references to worldwide cinema masterpieces, philosophical texts and even “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” together with the Bible, became the cult movie of the XX century, and almost signified a new era. “The Matrix” trilogy-based books were written, computer games and even anime were released. It’s funny that Keanu himself, even after the trilogy release, had no computer. But he was personally involved in costume and special effects production.
Neo is a cult Keanu Reeves’ character
The next franchise parts were released in 2003 (half a year apart). Keanu received a total of over $30 million, but 80% of that money he spread between 114 people, who were working on that film.
Keanu Reeves’ following roles
After “The Matrix” success, according to critics, Keanu Reeves starred in a number of unfortunate projects. “The Gift”, “Hard Ball”, “Sweet November”, “Thumbsucker”, “Ellie Parker”, “Something’s Gotta Give” – movies not entirely bad, but the actor of that caliber was expected to be cast in films of a different level.
One of the best films with Keanu Reeves – “Constantine”
And the wait was over in 2005, when Keanu portrayed a cold-blooded cynical exorcist Constantine, who is forced to patrol the border between heaven and hell, in the anticipation of the imminent death. After “Constantine” Keanu regained his iconic Hollywood figure status. Around that time, he got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Keanu Reeves with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
In 2006 Keanu took part in an extraordinary Richard Linklater project, the animated film, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick “A Scanner Darkly”. Alongside the characters, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr, Winona Ryder and Woody Harrelson, he became involved in a story about the nearest future, where the world is plagued by a mysterious drug, that fully destroys a person’s body and mind. Keanu played the leading role of the addicted agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
“A Scanner Darkly”: Keanu Reeves as Robert Arctor
The release of the romantic drama “The Lake House” that same year was quite memorable as the movie moved the hearts of millions – it was not just a love story, it had elements of fantasy and even some mysticism.
“The Lake House” – romantic drama starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock
In 2013 Keanu made his debut as a director, when he presented a martial arts film “Man of Tai Chi”. His directorial debut was well-received despite this genre having loads of clichés.
“Man of Tai Chi” – Keanu’s directorial debut
In addition, Reeves was starring in a period fantasy action film “47 Ronin”. Keanu was the only American actor in this project – other roles went to popular, but little known outside their country, Japanese actors. This vibrant and aesthetically pleasing picture received positive feedback, just like the next, but drastically different Keanu action film “John Wick”.
A snapshot from “John Wick”
In 2016 Keanu Reeves appeared as a suspicious hotel manager in a psychological horror film, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn “The Neon Demon”.
A snapshot from “The Neon Demon”
It was then that he starred in a drama “The Whole Truth”, where he portrayed a lawyer, trying to prove the innocence of a young man, accused of killing his father for money. Unfortunately, both critics and viewers found the film exceptionally boring and added this project to the fail list.
Some people believe that Keanu doesn’t age. At all.
That same year Keanu voiced a kitten, who turned out to be his namesake. The comedy movie was simply called – “Keanu”.
Keanu’s furry namesake
Keanu Reeves’ personal life. Family tragedy and other troubles
Keanu Reeves was distinguishably shy as a kid and was quite closed-off even when he got older. Many girls were captivated by his candid gloominess and found special charm in it, but Keanu never let anyone close to his heart, although he had a number of flings and casual relationships.
Keanu’s personal life is full of tragic moments
Keanu met Jennifer Syme, who was his sister’s friend, at a party in 1998. It was love at first sight and soon Keanu, who earlier claimed that he was afraid of a serious relationship and, especially, the prospect of having children, changed his mind.
The baby girl was supposed to be born on 8 January 2000. The couple even chose a name – Ava Archer Syme-Reeves. But during a follow-up exam one week before she was due, the doctor found out that the baby’s heart stopped beating.
Keanu’s daughter died a week before the expected date of birth
And in 2001 the mother of the unborn child, 29-years old Jennifer Syme, died in a car accident. While on her way to a Marilyn Manson party, she lost control of her Jeep and sideswiped three parked cars. Many people believe that this story became the basis of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”, as Jennifer was his assistant at that time.
Love turned out to be a tragedy for Keanu Reeves
But that was just a beginning of a long string of personal tragedies for Keanu Reeves. In January of 2003 his beloved sister Kim had a leukemia relapse. She was diagnosed back in 1993, but up to that point the malady could be jugulated. Keanu almost stopped shooting and surrounded his sister with love and care. And few years later he participated in “Stand Up to Cancer” program where he confirmed that his sister managed to fight leukemia.
Keanu’s sister beat leukemia
Whether Keanu Reeves’ heart is vacant and open for a new relationship is still in question. Many believe that he gave up serious relationships after the death of his beloved.
As for his everyday life, Keanu Reeves is a very modest man. Even though he has millions in his bank account, he continues to use public transport where he usually, being a gentleman he is, offers his seat to women.
Keanu offered his seat to a lady
In 2010 a picture surfaced on the Internet that led to a variety of jokes about “sad Keanu”. Paparazzi took a picture of a seemingly sad actor with his head down, sitting on the bench and eating a sandwich. From that day on, 15 June is unofficially a “Cheer-up Keanu day”.
Picture that started the “Sad Keanu” meme
Keanu can often be seen with the homeless, buying them food and engaging in heart-to-heart conversations. The actor believes that there’s no need to go to the third world countries in order to help the less fortunate, and especially to make a scene out of it. “You can help those in need right here, on the streets of your hometown” – that is his position and it deserves a deal of respect.
When he was younger, the actor indulged in extreme motorcycling, as a result numerous scars and healed injuries are presented on his body today. He also used to play in a punk band Dogstar, when he was younger.
Keanu Reeves loves motorcycles and fast driving
Keanu Reeves today
An action film about a “polite assassin” John Wick was so well-received that the sequel didn’t take long to come out: “John Wick: Chapter 2” was released in 2017 and a “John Wick: Chapter 3” is set to premiere in 2019.
Keanu Reeves in John Wick 2
Today Keanu Reeves is at the top again. He’s been working simultaneously on numerous projects – a sci-fi thriller “Replicas” where the actor plays a new “version” of Victor Frankenstein, a romantic drama “Destination Wedding”, where Reeves will “fall in love” with Winona Ryder again and a crime thriller “Siberia”, which was partly shot in Saint-Petersburg. All the movies are set to release in 2018.
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Hope and pray that i meet him in person and shake his hands! Few actor like him nowadays! i like to meeeeet him....