Keanu Reeves

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Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves 2013 TIFF (cropped).jpg
BornKeanu Charles Reeves
(1964-09-02) September 2, 1964 (age 50)[1]
Beirut, Lebanon
Other namesK.C. Reeves
Keannu Reeves
Years active1984–present
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Not to be confused with Keanna Reeves.
Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves 2013 TIFF (cropped).jpg
BornKeanu Charles Reeves
(1964-09-02) September 2, 1964 (age 50)[1]
Beirut, Lebanon
Other namesK.C. Reeves
Keannu Reeves
Years active1984–present

Keanu Charles Reeves (/kˈɑːn/ kay-AH-noo; born September 2, 1964)[2] is a Canadian actor, director, and musician. Reeves is known for his roles in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Speed, Point Break, and The Matrix trilogy as Neo. He has collaborated with such major directors as Stephen Frears (in the 1988 period drama Dangerous Liaisons); Gus Van Sant (in the 1991 independent film My Own Private Idaho); and Bernardo Bertolucci (in the 1993 film Little Buddha). Referring to his 1991 film releases, The New York Times' critic, Janet Maslin, praised Reeves' versatility, saying that he "displays considerable discipline and range. He moves easily between the buttoned-down demeanor that suits a police procedural story and the loose-jointed manner of his comic roles."[3] A repeated theme in roles he has portrayed is that of saving the world, including the characters of Ted Logan, Buddha, Neo, Johnny Mnemonic, John Constantine and Klaatu.

In addition to his film roles, Reeves has acted in theatre. His performance in the title role for Manitoba Theatre Centre's production of Hamlet was praised by Roger Lewis of The Sunday Times, who declared Reeves "one of the top three Hamlets I have seen, for a simple reason: he is Hamlet."[4] On January 31, 2005, Reeves received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

A multifaceted artist, Reeves worked with illustrator Alexandra Grant to author a book, Ode to Happiness. He has also produced a documentary, Side by Side; and directed the film Man of Tai Chi. He is set to star in the title role of the upcoming action movie John Wick.

Early life

Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon, the son of Patricia Bond (née Taylor), an English-born costume designer/performer, and Samuel Nowlin Reeves, Jr.[5] His father, who is a Hawaiian-born American, has Native Hawaiian, Chinese, English, Irish, and Portuguese ancestry.[6][7][8][9][10] Reeves has said: "My grandmother is Chinese and Hawaiian, so I was around Chinese art, furniture and cuisine when I was growing up".[11]

Reeves's mother was working in Beirut when she met his father. Reeves's father earned his GED while imprisoned in Hawaii for selling heroin at Hilo International Airport.[12] He abandoned his wife and family when Reeves was three years old, but Reeves knew him until he was six. They last met on the island of Kauai when Reeves was 13.[13]

Reeves moved around the world frequently as a child and he lived with various stepfathers. After his parents divorced in 1966, his mother became a costume designer and moved the family to Sydney, Australia[14] and then to New York City, USA. There she met and married Paul Aaron, a Broadway and Hollywood director. The couple moved to Toronto, Canada; they divorced in 1971. Reeves's mother married Robert Miller, a rock promoter, in 1976; the couple divorced in 1980. She subsequently married her fourth husband, Jack Bond, a hairdresser; the marriage ended in 1994. Grandparents and nannies babysat Reeves and his sisters, and Reeves grew up primarily in Toronto. Within five years, he attended four high schools, including the Etobicoke School of the Arts, from which he was expelled. Reeves stated he was expelled because "I was just a little too rambunctious and shot my mouth off once too often. I was not generally the most well-oiled machine in the school."[15]

Reeves excelled more in hockey than in academics, as his educational development was challenged by dyslexia. He was a successful goalie at one of his high schools (De La Salle College "Oaklands"), and earned the nickname "The Wall". Reeves dreamed of playing hockey for Canada but an injury ended his hopes for a hockey career. After leaving De La Salle College, he attended Avondale Secondary Alternative School, which allowed him to obtain an education while working as an actor. He later dropped out and did not obtain a high school diploma.[16]

In January 2011, on the BBC program The One Show, Reeves spoke of his English ancestry via his mother, mentioning his happy watching of The Two Ronnies comedy show, among others, when younger, and how his mother imparted English manners that he still has today.[17]


1980s: Rise to stardom

Reeves began his acting career at the age of nine, appearing in a theatre production of Damn Yankees. At 15, he played Mercutio in a stage production of Romeo and Juliet at the Leah Posluns Theatre. Reeves made his screen acting debut in a CBC Television comedy series entitled Hangin' In. In the early 1980s, he appeared in commercials (including one for Coca-Cola), short films including the NFB drama One Step Away[18] and stage work such as Brad Fraser's cult hit Wolfboy in Toronto. In 1984, he was a correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV youth program Going Great.[19]

Reeves's first studio movie appearance was in the Rob Lowe ice hockey film Youngblood, in which he played a Québécois goalie. Shortly after the movie's release, Reeves drove to Los Angeles in his 1969 Volvo. His ex-stepfather Paul Aaron, a stage and television director, had convinced Erwin Stoff in advance to be Reeves's manager and agent. Stoff has remained Reeves's manager, and has co-produced many of his films.

After a few minor roles, Reeves received a sizable role in the 1986 drama film River's Edge, which depicted how a murder affected a group of teens. Following this film's critical success, he spent the late 1980s appearing in a number of movies aimed at teenage audiences, including Permanent Record, and the unexpectedly successful 1989 comedy, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, which, along with its 1991 sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, typecast Reeves as a spaced-out teen. Much of his coverage in the press and much of the response to his acting in the early 1990s mentioned his portrayal of the airheaded Ted.

1990s: Widespread popularity

From 1991, Reeves played bass guitar in the grunge band Dogstar. During the early 1990s, Reeves started to break out of his teen-film period. He appeared in high-budget action films like Point Break, for which he won MTV's "Most Desirable Male" award in 1992. He was also involved in various lower-budget independent films, including the well-received 1991 film, My Own Private Idaho with his close friend, River Phoenix. In 1992, Reeves played protagonist Jonathan Harker in the Francis Ford Coppola-directed blockbuster Bram Stoker's Dracula, but his performance has been widely criticised.

In 1994, Reeves's career reached a new high as a result of his starring role in the action film Speed. His casting in the film was controversial since, except for Point Break, he was primarily known for comedies and indie dramas. He had never been the sole headliner on a film. The summer action film had a fairly large budget and was helmed by novice cinematographer-turned-director Jan de Bont. The unexpected international success of the film made Reeves and co-star Sandra Bullock into A-List stars.

Reeves's career choices after Speed were eclectic: despite his successes, Reeves continued to accept supporting roles and appear in experimental films. He scored a hit with a romantic lead role in A Walk in the Clouds. He made news by refusing to take part in Speed 2: Cruise Control – despite the offered $11 million paycheck, which would have been his largest to date – in favour of touring with his band and playing the title role in a 1995 Manitoba Theatre Centre production of Hamlet in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[20] Of his performance, Roger Lewis, the Sunday Times theatre critic, wrote, "He quite embodied the innocence, the splendid fury, the animal grace of the leaps and bounds, the emotional violence, that form the Prince of Denmark... He is one of the top three Hamlets I have seen, for a simple reason: he is Hamlet."[21]

However, Reeves's choices after A Walk in the Clouds failed with critics and audiences. Big-budget films such as the sci-fi action film Johnny Mnemonic and the action-thriller Chain Reaction were critically panned and failed at the box office, while indie films like Feeling Minnesota were also critical failures. Reeves finally started to climb out of his career low after starring in the horror-drama The Devil's Advocate alongside Al Pacino and Charlize Theron. Reeves took a paycut of $1 million for The Devil's Advocate so that Pacino would be cast, and later took a 90 per cent paycut for the less successful The Replacements to guarantee the casting of Gene Hackman.[22] The Devil's Advocate did well at the box office, received good reviews, and proved that Reeves could play a grown-up with a career, although many critics felt that his poor performance detracted from an otherwise enjoyable movie.

Reeves promoting The Day the Earth Stood Still in Mexico in 2008.

The 1999 science fiction-action hit The Matrix, a film in which Reeves had a starring role, was a box office success and attracted positive reviews.[22]

2000s: Continued successes

In between the first Matrix film and its sequels, Reeves received positive reviews for his portrayal of an abusive husband in The Gift. Aside from The Gift, Reeves appeared in several films that received mostly negative reviews and unimpressive box office grosses, including The Watcher, Sweet November and The Replacements. However, the two Matrix sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, along with Something's Gotta Give and the 2005 horror-action film, Constantine, proved to be box office successes and brought Reeves back into the public spotlight. Reeves performed with the band Becky for a year, but quit in 2005, citing his lack of interest in a serious music career.[23]

Reeves leaving the press conference for The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Berlinale 2009

His appearance in the 2006 film, A Scanner Darkly, based on the dystopian science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick, received favorable reviews, and The Lake House, his romantic outing with Sandra Bullock, was a success at the box office.[24] He went on to play the lead character in two 2008 films, Street Kings and The Day the Earth Stood Still. In February 2009 The Private Life of Pippa Lee was presented at Berlinale.[25]

2010s: New artistic roles

Beginning in 2008, Reeves began pre-production on his directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi. The film is a multilingual narrative, partly inspired by the life of his friend, stuntman Tiger Chen. Filming occurred on mainland China and Hong Kong. During Man of Tai Chi's five years of scripting and production, Reeves acted in several B movies with lead roles as Henry in 2010's Henry's Crime and John in 2012's Generation Um.... Also during that time, Reeves acted as the leading role in a blockbuster film, 47 Ronin.

In 2011, he returned to other artistic mediums of expression. Having played music earlier in his career, he forayed into literature by writing the text for a "grown-up picture book" entitled Ode to Happiness. The text was complimented by Alexandra Grant's illustrations.[26][27] Also during 2011, he produced the documentary Side by Side about the supplanting of photo-chemical film by digital camera technology. For the motion picture, Reeves interviewed several celebrated directors including James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, and Christopher Nolan.

Reeves′s first directorial film, Man of Tai Chi, premiered in 2013 with showings at the Beijing Film Festival[28] and Cannes Film Festival.[29] The work was awarded in Beijing and praised by recognized director of action genre films, John Woo.

Future projects

In January 2009, it was announced that Reeves would star in the live-action film adaptation of the anime series Cowboy Bebop,[30][31] initially slated for release in 2011. Due to budgeting problems, the script was sent for a rewrite, and the project's status is currently unknown.

In April 2011, Reeves referenced that a third installment of the Bill & Ted series had been initiated.[32] He further elaborated on the film in December 2013 during a taping of NBC's The Today Show. "I'm open to the idea of that...I think it's pretty surreal, playing 'Bill & Ted' at 50. But we have a good story in that. You can see the life and joy in those characters, and I think the world can always use some life and joy."[33]

As of October 2013, Reeves is currently filming the action film John Wick. Filming is slated to begin in early 2014 for the sci-fi romance Passengers, whose script Reeves developed with his production company and writer Jon Spaihts.

Personal life

Reeves' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Reeves is a U.S. citizen through his American father and also holds Canadian citizenship by naturalization; he grew up as a Canadian and identifies as such.[34] He is also entitled to British citizenship through his English mother.

During his initial rise to stardom, Reeves preferred to live in rental houses and hotels. He was also a long-term resident of the Chateau Marmont. However, around 2003, Reeves bought his first house in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. He has since purchased an apartment in Central Park West, New York City.[34]

Reeves is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.[35]

Charitable work

Reeves set up a cancer charity, choosing not to attach his name to the organisation; he has also been involved with PETA, the SickKids Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer.[36]

Reeves gave US$80 million of his US$114 million earnings of The Matrix sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, to the special effects and makeup staff. He is quoted as saying ″Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I have already made for the next few centuries.[37]

Religious views

Contrary to popular impression, Reeves is neither Buddhist nor atheist, despite frequent listings to the contrary.[38][39] He has previously claimed to be non-religious, while also citing an intense interest in Buddhism. In September 2013, when asked if he was a spiritual person, he replied with: "I don’t know? I don’t know the spiritual Richter-scale measurement! That’s a weird answer, isn’t it? I don’t know. Do I believe in God, faith, inner faith, the self, passion, and things? Yes, of course! I’m very spiritual … Supremely spiritual … Bountifully spiritual … Supremely bountiful. [Laughs.]"[40]


In December 1999, Reeves's girlfriend, Jennifer Syme, gave birth to a stillborn daughter. Ava Archer Syme-Reeves was born prematurely, following an eight-month pregnancy. Eighteen months later, Syme died, the sole passenger in an automobile wreck.[41][42] Reeves, who was scheduled to begin shooting back-to-back Matrix sequels during the subsequent spring, was seeking "peace and time to deal with this," said his friend Bret Domrose, a guitarist in Reeves's alternative rock band Dogstar.[41]

Legal issues

During 2008, Reeves was sued in Los Angeles Superior Court by paparazzo Alison Silva. The unsuccessful $711,974[43] suit claimed Reeves allegedly hit and injured Silva with a Porsche concluding a family visit at a Los Angeles medical facility.[44][45] The paparazzo's lawsuit took a year and a half to make it to trial, during which time Silva continued to attack Reeves and demand payment. At the trial, all 12 jurors rejected the suit, needing only an hour of deliberation to reach their verdict.[46]

Sad Keanu meme

Reeves gained internet notoriety in 2010. Photos of him, seemingly depressed while eating alone, were posted to a 4chan forum. The images were soon distributed via several blogs and news sites. These pictures led to the "Keanu is Sad" or "Sad Keanu" meme being spread on internet forums. An unofficial holiday was created when a Facebook fan page declared June 15 as "Cheer-up Keanu Day".[47][48] On the first anniversary of "Cheer-up Keanu Day", Reeves was interviewed for an article in British newspaper, The Guardian. When prompted about the unsolicited attention, he responded, "It is hopefully, in a quiet and enjoyable way, transformative. The kind of thing that takes you from this one place to another – to look at yourself and, y'know, it can always be worse. I hate that sentence: of course it can always be worse!" [49]

Stalker intrusions

On September 12, 2014, Reeves awoke when he heard someone in his home. He found a female stalker in his library. She said that she was there to meet him. Whilst he calmly talked to her, he called 911 and alerted the Police. They arrived, arrested her and took her in for psychological evaluation. On September 15, 2014, a second female stalker made her way into his home through a gate that was left unlocked by a cleaning company. This time, the intruder undressed and took a shower in Reeve's bathroom and then proceeded to swim naked in his swimming pool. The cleaning crew became suspicious and alerted Reeves who was not at home. He then notified the Police who arrived to arrest the stalker. [50][51]



1985Letting GoStereo Teen 1
1985One Step AwayRon Petrie
1986FlyingTommy Wernicke
1986Under the InfluenceEddie Talbot
1986Act of VengeanceBuddy Martin
1986River's EdgeMatt
1986Brotherhood of JusticeDerek
1986Babes in ToylandJack
1988Permanent RecordChris Townsend
1988The Prince of PennsylvaniaRupert Marshetta
1988The Night BeforeWinston Connelly
1988Dangerous LiaisonsLe Chevalier Raphael Danceny
1989Life Under WaterKip
1989Bill & Ted's Excellent AdventureTheodore "Ted" Logan
1989ParenthoodTod Higgins
1990I Love You to DeathMarlon James
1990Tune in TomorrowMartin Loader
1991Point BreakFBI Special Agent John "Johnny" UtahMTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male
1991Bill & Ted's Bogus JourneyTheodore "Ted" Logan
1991My Own Private IdahoScott Favor
1992Bram Stoker's DraculaJonathan Harker
1993Much Ado About NothingDon John
1993Little BuddhaPrince Siddhartha / Lord Buddha
1993Poetic JusticeHomeless ManUncredited
1993Even Cowgirls Get the BluesJulian Gitche
1994SpeedOfficer Jack TravenMTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo (shared with Sandra Bullock)
Nominated – Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Movie Actor
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (shared with Sandra Bullock)
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male
1995Johnny MnemonicJohnnyNominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
1995A Walk in the CloudsSgt. Paul SuttonNominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
1996Chain ReactionEddie Kasalivich
1996Feeling MinnesotaJjaks Clayton
1997The Last Time I Committed SuicideHarry
1997The Devil's AdvocateKevin Lomax
1999The MatrixThomas Anderson / NeoBlockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actor in an Action/Science Fiction Film
Golden Slate for Best Actor in a Leading Role
MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance
MTV Movie Award for Best Fight (shared with Laurence Fishburne)
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo (shared with Laurence Fishburne)
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Actor
1999Me and WillHimself
2000The ReplacementsShane Falco
2000The WatcherDavid Allen GriffinNominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
2000The GiftDonnie Barksdale
2001Sweet NovemberNelson MossNominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
2001HardballConor O'NeillNominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
2003The Matrix ReloadedThomas Anderson / NeoNominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Fight (shared with Hugo Weaving)
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (shared with Monica Bellucci)
2003The AnimatrixThomas Anderson / NeoVoice
2003The Matrix RevolutionsThomas Anderson / Neo
2003Something's Gotta GiveDr. Julian Mercer
2005ConstantineJohn Constantine
2005ThumbsuckerPerry Lyman
2005Ellie ParkerHimself
2006The Lake HouseAlex Wyler
2006A Scanner DarklyBob Arctor
2006The Great WarmingNarrator
2008Street KingsDetective Tom Ludlow
2008The Day the Earth Stood StillKlaatu
2009The Private Lives of Pippa LeeChris Nadeau
2010Henry's CrimeHenryProducer
2012Generation Um...John
2012Side by SideHimselfProducer
2013Man of Tai ChiDonaka MarkDirector
201347 RoninKai
2014John WickJohn Wick
2015Knock, KnockPost-production
2015The Whole TruthPost-production


1984Hangin' InTeen ClientEpisode: "Happiness is a Warm Grover"
1985Night HeatMugger1 episode
1985Night HeatThug1 episode
1985Comedy FactoryCrackersEpisode: "Fast Foof"
1986DisneylandMichael Riley (Age 17)Episode: "Young Again"
1987Trying TimesJoeyEpisode: "Moving Day"
1989American PlayhouseKipEpisode: "Life Under Water"
1989The Tracey Ullman ShowJesse WalkerEpisode: "Two Lost Souls"
1990Bill & Ted's Excellent AdventuresTheodore "Ted" LoganVoice
13 episodes
2009–2012Easy to AssembleVorste Feirron2 episodes


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Further reading

External links