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Keanu Reeves

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Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves
Born Keanu Charles Reeves
(1964-09-02) September 2, 1964 [1]
Beirut, Lebanon
Nationality Canadian
Other names K.C. Reeves[2]
Occupation Actor
Years active 1984–present
Musical career
Genres Alternative rock, post-grunge
Instruments Bass guitar, backing vocals
Years active 1991–2002
Associated acts Dogstar

Keanu Charles Reeves ( ; born September 2, 1964)[3] is a Canadian actor, director, producer, 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." 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.

Reeves has acted onstage. His performance in the title role for the 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][5] On January 31, 2005, Reeves received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[6]

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. In 2014, he starred in the title role of the action movie John Wick.

Early life

Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon, the son of Patricia Bond (née Taylor), a costume designer/performer from Hampshire, England,[7] and Samuel Nowlin Reeves, Jr.[8] His mother is English while his father, who is a Hawaiian-born American, has Native Hawaiian, Chinese, and Portuguese ancestry.[9][10][11][12][13] Reeves has said: "My grandmother is Chinese and Hawaiian, so I was around Chinese art, furniture and cuisine when I was growing up".[14]

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.[15] 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.[16][2]

Reeves moved around the world frequently as a child and he lived with various stepfathers.[7] After his parents divorced in 1966, his mother became a costume designer and moved the family to Sydney, Australia[17] and then to New York City, where she married Paul Aaron, a Broadway and Hollywood director, in 1970.[18] The couple moved to Toronto and divorced in 1971. When Reeves was 15, he worked as a production assistant on Aaron's films.[19] Reeves's mother married Robert Miller, a rock promoter, in 1976; the couple divorced in 1980. She subsequently married her fourth husband, a hairdresser named Jack Bond. The couple's marriage ended in 1994. Grandparents and nannies babysat Reeves and his sisters, and Reeves grew up primarily in Yorkville, a neighbourhood in Toronto.[20][21] Within five years, he attended four high schools, including the Etobicoke School of the Arts, from which he was expelled.[7] 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."[22]

Reeves excelled more in sports than in academics, as his educational development was challenged by dyslexia. He was a successful ice hockey goalie at one of his high schools (De La Salle College "Oaklands"), and earned the nickname "The Wall".[7] Reeves dreamed of playing hockey for Canada[23] 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.[24]

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.[25][7]


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 dropped out of high school when he was 17. He obtained a green card through his American stepfather and moved to Los Angeles three years later.[7][19] He lived with his ex-stepfather, Paul Aaron, who was a stage and television director.[7] Reeves made his screen acting debut in an episode of Hangin' In. In the early 1980s, he appeared in commercials (including one for Coca-Cola), short films including the NFB drama One Step Away[26] 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.[27]

His first studio movie appearance was Youngblood (1986) in which he played a Québécois goalie. Shortly after the movie's release, Reeves drove to Los Angeles in his 1969 Volvo. His stepfather 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, along with its 1991 sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.

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 involved in various lower-budget independent films, including the well-received 1991 film, My Own Private Idaho with River Phoenix. In 1992, he played Jonathan Harker in the Francis Ford Coppola-directed blockbuster Bram Stoker's Dracula, but his performance was received negatively.

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.

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.[28] 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."[29]

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.[30] The Devil's Advocate did well at the box office and garnered good reviews.

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.[30]

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, were 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.[31]

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

His appearance in A Scanner Darkly (2006), 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.[32] 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.[33]

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.... During that time, Reeves acted as the leading role in 47 Ronin.[34]

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.[35][36] In 2011, he produced the documentary Side by Side about the supplanting of photo-chemical film by digital camera technology; 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[37] and Cannes Film Festival.[38] The work was awarded in Beijing and praised by recognized director of action genre films, John Woo. Reeves's most recent film, John Wick, produced by actor/stuntman David Leitch, opened in October 2014, to positive reviews.[34]

Future projects

In January 2009, it was announced that Reeves would star in the live-action film adaptation of the anime series Cowboy Bebop,[39][40] 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 was possible.[41] 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."[42]

Business ventures

Reeves founded a production company, Company Films, with Stephen Hamel. The company produced Henry's Crime in 2010.[43]

Reeves is an avid motorcyclist. He is a co-founder and co-owner of Arch Motorcycle Company, a business that sells and builds custom motorcycles.[44]

Personal life

Reeves' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Reeves is entitled to British citizenship through his English mother. He holds Canadian citizenship[45] by naturalization. He grew up as a Canadian and identifies as such, and holds an American green card.[7][46][19]

During his initial rise to stardom, Reeves preferred to live in rental houses and hotels. He was a long-term resident of the Chateau Marmont.[45] Around 2003, he bought his first house in the Hollywood Hills. He has since purchased an apartment in Manhattan on Central Park West.[46]

Charitable work

Reeves set up a cancer charity, choosing not to attach his name to the organisation; he has also supported PETA, the SickKids Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer. His sister Kim has battled leukemia for more than a decade.[47][48]

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.[49]

Religious views

Reeves is neither Buddhist nor atheist, despite frequent listings to the contrary.[50][51] 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.]"[52]


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 in an automobile accident. She was the sole passenger of the vehicle at the time of the accident.[53][54] 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.[53]

Legal issues

During 2008, Reeves was sued in Los Angeles Superior Court by paparazzo Alison Silva. The unsuccessful $711,974[55] suit claimed Reeves allegedly hit and injured Silva with a Porsche concluding a family visit at a Los Angeles medical facility.[56][57] 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.[58]

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".[59][60]

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!" [61]

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. While 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 Reeves'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. Both incidents occurred at his Hollywood Hills home.[62][63]



Year Title Role Notes
1985 Letting Go Stereo Teen 1
1985 One Step Away Ron Petrie
1986 Youngblood Heaver
1986 Flying Tommy Wernicke
1986 Under the Influence Eddie Talbot
1986 Act of Vengeance Buddy Martin
1986 River's Edge Matt
1986 Brotherhood of Justice Derek
1986 Babes in Toyland Jack
1988 Permanent Record Chris Townsend
1988 The Prince of Pennsylvania Rupert Marshetta
1988 The Night Before Winston Connelly
1988 Dangerous Liaisons Le Chevalier Raphael Danceny
1989 Life Under Water Kip
1989 Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Theodore "Ted" Logan
1989 Parenthood Tod Higgins
1990 I Love You to Death Marlon James
1990 Tune in Tomorrow Martin Loader
1991 Point Break FBI Special Agent John "Johnny" Utah MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male
1991 Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Theodore "Ted" Logan
1991 My Own Private Idaho Scott Favor
1991 Providence Eric
1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula Jonathan Harker
1993 Much Ado About Nothing Don John
1993 Little Buddha Prince Siddhartha / Lord Buddha
1993 Poetic Justice Homeless Man Uncredited
1993 Freaked Ortiz Uncredited
1993 Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Julian Gitche
1994 Speed Officer Jack Traven MTV 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
1995 Johnny Mnemonic Johnny Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
1995 A Walk in the Clouds Sgt. Paul Sutton Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
1996 Chain Reaction Eddie Kasalivich
1996 Feeling Minnesota Jjaks Clayton
1997 The Last Time I Committed Suicide Harry
1997 The Devil's Advocate Kevin Lomax
1999 The Matrix Thomas Anderson / Neo Blockbuster 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
1999 Me and Will Himself
2000 The Replacements Shane Falco
2000 The Watcher David Allen Griffin Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
2000 The Gift Donnie Barksdale
2001 Sweet November Nelson Moss Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
2001 Hardball Conor O'Neill Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
2003 The Matrix Reloaded Thomas Anderson / Neo Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Fight (shared with Hugo Weaving)
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (shared with Monica Bellucci)
2003 The Animatrix Thomas Anderson / Neo Voice
2003 The Matrix Revolutions Thomas Anderson / Neo
2003 Something's Gotta Give Dr. Julian Mercer
2005 Constantine John Constantine
2005 Thumbsucker Perry Lyman
2005 Ellie Parker Himself
2006 The Lake House Alex Wyler
2006 A Scanner Darkly Bob Arctor
2006 The Great Warming Narrator
2008 Street Kings Detective Tom Ludlow
2008 The Day the Earth Stood Still Klaatu
2009 The Private Lives of Pippa Lee Chris Nadeau
2010 Henry's Crime Henry Producer
2012 Generation Um... John
2012 Side by Side Himself Documentary
2013 Man of Tai Chi Donaka Mark Director
2013 47 Ronin Kai
2014 John Wick John Wick
2015 Knock, Knock Post-production
2015 The Whole Truth Post-production
2015 Daughter of God Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Hangin' In Teen Client Episode: "Happiness is a Warm Grover"
1985 Night Heat Mugger 1 episode
1985 Night Heat Thug 1 episode
1985 Comedy Factory Crackers Episode: "Fast Foof"
1986 Disneyland Michael Riley (Age 17) Episode: "Young Again"
1987 Trying Times Joey Episode: "Moving Day"
1989 American Playhouse Kip Episode: "Life Under Water"
1989 The Tracey Ullman Show Jesse Walker Episode: "Two Lost Souls"
1990 Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures Theodore "Ted" Logan Voice
13 episodes
2009–2012 Easy to Assemble Vorste Feirron 2 episodes


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