Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves

Reeves at The Lake House London premiere, September 2006
Born Keanu Charles Reeves
September 2, 1964 (1964-09-02) (age 47)
Beirut, Lebanon
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Actor
Years active 1985–present

Keanu Charles Reeves (play /kˈɑːn/ kay-ah-noo; born September 2, 1964) is a Canadian actor. Reeves is perhaps best known for his roles in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Speed, Point Break and the science fiction-action trilogy The Matrix. He has worked under major directors, such as Stephen Frears (in the 1988 period drama Dangerous Liaisons); Gus Van Sant (in the 1991 independent film My Own Private Idaho, also written by Van Sant); and Bernardo Bertolucci (in the 1993 film Little Buddha). Referencing 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 demeanour that suits a police procedural story and the loose-jointed manner of his comic roles."[1]

In addition to his film roles, Reeves has also performed in theatre. His performance in the title role in a Manitoba Theatre Centre production of Hamlet was praised by Roger Lewis, the Sunday Times, who declared Reeves " of the top three Hamlets I have seen, for a simple reason: he is Hamlet."[citation needed] On January 31, 2005, Reeves received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A 2006 ET online survey placed him in the "Top Ten of America's Favorite Stars".[citation needed]


Early life

Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon, the son of Patricia Bond (née Taylor), an English costume designer/performer, and Samuel Nowlin Reeves, Jr., a geologist and Hawaiian-born American of English, Irish, Portuguese, Hawaiian, and Chinese descent.[2][3][4] Reeves's mother was working in Beirut when she met his father. Reeves' father worked as an unskilled labourer and earned his GED while imprisoned in Hawaii for selling heroin at Hilo International Airport.[5] He abandoned his wife and family when Reeves was three years old, and Reeves does not currently have any relationship with him.[5]

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 Australia and then to New York City. There she met and married Paul Aaron, a Broadway and Hollywood director. The couple moved to Toronto; they divorced in 1971. Reeves' mother married Robert Miller, a rock promoter, in 1976; the couple divorced in 1980. She subsequently married her fourth husband, Jack Bond, a hairdresser, a marriage that broke up in 1994. Grandparents and nannies babysat Reeves and his sisters, and Reeves grew up primarily in Toronto. Within a span of five years, he attended four different high schools, including the Etobicoke School of the Arts, from which he was later expelled. Reeves stated he was expelled "...because I was greasy and running around a lot. 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. I was just getting in their way, I guess."[citation needed]

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"). While Reeves dreamed of becoming an Olympic hockey player for Canada, an injury ended his hopes for a hockey career. After leaving De La Salle College, he attended an anarchistic free school (Avondale Alternative), which allowed him to obtain an education while working as an actor; he later dropped out, never obtaining his high school diploma.[citation needed]

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



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. Throughout the early 1980s, he appeared in commercials (including one for Coca-Cola), short films including the NFB drama One Step Away[6] 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.[7]

Reeves' 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 to be Reeves' manager and agent before he even arrived in Los Angeles. Stoff has remained Reeves' manager, and has coproduced many of his films. After a few minor roles, Reeves received a more sizeable 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 portrayal in the press and much of the response to his acting in the early 1990s still mentioned his portrayal of the airheaded Ted.


Reeves' interacting with the press at the Berlin Film Festival

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, the late River Phoenix. In 1994, Reeves' 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' 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 and choosing to play the title role in a 1995 Manitoba Theatre Centre production of Hamlet in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[8] Roger Lewis, the Sunday Times 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."[9]

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

Reeves' other choices after A Walk in the Clouds, however, 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 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 deferred his salary for The Devil's Advocate so that Pacino would be cast, as he would do later for the less successful The Replacements, guaranteeing the casting of Gene Hackman. 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. 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.[citation needed]


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, 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.

His appearance in the 2006 film, A Scanner Darkly, based on the dystopian science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick, received favourable reviews, and The Lake House, his romantic outing with Sandra Bullock, did not do well at the box office. 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.[citation needed]


Reeves started filming the surrealist romantic comedy Henry's Crime in December 2009, with filming set to wrap in early 2010. After this he will be starting work as producer and star on the science-fiction space drama Passengers, written by Jon Spaihts.[10]

In January 2009, it was revealed that Reeves will star in the live-action film adaptation of the anime series Cowboy Bebop,[11][12] slated for release in 2011. Other upcoming projects include the samurai film 47 Ronin, Chef – story by Reeves and written by Steven Knight, and a modern retelling of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, scripted by Justin Haythe and titled Jekyll. Nicolas Winding Refn is in negotiations to direct and was later replaced by Dennis Iliadis and produced by Universal Pictures.[13]

In April 2011 Reeves confirmed that a third installment of the Bill & Ted movie series was underway.[14]

Personal life and other interests

Reeves' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

For nearly a decade following his initial rise to stardom, Reeves preferred to live in rental houses and hotels. He was a long-term resident of the Chateau Marmont. Reeves bought his first house in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles around 2003. He also has an apartment on Central Park West in New York City.[citation needed]

He 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.[citation needed] Due to April 2003 changes in the law, he is entitled to British citizenship through his English mother.

Reeves has never married.[15] In December 1999, his girlfriend Jennifer Syme gave birth to a stillborn daughter, Ava Archer Syme-Reeves. Syme died in 2001, a sole driver involved in an automobile wreck, while partying in Los Angeles.[16]

Reeves was sued unsuccessfully in 2008 in Los Angeles Superior Court for $711,974[17] by paparazzo Alison Silva for allegedly hitting and injuring him with his Porsche after visiting a relative at a Los Angeles medical facility.[18][19] 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. With the lawsuit rejected, Reeves was cleared of all the charges.[20]

In 2010, photos of a sad-looking Keanu Reeves eating a sandwich while alone led to the spread of the "Keanu is Sad/Sad Keanu" Internet meme and the declaration of June 15 as "Unofficial Cheer-up Keanu Day" by a Facebook fanpage.[21]


Reeves played bass guitar in the grunge band Dogstar during the 1990s. In the 2000s, he performed with the band Becky.


Year Film Role Notes
1985 Letting Go Stereo Teen No.1
One Step Away Ron Petrie
1986 Youngblood Heaver
Flying Tommy Wernicke
Young Again Mike Riley, age 17
Under the Influence Eddie Talbot
Act of Vengeance Buddy Martin
River's Edge Matt
Brotherhood of Justice Derek
Babes in Toyland Jack
1988 Permanent Record Chris Townsend
The Prince of Pennsylvania Rupert Marshetta
The Night Before Winston Connelly
Dangerous Liaisons Le Chevalier Raphael Danceny
1989 Life Under Water Kip
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Ted "Theodore" Logan
Parenthood Tod Higgins
1990 I Love You to Death Marlon James
Tune in Tomorrow Martin Loader
1991 Point Break FBI Special Agent John 'Johnny' Utah MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Ted "Theodore" Logan/Evil Ted
My Own Private Idaho Scott Favor
Providence Eric
1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula Jonathan Harker
1993 Much Ado About Nothing Don John
Little Buddha Prince Siddhartha/Lord Buddha
Poetic Justice Homeless Man (Uncredited)
Freaked Ortiz the Dog Boy (Uncredited)
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
A Walk in the Clouds Sgt. Paul Sutton
1996 Chain Reaction Eddie Kasalivich
Feeling Minnesota Jjaks Clayton
1997 The Last Time I Committed Suicide Harry
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
Me and Will Himself
2000 The Replacements Shane Falco
The Watcher David Allen Griffin
The Gift Donnie Barksdale
2001 Sweet November Nelson Moss
Hardball Conor O'Neill
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)
The Animatrix Thomas Anderson/Neo
The Matrix Revolutions Thomas Anderson/Neo
Something's Gotta Give Dr. Julian Mercer
2005 Constantine John Constantine
Thumbsucker Perry Lyman
Ellie Parker Himself
2006 The Lake House Alex Wyler
A Scanner Darkly Bob Arctor
The Great Warming Narrator Voice
2008 Street Kings Detective Tom Ludlow
The Day the Earth Stood Still Klaatu
2009 The Private Lives of Pippa Lee Chris Nadeau
2010 Passengers Jim Preston
Cartagena Character Unknown
Henry's Crime Henry
2011 Jekyll Dr. Jekyll
Cowboy Bebop Spike Spiegel[11][12]
Hanuman Ram[22]
2012 47 Ronin Kai Filming


  1. ^ Maslin, Janet (July 12, 1991). "Surf's Up For F.B.I. In Bigelow's Point Break". The New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Keanu Reeves Film Reference biography". Film Reference. Retrieved May 10, 2008. 
  3. ^ Hoover, Will (August 18, 2002). "Rooted in Kuli'ou'ou Valley". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved December 8, 2010. 
  4. ^ "NEHGS – Articles". Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Ryan, Tim (April 22, 2001). "Memories of Keanu". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on May 24, 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2008. 
  6. ^ "One Step Away". NFB. Retrieved May 10, 2008. 
  7. ^ YouTube clip CBC RetroBites: Keanu Reeves
  8. ^ "Manitoba Theatre Centre – News". Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  9. ^ Vanity fair Volume 58, 1995
  10. ^ Sciretta, Peter (December 9, 2007). "The Hottest Unproduced Screenplays of 2007". Slashfilm. 
  11. ^ a b Kit, Borys (January 16, 2009). "Reeves Leads Cast of Futuristic Bebop". Reuters UK. 
  12. ^ a b Siegel, Tatiana (January 15, 2009). "Keanu Reeves set for 'Bebop'". Variety. Retrieved May 31, 2009. 
  13. ^ Miska, Brad (April 10, 2010). "Dennis Iliadis Directing Universal's 'Jekyll'!". Bloody Disgusting. 
  14. ^ "Bill & Ted 3". 
  15. ^ "Has Keanu finally found love?". Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  16. ^ "Film Notes: Keanu Reeves' Girlfriend Killed - ABC News". Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  17. ^ Lang, Derrik J. (November 3, 2008). "Keanu Reeves Wins Court Case, Photographer Gets Nothing". The Huffington Post. 
  18. ^ "Keanu courts humor against paparazzo". New York Daily News. October 29, 2008. 
  19. ^ "Paparazzo says Reeves hit him with car". USA Today. November 5, 2007. 
  20. ^ Ryan, Harriet (November 4, 2008). "Keanu Reeves cleared in paparazzo lawsuit". Los Angeles Times. 
  21. ^ Suddath, Claire (June 15, 2010). "Help Cheer Up Keanu Reeves". Time Magazine.,8599,1996460,00.html. 
  22. ^ "Ramayan redux", The Telegraph, India, October 31 , 2010 Accessed September 9, 2011

Further reading

External links

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