Keanu Reeves

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12 mins read

Keanu Charles Reeves was born September 2, 1964 and is a Canadian actor.

Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon, the son of Patricia (née Taylor), a costume designer and performer, and Samuel Nowlin Reeves Jr. His mother is English, originating from Essex. His father is from Hawaii, and is of Native Hawaiian, Chinese, English, Irish and Portuguese descent. His grandmother is Chinese Hawaiian. His mother was working in Beirut when she met his father, who abandoned his wife and family when Reeves was three years old. Reeves last met his father on the island of Kauai when he was 13.

After his parents divorced in 1966, his mother moved the family to Sydney, Australia, and then to New York City, where she married Paul Aaron, a Broadway and Hollywood director, in 1970. The couple moved to Toronto, Canada, and divorced in 1971. When Reeves was nine, he took part in a theatre production of Damn Yankees. Aaron remained close to Reeves, offering him advice and recommending him a job at the Hedgerow Theater in Pennsylvania. Reeves’ mother married Robert Miller, a rock music promoter, in 1976; the couple divorced in 1980. She subsequently married her fourth husband, a hairdresser named Jack Bond; the marriage lasted until 1994. Reeves and his sisters grew up primarily in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto, with a nanny caring for them frequently. Because of his grandmother’s ethnicity, he grew up with Chinese art, furniture, and cuisine. Reeves watched British comedy shows such as The Two Ronnies, and his mother imparted English manners that he has maintained into adulthood.

Describing himself as a “private kid”, Reeves attended four different high schools, including the Etobicoke School of the Arts, from which he was expelled. At De La Salle College, he was a successful ice hockey goalkeeper. Reeves had aspirations to become a professional ice hockey player for the Canadian Olympic team but decided to become an actor when he was 15. After leaving the college, he attended Avondale Secondary Alternative School, which allowed him to get an education while working as an actor. He 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. Reeves holds Canadian citizenship by naturalization.

In 1984, Reeves was a correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) youth television program Going Great. That same year, he made his acting debut in an episode of the television series, called Hangin’ In. In 1985, he played Mercutio in a stage production of Romeo and Juliet at the Leah Posluns Theatre in North York, Ontario. He made further appearances on stage, including Brad Fraser’s cult hit Wolfboy in Toronto. He also appeared in a Coca-Cola commercial, and in 1985, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) coming-of-age, short film One Step Away.

He had his feature film debut in Youngblood (1986). He had his breakthrough role in the science fiction comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), and he later reprised his role in its sequels. He gained praise for playing a hustler in the independent drama My Own Private Idaho (1991), and established himself as an action hero with leading roles in Point Break (1991) and Speed (1994).

Following several box office failures, Reeves’s performance in the horror film The Devil’s Advocate (1997) was well received. Greater stardom came for playing Neo in the science fiction series The Matrix, beginning in 1999. He played John Constantine in Constantine (2005) and starred in the romantic drama The Lake House (2006), the science fiction thriller The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), and the crime thriller Street Kings (2008). Following a setback, Reeves made a comeback by playing the titular assassin in the John Wick film series, beginning in 2014.

In 2013, Reeves starred in his own directorial debut, the martial arts film Man of Tai Chi. The film has multilingual dialogue and follows a young man drawn to an underground fight club, partially inspired by the life of Reeves’ friend Tiger Chen. Principal photography took place in China and in Hong Kong. Reeves was also assisted by Yuen Woo-ping, the fight choreographer of The Matrix films. 

Next, Reeves starred in a smaller-scale horror feature, Knock Knock (2015), a remake of the 1977 film Death Game. Reeves plays a father, home alone, when two young women show up and start a game of cat and mouse. His other releases in 2015 were the documentaries Deep Web, about crime on the dark web, and Mifune: The Last Samurai, about the life of a Japanese actor (Toshiro Mifune) famous for playing samurai characters. He narrated both films.

Reeves appeared in five film releases in 2016. The first was Exposed, a crime thriller about a detective who investigates his partner’s death and discovers police corruption along the way. His next release, the comedy Keanu, was better received. In it he voiced the eponymous kitten. Reeves then had a minor role in The Neon Demon, a psychological horror directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. He played Hank, a lustful motel owner who appears in Jesse’s (played by Elle Fanning) nightmare. In his fourth release, he played a charismatic leader of a settlement in The Bad Batch. His final release of the year was The Whole Truth, featuring Gabriel Basso, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Renée Zellweger, and Jim Belushi. He played Richard, a defense attorney. Reeves also appeared in Swedish Dicks, a two-season web television series. 

Reeves starred in a drama, To the Bone, in which he plays a doctor helping a young woman with anorexia. 2017 also saw Reeves make cameo appearances in the films A Happening of Monumental Proportions and SPF-18

Reeves reunited with Winona Ryder in the 2018 comedy Destination Wedding, about wedding guests who develop a mutual affection for each other. They had worked together previously in Bram Stoker’s DraculaA Scanner Darkly and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. Reeves also co-produced and starred in two thrillers. Siberia, in which he plays a diamond trader who travels to Siberia to search for his Russian partner, and Replicas, which tells the story of a neuroscientist who violates laws and bioethics to bring his family back to life after they die in a car crash. 

Returning to the John Wick franchise, Reeves starred in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019), the third feature in the series directed by Stahelski. Reeves then voiced Duke Caboom in 2019’s Toy Story 4, the fourth instalment of Pixar’s Toy Story franchise. 

As early as 2008, Reeves and Alex Winter had shown enthusiasm for a third Bill & Ted film, but the project went into development limbo. Finally in 2020, Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third film in the franchise was released. He also appeared in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run as a tumbleweed named Sage. Reeves appears as Johnny Silverhand in the video game Cyberpunk 2077. 

Reeves supports several charities and causes. In response to his sister’s battle with leukemia, he founded a private cancer foundation, which aids children’s hospitals and provides cancer research. In June 2020, he volunteered for Camp Rainbow Gold, an Idaho children’s cancer charity.

Reeves co-founded a production company, Company Films, with friend Stephen Hamel. An avid motorcyclist, Reeves co-founded Arch Motorcycle Company, which builds and sells custom motorcycles. In 2017, Reeves, Jessica Fleischmann, and Alexandra Grant founded book publisher, X Artists’ Books (also known as XAB). He has written two books: Ode to Happiness and Shadows, both of which are collaborations with Grant; he provided the text to her photographs and art.

He has been described as a workaholic, charming and “excruciatingly shy”. During the production of Constantine, director Francis Lawrence commented on his personality, calling him “hardworking” and “generous”. Erwin Stoff of 3 Arts Entertainment has served as Reeves’ agent and manager since he was 16, and produced many of his films. Stoff said Reeves “is a really private person” and keeps his distance from other people.

Reeves’ casual persona and ability to establish rapport have been observed by the public, leading him to be dubbed the “Internet’s boyfriend”.

In 2005, Reeves received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition for his work in film.