If we could make a movie about Keanu’s life, it would probably win a few Oscars. Of course, there is only one man who could portray the role perfectly.
Reeves doesn’t often talk about the string of events that made him who he is. Only he knows every twist and turn in the motion picture of his life, and he has an admirable grace and restraint when it comes to sharing his story. The incredible misfortunes that befell him were just one part of the picture about the life story of Keanu Reeves.
For a long time, he was his only audience, and then something changed.
Keanu Reeves’s career took a winding path to success and it was only later that the world took notice of him and acknowledged him for what he is — a fighter, humanitarian, and above all, a humble man.
Who is Keanu Reeves?
Keanu Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon on September 2, 1964 (he is of English-Hawaiian descent).
Long before becoming a heartthrob and an action movie hero, the actor didn’t sleep in a bed of roses.
His father, Samuel Reeves, spent half of his life behind bars for dealing heroin, only to abandon his family when Keanu was just 3 years old.
Keanu’s mom, Patricia, was left to take care of the boy and his sister Kim all by herself. Although she was a costume designer, reportedly she was working as a stripper at the time, and she was the only breadwinner in the family. First, the family of three moved from Lebanon to Sydney and then to New York.
Eventually, they settled down in Toronto. Throughout this time, Keanu’s mother remarried 3 times, which meant that the actor-to-be had 3 stepfathers over a short period of time.
As a teenager, the future star struggled with dyslexia and a tendency to disobey authority which caused him to eventually drop out of school. In his interview with “Today”, Keanu told the reporter that “he did not have a traditional path because he changed 4 high schools” so this whole period was rather bumpy for him.
Keanu never finished high school.
This is a huge disadvantage for anyone to overcome. Keanu went above and beyond his own expectations — but the biggest trials of his character were yet to come.
A rocky road to stardom
Keanu always wanted to become an actor. Although he wasn’t a great student at school, he always nurtured a keen interest in acting.
Hockey also had a special place in his heart and he was outstanding as a goalie, but his sports career came to a screeching halt after he injured his knee. The injury still plays tricks on him up to this day, and his fans could clearly see that on the set of “John Wick”.
Perhaps it was written in the stars that Keanu would instead become an A-list actor who would take Hollywood by storm.
He got involved in acting when he was just nine years old. He played several roles in the theater and was even cast for the role of Mercutio in Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet when he was just 15.
In the late ’80s, Keanu made appearances in several commercials, including one for Coca Cola. He made his first movie appearance in One Step Away, but he couldn’t quite find his place until he moved to Los Angeles.
A man in his early twenties with no savings and big plans, Keanu was determined to win over the City of Angels. Paul Aaron, Keanu’s former stepfather, helped him during this time by finding a suitable manager for the actor. The roles soon started piling up.
The baby-faced actor became recognizable for playing teenagers. He got stuck in the role of the rambunctious or clumsy boy driven by booming hormones.
However, he was an artist who knew what he wanted. He took most opportunity’s life threw at him, but he kept his eyes on his goal.
During the 1990s, he slowly began to step outside his teenage roles. He left a huge impression with Point Break (1991), along with his co-star Patrick Swayze. In 1992, he received the MTV Movie Award for the Most Desirable Male.
A Reality stranger than fiction
Bit by bit, the actor became one of the most sought-after and praised men in Hollywood. Women around the world went into a craze for his good looks and charm. However, little was known about his love life since the beginning of his career.
He has never been a typical celebrity and he gave paparazzi a really hard time. According to him, he kept the consumption of intoxicants to a minimum and did not allow himself to be swallowed up by the cruel vortex of celebrity vices.
He did admit to having used certain substances way back. But his then-best friend and colleague River Phoenix passed away due to an overdose, and this led Keanu to irrefutably stand against drug abuse.
1994 marked a turning point in his career when he got the lead role in Speed, alongside Sandra Bullock. The action-packed masterpiece soon became a worldwide hit.
Hollywood media has repeatedly claimed that his relationship with Bullock went beyond friendly terms. Towards the end of 2011, rumors about their relationship were more intense than ever but, despite the obvious chemistry between them, the duo never went beyond their onscreen romance.
Interestingly, Keanu refused to play the sequel to the movie Speed and decided to return to the boards. He re-entered the world of theater by playing Hamlet and received excellent reviews. Critics said he interpreted the role so well because he was actually Hamlet — a graceful prince who unites innocence and angst in his character.
Shortly after, Reeves refreshed his career once again by appearing in high-budget pieces such as Walk in the Clouds and Chain Reaction. He became close with Charlize Theron while they were filming The Devil’s Advocate, and the tabloids caught them getting ‘too cuddly’ in public several times. The couple never admitted any romantic bond outside of the movie sets.
The saddest guy in Hollywood
In 1999, Keanu’s career skyrocketed when he got the lead role in the action classic The Matrix. He successfully mastered an extremely physically demanding role that has, according to some estimates, added more than $30 million to his bank account. Interestingly, at the casting, Reeves was selected over other Hollywood A-listers such as Leonardo di Caprio Caprio, Will Smith and Brad Pitt.
But ominous clouds were gathering over Keanu’s life.
The first shock came after his sister was diagnosed with leukemia in 1992. Although the public was unaware of it at the time, Keanu donated a lot of money to cancer charities and organizations. He even runs a private charitable foundation.
“I have a private foundation that’s been running for five or six years, and it helps aid a couple of children’s hospitals and cancer research”, the actor told Ladies Home Journal in 2009. “I don’t like to attach my name to it, I just let the foundation do what it does”, he added.
It was during the period of making Matrix that he met a woman who would change his life.
Her name was Jennifer Syme and she was working as David Lynch’s personal assistant at the time. The two met at a record label party in LA and soon started dating. She was the first girl in a long while to appear publicly as Keanu’s official girlfriend. It was clear she meant the world to him.
A year into their relationship and Syme was pregnant. The couple didn’t tie the knot but they started living together, eagerly awaiting the baby’s arrival.
That day came too soon. In fact, the baby was born prematurely in the eighth month and unfortunately, there was nothing doctors could do to save the little girl. Her devastated parents named her Ava Archer Syme-Reeves.
The relationship between the actor and his girlfriend started deteriorating as they were unable to handle the immense grief. The drifted away but kept in touch occasionally.
Coming back from a house party on the morning of April 2, 2001, Jennifer Syme lost control over her vehicle and crashed into a row of parked cars in Los Angeles. She died instantly.
Her body was laid to rest next to their late daughter in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Losing a child and the love of his life shortly thereafter broke Keanu’s heart into tiny pieces. He was supposed to start filming the sequel of Matrix but had to take some time to grieve.
Although he had never been too open about his private life, these events made him retreat into his privacy even more.
“Much of my appreciation of life has come through loss. Life is precious. It’s worthwhile.” — Keanu Reeves, Interview for Parade magazine, 2006
After these tragic events, the actor’s life has never been the same. “Grief changes shape, but it never ends”, Keanu added for the same interview. “All you can do is hope that grief will be transformed and, instead of feeling pain and confusion, you will be together again in memory, that there will be solace and pleasure there, not just loss.”
“Too good for this World”
Keanu was nowhere to be found for years because the actor deliberately took a break from the spotlight. But soon, people started seeing Keanu in all sorts of random situations in public — he was clearly depressed but kept that down-to-earth charm he had always possessed.
Instead of mocking him or letting him fall into oblivion, his fans wanted to give him some love and support.
They started sharing their stories about encounters with the actor and many of them were tear-jerking or heartwarming. Various people tweeted about their experiences talking to him, and they all agreed that he was sweet, polite, and genuinely a good listener. Somehow, Keanu managed to avoid that typical Hollywood arrogance. His fans even dubbed him “the world’s crush”.
Ode to happiness
For a long time, Keanu stayed away from the spotlight, and nearly nothing was known about his dating life. He kept a low profile as he struggled with depression. He tried recovering his career with 47 Ronin but the movie was a flop. No one actually believed he would make yet another comeback, let alone replicate the success of the Matrix.
But then came John Wick, another massive blockbuster franchise, and all eyes were on Keanu once again.
The bereavement and grief of the retired assassin character struck a chord with Reeves. In his 2019. Interview for the Guardian, the actor said that grief “was one of the foundations of the role for John Wick. I love his grief.”
“For the character and in life, it’s about the love of the person you’re grieving for, and any time you can keep company with that fire, it is warm. I absolutely relate to that, and I don’t think you ever work through it. Grief and loss, those are things that don’t ever go away. They stay with you,” he added.
One of the ways Keanu fought grief and loss was writing. In 2009, he teamed up with Alexandra Grant, a visual artist, and the two of them created a publishing house called X Artists’ Books. Their partnership also resulted in Reeves’s poem picture book, Ode to Happiness, containing poems by the actor and illustrations by Alexandra Grant.
It was the start of a beautiful friendship between the two. In fact, it soon became more than just friendship.
The couple kept their relationship away from the spotlight until they finally appeared together holding hands at the LACMA art and film gala in Los Angeles 2020. It seemed that Keanu had finally come out of his shell and felt confident again.
Fans around the world rejoiced and fell for Keanu even more because he was one of the very few Hollywood stars to have a partner who doesn’t conform to the beauty standards of the industry. But then again, who would expect anything less from this man?
Why is Keanu Reeves such an inspiration?
Even though his fortune is estimated at around one hundred million dollars, Keanu still rides the subway and it is not uncommon to see him on a sidewalk talking to a homeless man. His life hasn’t been easy but he still sports a friendly smile on his face without letting the fame warp him.
Reeves took the most painful parts of his life and found inspiration in them. He never stopped grieving or forgot about the loss, but he found a way to channel it into his movies and his book. This painful sincerity might be why his work continues to touch people’s hearts all around the world.
He continues to contribute to the film industry through amazing roles and an unflagging passion for acting. Most importantly, Keanu has never stopped being kind to others, and it is great to see him receive love in return.
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