Keanu Reeves – The Hollywood’s unlikely hero

Posted: Greta Rozenbergaitė Date: 2014-03-12 09:03

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Keanu Reeves is a Canadian actor born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1964. The absence of false pride common for most Hollywood celebrities appoints to a reserved, modest, sophisticated and without doubt talented intellectual.

The take-off of his acting career being action movies, Keanu also performed in a drama moves as well as romance stories. Even though none of the highest awards came his way, the actor is very highly spoken of by his colleagues and friends. “He carries with him the world weirdness but at the same time there is this bright shining innocence”.

The path of career and life

As a child Keanu moved a lot with his family, from Lebanon to Sydney then to New York City and then to Toronto, Canada. Settling down in a creative Yorkville community where the Rolling Stones were recording their album and many television and radio stars lived in, provided young Keanu with a multicultural and inspiring environment. Moreover, his mother Patricia Taylor raising Keanu as a single parent, worked  hard  as a costume designer for performers like Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, which not only gave boy the sense of self- reliance and independence but also an opportunity to hang out with famous people. “He would come home from school and there was nobody there, so I would take him to a studio. He wanted to be with the guys, he was very happy being there with the band, because we were loud, always laughing and playing with him” the theatrical rocker Alice Cooper recalls. Keanu was pretty close with his former stepfather Paul Aaron who worked as a TV director at that time and introduced Keanu to “this world where people pretended to be other people and it was very lively, colorful, enjoyable place to be”. Keanu started taking interest in acting and began to audition in local TV auditions. Unfortunately he was not as successful in school – the boy changed three high schools and dropped out of college when he was 17.

Later for two years Keanu worked random jobs and attended drama seminars. “First time we saw Keanu, he came in with a very well worn sweat shirt and torn jeans and run down runners, he really was grunge, before grunge was a fashion statement” shares the director of the original “Leah Posluns theatre” , “he throws out the monologue to us, and myself and the director of the school sort of look at each other because immediately it is so clear that this kid is exceptional” teacher Tom Diamond adds. Keanu got his first role in a major Hollywood movie filmed in Toronto “Youngblood”. Even though it was a small part, Keanu enjoyed the experience and decided to strive for more, so 21 year old packed his things, sat in his old Volvo and drove to Los Angeles. Within months Keanu got a major role in crime drama “River’s Edge”, later the famous “Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure” followed. As Keanu started feeling the financial benefits of his career, he invested the money in his passion – motorbikes. The hobby of driving in at very high speeds resulted in a bad accident which left an actor with a huge scar rising vertically his abdomen. Later on, the movie “Point break” came, for which Keanu had to undergo intense physical training, which included sky-diving, surfing and preparing for other action stunts. The biggest break of his career was the movie “Speed”, which also did not go without accidents, apparently two weeks before the movie was going to start, Keanu went and cut all of his long hair off, which made studio furious, and the actor just said that he has been hanging around with these swat guys and they all have short hair, so he decided to cut his too, to make the role of officer Jack Traven more believable. The actor insisted on performing dangerous stunts by himself as well. The joy of becoming a national superstar after the release of “Speed”  was overshadowed by the death of his good friend River Phoenix who collapsed from drug-induced heart failure outside the night club in Hollywood. To make matters worse, Keanu found out about his father being arrested and charged with narcotics trafficking. Keanu chose not to comment on this or any other personal matter. During next two years actor turned down several offers for big budget Hollywood movies and played Hamlet’s part in Monitoba Theatre centre, “one of the top three hamlets I have ever seen, for a simple reason: He is  Hamlet” Roger Lewis of “The Sunday times” said.

Keanu rarely attended any Hollywood parties and lived simply, not giving much value to his status. Because of his choice not to talk about his private life, soon the rumors of his sexuality started to thrive, December 1994 local tabloid fabricated a story of Keanu marrying record company billionaire David Geffen, both parties just laughed the whole thing off.

30 years old Keanu joined friends and formed a band called “Dogstar”, which lead him to meeting Jennifer Syme, on a music’s industry event. Soon a couple started dating, serious relationship evolved and was one of the first Keanu would admit publically.

Later the script of “The Matrix” came along, and Keanu insisted on playing the main character Neo, “I understand this character so inside out, I wake up feeling like him half the time” actors manager remembers Keanu’s attitude. The movie turned out to be a huge success promising the actor a place in two upcoming sequels.

The professional success was accompanied by a happy news of Keanu’s girlfriend being pregnant with a baby girl. Unfortunately some weeks before due date, couple found out that the baby had died in the womb. Both were devastated and soon broke up. Keanu threw himself into work, but more than a year later when he was preparing to film for “The Matrix reloaded” Keanu received a terrible news of his former girlfriend’s death in a car accident. Suffering through a tremendous loss Keanu played one of the most cruel characters in his carrier- a serial killer in the movie “The watcher”.

Keanu Reeves without doubt has seen it all, life was successful as much as it was challenging, yet the characters he has created on the screen remain precise and realistic.

Some of the movies worth seeing besides The Matrix

            My own private Idaho (1991)  drama story lightly based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV part I and II, about two young men who meet while working as a male prostitutes. Keanu plays Scott who leads this kind of lifestyle to distract himself and to pass time until he inherits his father’s fortune, while his friend Mike is somewhat of a lost soul searching for his mother and his path in general, and developing very strong feelings for Scott in a process.

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            Point break (1991) decent action thriller telling a story of FBI agent played by Keanu who infiltrates the surfing community to solve a case of frequent bank robberies.
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            The devil’s advocate (1997) mystical drama concerning the story of an advocate Kevin (played by Keanu) who gets an amazing offer promising him very wealthy life only to find out that his boss is the devil himself.
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            Constantine (2005) a supernatural action thriller based on a comic book called Hellblazer telling a story of Exorcist John who has an ability of seeing angels and demons who are fighting over the power and influences on earth.
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            Scanner Darkly (2006) is an animated adaptation of  Philip K. Dick’s novel concerning the undercover cop, who becomes addicted to a certain drug and struggles in maintaining his true self.
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            The day the earth stood still (2008) is the remake of as classic science fiction film of 1951, concerning the issues of environmental problems as well as the question of humans as a race being worthy of living in earth. Keanu plays the alien Klaatu who has a very clear message to the inhabitants of the planet “If the Earth dies you die, if you die, the Earth survives”.
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            The lake house (2006) a very sensitive and romantic drama about two people stuck in time, trying to find each other while communicating via letters.
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Is Keanu sad?

In 2010 paparazzi taken picture of Keanu just sitting alone and eating a sandwich lead to an internet theme of “sad Keanu” memes and the international holiday of June 15 called “Cheer up Keanu” followed. There was an actual plastic figure of sitting Keanu released.

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Concentrated, down to earth, attentive to detail and extremely honest are the adjectives mentioned while describing Keanu by his co-stars. “He does not say anything or do anything to make anybody else happy, he does what he feels is right and he says what he feels and he works so incredibly hard”.