Inside Keanu Reeves’ Inscrutable Non-public World: Tragedy, Bikes and Epic Film Stardom

Inside Keanu Reeves' Inscrutable Non-public World: Tragedy, Bikes and Epic Film Stardom

Getty Photographs; Shutterstock; Warner Bros.; Summit Leisure/E! Illustration

When Keanu Reeves was requested the opposite evening, “What do you assume occurs once we die?” interviewer Stephen Colbert most likely wasn’t anticipating such a deep—or assured—reply from the film star.

“I do know that those that love us will miss us,” the 54-year-old actor mentioned sagely, rendering the Late Present host unusually speechless.

It was a honest, considerate response—classic Reeves, actually—from somebody who’s had motive to consider such issues.

“I have never actually thought of my profession future, or what was going to occur, till actually just lately,” he additionally advised GQ in February. Requested why he began fascinated about it, he replied, “Loss of life!”

The nonetheless eerily youthful-looking Reeves, who’s again in theaters Friday within the third installment of the blockbuster John Wick franchise, has develop into a model unto himself, the title “Keanu” signifying not simply film stardom but additionally a sure sort of efficiency and even a way of thinking: chill, zen, blissfully checked out (“Unhappy Keanu” meme however). His title—which has lent itself to a comedy a few cat and a latest hit track by Logic, and which in fact a studio exec needed him to alter when he first got here to Hollywood—does imply “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian, in any case.

However nonetheless waters run deep, and regardless of being within the public eye for greater than 30 years, he is one of many least-known folks whose chiseled face you’ll acknowledge anyplace. Few play it as near the vest as Reeves, who, although he does the occasional interview and reveals as much as fulfill his facet of the cut price in selling his movies, does not discuss his private life. And never in the best way that the majority celebrities do not actually discuss their private lives.

As in, it is fully unclear if he even has one, though—take a look at him—he should.

Keanu Reeves, John Wick 3 premiere

Craig Barritt/Getty Photographs for Carl F. Bucherer

“I got here to Hollywood to be in motion pictures,” Reeves advised Parade just lately. “I really feel actually grateful that I’ve had that chance, however I am only a non-public particular person, and it is good that may nonetheless exist.”

He does not even publicize his charity work, however his causes embrace youngsters’s hospitals, preventing most cancers, the humanities and the setting. 

“I at all times discover it surreal that full strangers come up and ask me private questions,” he advised Parade again in 2008. “I do not thoughts talking about work, however when the speak turns to ‘Who’re you?’ and ‘What do you do off-screen?’ I am like, ‘Get out of right here.’ I have been in conditions the place folks have felt they’d a relationship with me or one thing and I did not even know who they have been.”

Not that Reeves is an anti-star. He lives within the hills above West Hollywood, spent loads of time having fun with the native nightlife in his youth and has starred in numerous quotable motion motion pictures—and will get paid handsomely for them, sufficient in order that he can take off and do ardour tasks like his first (and solely, up to now) directorial effort, 2013’s The Man of Tai Chi, or present up unheralded on a Swedish sitcom (Swedish Dicks, now on Pop) or in any indie movie he so wishes, just like the latest Vacation spot Wedding ceremony, an acerbic comedy that reteamed him with Bram Stoker’s Dracula co-star Winona Ryder.

Keanu Reeves

Chris Pizzello/AP/REX/Shutterstock

He is completely congenial but often seems considerably severe, however not as a result of he is taking himself critically—extra as if he desires to reply even essentially the most lighthearted of questions with respectful gravity. However hey, as Stephen Colbert simply came upon, when you ask Reeves a probably loaded query, put together to get a solution.

Requested by Parade in 2008 if he believed in aliens, as a result of he was taking part in the alien Klaatu in a remake of The Day the Earth Stood Nonetheless, he replied, “Some days I do. Some days I do not. There’s a lot unexplained and unexplainable phenomena that is introduced to us. However past that, the cosmos is so huge. We will not be the one sentient entity. It may not appear to be us, however it’ll be on the market.”

His signature Keanu cadence was once mistaken for an indication of vacuity, however Reeves attributed nonetheless he got here off in interviews to his general discomfort with speaking about himself.

“I’ve by no means performed silly to maintain somebody distant,” he advised Vainness Honest in 1995. “I do not play silly. Both it has been a failure on my half to articulate, or my naivete, or ingenuousness, or typically it is the character of the shape… And you realize, I discover myself extra in a position to give a proof of a mission 5 years later than in the course of it. It is so present-tense! I can let you know how I really feel, however its context is tougher to clarify… Typically once I’m interviewed I am not prepared to try this. So that you say…’glorious!’ And you realize what, man? It is OK.”

It definitely was.

Ted Theodore Logan, Johnny Utah, Jack Travern, Neo, John Wick: all characters that needed to be performed by Reeves. He is executed every part from Shakespeare to sports activities flicks to A Scanner Darkly, and shortly you will be listening to his voice as Duke Caboom, a motorcycle-riding stuntman with a wistful backstory, in Toy Story four, which is able to most likely sneak in to high The Matrix Reloaded, which made $742 million worldwide, as his single highest-grossing film.

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“So I made Duke slightly extra gravelly however nonetheless tried to present him power and an enormous character,” Reeves shared with Leisure Weekly in March. “I simply thought that Duke ought to love what he does. He is the best stuntman in Canada! I needed him to be always doing poses on the bike whereas he was speaking, to have this nice extroverted ardour.”

He turned down Velocity 2 to play Hamlet onstage in Canada. He was one of many first large stars who memorably jammed on the facet along with his personal band, Dogstar, within the ’90s and now he co-owns a customized bike store known as ARCH Bike in Hawthorne, Calif, as a result of he loves bikes as a lot as you assume he does.

“Using generally is a place to assume and really feel. It is a solution to work issues out,” he just lately advised Parade, noting that inclement climate does not cease him. “I like using within the rain. It is slightly extra sketchy.” He rides primarily alone, however he and the ARCH crew cruise Pacific Coast Freeway on Sunday mornings.

And if bikes present one soul-soothing salve for Reeves, performing supplies one other.

“In performing, you are always discovering new emotions and ideas and exposing your self to them,” he advised Parade in 2008. “I suppose it might be thought of psycho-therapy. All I do know is that, as an actor, I can let you know a narrative that you will take heed to. Perhaps it will not simply entertain you, it may additionally educate you one thing. I believe movie has the ability to alter your life if you wish to let it.

Mix his real-life inscrutability along with his is-it-genius-or-does-he-just-do-the-same-thing-every-time strategy to performing, and he is develop into extra delusion than man—and that, too, is a large a part of his attraction. He is simply so Keanu.

“I do not personal a pc and I do not e-mail,” he mentioned within the 2008 Parade interview. “I am fascinated by individuals who freak out when they do not get an on the spot response to an e-mail. It is like they count on as quickly as they ship an e mail to get the reply again and if they do not it is like terrible. I simply hope folks will not completely lose the power to jot down letters as a result of it is a great way to speak.”

He most well-liked typewriters, Reeves mentioned—and we will solely hope he and Toy Story star Tom Hanks had an opportunity to speak about typewriters collectively.

“I solely have good issues to say about him,” Swedish Dicks star Peter Stormare, who met Reeves doing Constantine in 2005, which led to the actor’s function on his present, advised GQ. “Yearly, we’ll have a beer collectively and discuss life and issues. He is very non-public. He leads his life the best way he desires to guide it. And I suppose it may be lonely typically. However I believe he is identical to me. There is a consolation in being alone typically, particularly if you’re engaged on one thing.”

“We bonded over bikes, bass guitar, and Harold Pinter,” Alex Winter, the Invoice to his Ted, additionally advised the journal. “Reeves had a extremely good e-book assortment.”

Reeves was born in Beirut, to a Hawaiian father and English mom, however they divorced when he was about 2. Mother Patricia remarried within the US., however after that did not work out she settled with a 7-year-old Keanu and his youthful sister, Kim, who was born in Australia, in Toronto. Reeves reportedly hasn’t spoken to his dad since he was 13. 

“We have been latchkey children,” he advised Esquire in 2017. “It was mainly ‘go away the home within the morning and are available again at evening’. It was cool.” However, he advised Parade, “Even for a runaway English lady, my mom gave us a correct upbringing. We realized manners, respect for our elders, formal desk settings. I additionally realized a nonprejudicial, nonjudgmental acceptance of different folks.”

His favourite a part of college was doing performs and finding out Shakespeare in English class, so he dropped out at 17 to attempt his hand at performing.

“My attendance file was very unhealthy. I used to be lazy,” Reeves advised Vainness Honest. “I knew I needed to behave once I was midway by means of grade 11, I suppose, and faculty wasn’t necessary.”

His first performing job got here on the Canadian collection Hangin’ In in 1984. Then he moved to Los Angeles and made his big-screen debut within the Rob Lowe-starring drama Youngblood in 1986. Later that yr he gained his first main function within the gritty teen crime drama River’s Edge, which went on to win Greatest Function on the Unbiased Spirit Awards.

So it was off to the races for Reeves, who within the subsequent 5 years made a wildly numerous array of films, together with the very-’80s comedy The Night time Earlier than, Harmful Liaisons, Invoice & Ted’s Wonderful Journey (and its sequel, Bogus Journey), Parenthood, Level Break and My Personal Non-public Idaho.

He was very a lot residing the quick Hollywood life, and it wasn’t all charmed.

In 1993, River Phoenix died of an unintended drug overdose—one other painful factor Reeves did not need to discuss, however he spoke fondly of his buddy and My Personal Non-public Idaho co-star.

“I loved his firm. Very a lot,” Reeves advised Rolling Stone in 2000. “And loved his thoughts and his spirit and his soul. We introduced good out in one another. He was an actual authentic thinker. He was not the established order. In something.”

As for Phoenix’s dying, “It is one thing he thinks about on a regular basis, one thing he by no means actually talks about,” a buddy advised Individuals. “Buddies know to not go there with him.”

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In 1994 his estranged father, Samuel, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for drug possession in Hawaii, however was launched in two. “Jesus, man. No, the story with me and my dad’s fairly heavy. It is stuffed with ache and woe and fucking loss and all that s–t,” he advised RS round that time. In 1995, he advised Vainness Honest, when requested why he did not need to know extra about his dad’s case, “Why would I need to discover out what I did not know?” He known as the scenario “fairly unbelievable,” and that was that.

Keanu Reeves, Kim, Karina

Frank Trapper/Corbis through Getty Photographs

Reeves has an enormous scar on his stomach from when he suffered a rupture spleen in a bike crash whereas using in L.A.’s Topanga Canyon in 1988. He went right into a hairpin flip going about 50 mph.

“I name demon trip,” he mirrored to Rolling Stone. “That is when issues are going badly. However there’s different instances if you go quick, or too quick, out of exhilaration…I keep in mind saying in my head, ‘I’ll die.'”

“I keep in mind calling out for assist,” he continued. “And somebody answering out of the darkness, after which the flashing lights of an ambulance coming down. This was after a truck ran over my helmet. I took it off as a result of I could not breathe, and a truck got here down. I obtained out of the best way, and it ran over my helmet.”

Keanu Reeves, Dogstar

Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Picture Financial institution through Getty Photographs

Additionally whereas his star was on the rise, his sister Kim battled most cancers for years beginning within the late ’80s. “He helped me by means of,” she advised Vainness Honest about her brother. “When the ache obtained unhealthy, he used to carry my hand and hold the unhealthy man from making me dance. He was there on a regular basis, even when he was away.”

Actor and Dogstar bandmate Roger Mailhouse advised Rolling Stone about Reeves in 2000, “He is a extremely giving particular person. He’d offer you his final shoe. Actually sensible, too. He is extremely booksmart. He is a extremely attention-grabbing one who does not speak a whole lot of s–t.”

Requested how his buddy had modified over the previous decade, i.e. the ’90s, Mailhouse mentioned, “I do not fear about him as a lot. I used to fret about him. As a result of I consider him as certainly one of my greatest pals on the earth, was he going to crash his bike, or this or that. We did some wild issues. I suppose it is simply rising up. I do not know—perhaps it had one thing to do with River Phoenix, perhaps. Shedding somebody near him. However now I am simply pleased with him. He is attending to do it the fitting approach.”

Keanu Reeves, Patricia Taylor

Kevin Winter/Getty Photographs

For years you would be more likely to see Kim or Patricia on Reeves’ arm at a premiere or different large occasion—equivalent to when he obtained a star on the Hollywood Stroll of Fame in 2005—than any girlfriend, and the actor hasn’t been publicly concerned with anybody for years.

Not that he hasn’t been linked to a bevy of his co-stars, together with Sandra Bullock and Charlize Theron, but when he is in a severe relationship, it isn’t with a celeb.

Keanu Reeves

Late Night time with Jimmy Fallon

On The Tonight Present Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2013 he was sporting what anybody would take for a marriage band on his left ring finger, however no revelations ever sprang from that accent selection.

When Parade requested just lately if he remained a bachelor, Reeves replied (squirming a bit, in line with the journal), “Properly, I am not married.”

By the interviews he is given over time, a theme operating by means of them is the seen discomfort he begins to evince when the dialog veers towards the too-personal. And a few matters are simply off-limits altogether.

Reeves began relationship actress Jennifer Syme after assembly her at a celebration in 1998 they usually have been anticipating a child collectively—however the baby, a woman they named Ava, was stillborn at eight months. They laid her to relaxation in January 2000, in line with Individuals, and broke up weeks later.

They remained shut up till Syme, who suffered from extreme postpartum despair, died in 2001 when she crashed her Jeep Cherokee into a number of parked vehicles on a L.A. avenue and was thrown from the automobile. In 2002, her mom, Maria St. John, sued Marilyn Manson, who had thrown a celebration that Syme attended that evening, for wrongful dying, alleging he had given Syme  the cocaine that an post-mortem present in her system. 

“After Jennifer was despatched residence safely with a delegated driver, she later obtained behind the wheel of her personal automobile for causes identified solely to her,” Manson, who knew Syme by means of filmmaker David Lynch and had labored together with her on Misplaced Freeway, mentioned in a press release.

The rocker continued, “This lawsuit, which is totally with out advantage, won’t deliver again Jennifer’s life. It serves solely to reopen the injuries and the ache felt by all who beloved Jennifer. It’s a pity that St. John sullies her personal daughter’s status by submitting this baseless declare.”

They reportedly reached a settlement out of courtroom, however Manson maintained he had nothing to do with Syme taking medication that evening. 

Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock

Frazer Harrison/Getty Photographs

Reeves has by no means spoken publicly about his relationship with Syme, which definitely matches proper into how he was earlier than, not to mention since. However he grieved. And he finally had one thing to say about that.

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“I believe, after loss, life requires an act of reclaiming,” he advised Parade in 2006. “It’s important to reject being overwhelmed. Life has to go on.”

The actor continued, “Grief adjustments form, nevertheless it by no means ends. Individuals have a false impression which you could take care of it and say, ‘It is gone, and I am higher.’ They’re unsuitable. When the folks you’re keen on are gone, you are alone. I miss being part of their lives and them being a part of mine. I ponder what the current could be like in the event that they have been right here—what we’d have executed collectively. I miss all the good issues that can by no means be.”

So he knew precisely what he was speaking about when he advised Colbert, “I do know that those that love us will miss us.”

Calling it “unfair” and “absurd,” Reeves advised Parade, “All you are able to do is hope that grief will probably be reworked and, as a substitute of feeling ache and confusion, you can be collectively once more in reminiscence, that there will probably be solace and pleasure there, not simply loss.”

“A lot of my appreciation of life has come by means of loss,” he concluded. “Life is valuable. It is worthwhile.”

Keanu Reeves


He mentioned on the time that he wish to have a household, and reiterated the sentiment a pair years later, however Reeves advised Esquire in 2017 with reference to “settling down”: “I am too… it is too late. It is over.” Requested to make clear, he added, “I am 52. I am not going to have any children.”

Well-known final phrases from a litany of 50-something males, and he was reminded of that. Reeves simply mentioned, “That is an entire different… However no. I am glad to nonetheless be right here.”

“I am each cliché,” he continued. “F–king mortality. Ageing. I am simply beginning to get higher at it. Simply the quantity of stuff it’s a must to do earlier than you are lifeless. I am all the clichés, and it is embarrassing. It is all of them. It is simply, ‘Oh my God. OK. The place did the time go? How come issues are altering? How a lot time do I’ve left? What did not I do?’ I am making an attempt to think about the road from the sonnet… ‘And closely from woe to woe inform o’er / The unhappy account of fore-bemoaned moan / Which I new pay as if not paid earlier than.'”

“So, yeah,” he added, reportedly with a smile. “I am that man.”

In flip, Reeves can not help however come off because the solitary determine he so typically performs in his movies, from Constantine to The Matrix to John Wick. Heck, even Duke Caboom sounds slightly melancholy.

On the similar time, you are simply as more likely to see him in a romantic tear-jerker or a unusual comedy as a shoot-em-up. He is performed heroes and hustlers, sweethearts and merciless villains, academics and  slackers, docs and legal professionals.

“For me, it is simply persevering with to have the ability to work with nice artists and inform tales that folks take pleasure in,” Reeves advised Parade. “I used to be at all times hoping, even once I was younger, that I may do various things,” he says. “I am actually grateful for that. I am very lucky. I am glad to be right here.”

Although he had no thought John Wick could be such a success, Reeves was in high kind within the 2014 motion extravaganza as a retired hit man who goes on a revenge spree after gangsters kill the beloved canine that was a present from his late spouse.

It made virtually $89 million on a reported $20 million price range. Sequel time!

“You hope and also you dream however the actuality is even sweeter,” he advised E! Information in 2017 concerning the first movie’s shock success when he was selling John Wick: Chapter 2. “It is nice to be concerned in a mission that has a lot affection.”

Chapter 2 made $172 million worldwide.

Now again for John Wick: Chapter three—Parabellum, Reeves has revealed that he began coaching closely about three months earlier than filming started to get again into dynamo form, and he nonetheless goes whole-hog (or horse, on this film’s case) within the motion sequences, proper up till a automobile runs into him.

Keanu Reeves, John Wick 3, On Set

James Devaney/GC Photographs

“I will do some struggle scenes after which John Wick will get hit by a automobile,” Reeves defined to Colbert on The Late Present, “and that is Jackson Spidell, who’s an incredible stuntman.” Spidell has been Reeves’ stunt double in all of the John Wick motion pictures. “He will get hit by the automobile, then I will rise up from the automobile, then I will do an entire bunch extra of, like, gun-fu and no matter, jujitsu, judo—after which, if I get thrown off one thing, Jackson does his factor.”

Much more thrilling for some followers, nonetheless, relying on whether or not you want your Keanu darkish or extra dude-like, is the information that he and Alex Winter are lastly set to start out taking pictures Invoice & Ted Face the Music, the much-discussed follow-up to 1989’s Invoice & Ted’s Wonderful Journey and sequel Invoice & Ted’s Bogus Journey, which got here out in 1991. The years-in-the-making comedy is tentatively due out in 2020.

And so forth his newest press tour, Keanu Reeves left his regular path of breadcrumbs. They might not lead you straight to his door, however they will undoubtedly hold you on the trail.

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