Moving within an industry like Hollywood It should not be an easy task. Being talented, loved by all and staying current after several decades is something that very few have achieved. One of those who has managed to maintain such status is Keanu Reeves, one of the great names that can afford to say that it owns everything previously said.
His name is synonymous with many things, but today we could say that it is that of a real star. He is talented, he has fans who follow him throughout the universe, he is loved by his peers and every production in which he participates is a guaranteed success. As if that were not enough, he exudes a simplicity and humility, like two unusual qualities for someone of his status.
However, before becoming one of the most acclaimed names in cinemaReeves had a tough childhood, which led him to live on opposite ends of the world. Before even beginning to think about a career on the acting path, he considered being an ice hockey player.
A tough childhood, away from his father and with little sense of belonging
Although many do not know it, Keanu Reeves was born on September 2, 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon.. His mother, Patricia Bond, an artist and costume decorator from England, who left home when she was young. While her father, Samuel Reeves, was a native of Honolulu with Chinese and Portuguese ancestry.
His parents met and married in Beirut when his mother was 19 and his father 21. After Keanu was born, his younger sister Kim arrived. He had been in prison for selling drugs at the Honolulu airport. When Keanu was only 3 years old, his father abandoned them, so the little one met him at the age of 6. The last time he had contact with his father was at the age of 13 on the island of Kauia.
After his parents divorced in 1966, Keanu’s mother, who was a costume designer at the time, decided to move her children to Australia and then to New York. There she met and married Broadway director Paul Aaron. The family eventually relocated to Toronto, Canada, where Reeves spent most of his adolescence.
Already in his high school years, the young Keanu began to feel attracted to the world of cinema and the performing arts, partly mentored by his stepfather. However, those years were not easy, since in a matter of a few years he changed schools four times. In addition to his dyslexia problem, Keanu felt a certain resistance to obeying authority, which caused him problems in the educational establishments he attended, so he decided to drop out of school.
The winding road to fame
Although the traditional school format was not for him, always had a great attraction for acting. In fact, in an interview he confessed that he had always wanted to be an actor. Hockey played a big role in his life too. His talent for the sport placed him as a great promise in the world of ice hockey, but an injury to his knee ended up sending him to the supplement bench, leaving him with little chance of getting back on his skates.
But clearly, fate had other plans for Keanu Reeves, who was destined to become one of Hollywood’s greats. His first steps in acting began at the age of 9. Although in his teens he had the occasional flirtation with the theater, his leap to the screen came in the late 1980s when he appeared in several commercials, including one for Coca-Cola. But his first role in a feature film would come in 1985 in the film One Step Away, Directed by Robert Fortier.
It was only in his twenties that Reeves began to take seriously the challenge of becoming an actor. With no savings and no plan, she decided to move to the city of Los Angeles. His former stepfather, Paul Aaron, helped him get a manager so he could steer his course.
Little by little and with effort, his face began to become known in the industry. With a boyish and handsome face, Keanu began playing teenage roles, some with a rebellious spirit and others more awkward. Still, he knew what he wanted and did not miss any of the opportunities or challenges that life threw his way.
In 1989 he starred Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, followed by the sequel Bill & Ted’s Fake Trip. Already towards the 90, little by little he began to put aside the adolescent roles. So it was that in 1991 he got Breaking point (Point Break), who co-starred alongside Patrick Swayze.
Some low-budget titles like My Own Private Idaho (1991), in which he acted alongside River Phoenix, brother of Joaquin Phoenix. In 1992, he played Jonathan Harker in the adaptation of Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. In this film he shared the screen with Winona Ryder, Gary Oldman Y Anthony Hopkins.
Fame plays a trick on him
Slowly, the actor became one of the most wanted and praised men in Hollywood. Many raved about his attractiveness and charm, but his private life remained a mystery.
Even if her climb into the world of cinema was dizzying, she never fit the typical celebrity description. According to him, he tried to stay away from the cruel vortex of celebrity vices. Although he admitted to having ever used the odd substance, the death of his best friend and colleague River Phoenix, who died of an overdose, led him to adopt the flag against drug use.
In 1994, His career took an unexpected turn when the lead came to him in Maximum speed (Speed) junto a Sandra Bullock. The action tape became a worldwide phenomenon. Along with the success of the film came the rumors about his alleged relationship with his film partner. Apparently they had left the “friend zone” to become something else. The chemistry between the two was palpable, however, both assured that nothing happened between them beyond their romance on screen.
Focused and refocused, Keanu found a new wave of opportunities. In 1995 he starred A walk on clouds (Walk in the Clouds), and the following year, Chain reaction (Chain Reaction). In 1997 it was released The devil’s lawyer (The Devil’s Advocate), which she co-starred with alongside Al Pacino Y Charlize Theron.
Once again, the media began to circulate the rumors of an affair with Theron. The press claimed to see them very “caramelized” outside the film set, but the duo never admitted their romance off-camera.
The tragedy of his life and the movie that saved him
In 1999, Keanu reached the peak of his career when he landed the lead role in Matrix, the film directed by the Wachowski sisters, and that would be the first of a successful trilogy. Despite his booming success and being one of the actors of the moment, his personal life would take an unexpected turn.
During that time he met the woman who would change his life. His name was Jennifer Syme and worked as a personal assistant to director David Lynch. The couple met at a party in Los Angeles and soon began dating. She quickly became the most watched woman on the planet, as she had become the Keanu Reeves Official Girlfriend.
A year into their relationship, Syme became pregnant. Although they did not get married, the couple moved to live together to prepare for the arrival of their first child and their family life. Unfortunately that day came too early. The baby anticipated his arrival and was born prematurely in the eighth month. Despite the effort, there was nothing the doctors could do.
Devastated, the passage of time began to deteriorate the couple’s relationship, until they finally separated. Even when they were no longer a couple, they maintained a certain bond. During the early morning hours of April 2, 2001, Jennifer Syme was returning from a party when she lost control of the vehicle,. He died on the spot.
The actor’s pain was immense. Heartbroken, she was preparing to begin filming the Matrix sequel, but had to take time to heal and process her loss.
While he has never been very open about his private life, these painful events caused him to withdraw even further into his privacy. “Much of my appreciation for life is due to loss. Life is Beautiful. It’s worth it”he said in an interview with Parade Magazine in 2006. “Pain changes shape, but never ends”he mused.
John Wick and the well deserved return to the screens
For a long time Keanu took a break from acting and fame. His return to the screen came from the hand of 47 Ronin but the film ended up being a failure.
Many believed that the success of the Matrix saga would be difficult for the actor to replicate, until in 2014 he arrived John Wick. In the film he plays a retired hitman who decides to return to action after the death of his wife.
His new character’s similarities struck a chord with Kenau. In an interview with The Guardian in 2019, the actor said that pain is one of the pillars of John Wick’s character, a feeling that resonated in every part of his being.
Besides getting back in front of the cameras, another way to ease her pain was through writing. In 2009 he joined the visual artist Alexandra Grant, with whom he created the publishing house X Artists’ Books. Their collaboration also resulted in the publication of a poetry book called Ode to happiness (Ode to Happiness), which contains poems written by Reeves and illustrations by Grant.
Without a doubt it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the two, which with the passage of time became something more. The couple found a way to stay away from the flashes, until in 2020 they made their first public appearance at a film gala in Los Angeles..
With a new love in his life and with a career at the top, a new opportunity knocked on his doors. The proposal not only surprised the actor, but the whole world. So it was that he knew that Keanu would once again put himself in Neo’s shoes for the fourth installment of the Matrix saga, called Matrix Resurrection and that is already in cinemas.
No doubt Keanu Reeves is one of those Hollywood outliers. His life has not been easy at all, but despite all that he has had to live, he continues to show that kind smile on his face and that warm gaze that above all flashes humility. A man who knew how to turn the most painful moments of his life into a form of inspiration to make the most of every moment.
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Keanu Reeves: a tragic life, a unique career and how he became the most beloved in Hollywood