Keanu Reeves has earned the status of a good person — and luckily for all the hardcore Keanu fans, he deserves this title. Over the course of his nearly 40 year career, Keanu’s known to be a dedicated performer who takes his work seriously. Unlike many other stars in the industry, Keanu likes to make bold career moves. He approaches Hollywood unlike any other actor of his caliber, and he’s dropped some surprising revelations about life, fame, and fortune as a film legend.
Keanu is a one-of-a-kind person. In an interview with Stephen Colbert to promote John Wick 3, the host asked Keanu to give his thoughts on what happens after death. After a pause, Keanu said, “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.”
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That mystique has been part of Keanu’s entire life. He was born September 2, 1964, in Beirut, Lebanon, and given the name Keanu, which means, “cool breeze over the mountains.” His mom, Patricia, was an English casino showgirl, while his dad, Samuel, was a native Hawaiian.
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Samuel wouldn’t stay with the family for long. After a stint in prison for drug dealing, he abandoned his family. Patricia and young Keanu lived in Australia and New York before staying in Toronto.
Patricia was a costume designer for clients like Dolly Parton and Alice Cooper. Alice actually babysat Keanu once for Patricia. He grew up in a star-studded environment with his mom.
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As a teenager, Keanu hints at a few wild years. “I was greasy and running around a lot. I was just a little too rambunctious,” he said. One of his teachers claimed he was consistently late to class.
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Keanu would soon get into the film industry, starting out as a teen heartthrob in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He appeared in dramas like River’s Edge (1986) and the Bill & Ted comedy franchise.
Next, he pivoted to action movies and became an accidental star of the genre. Keanu wasn’t keen at being in these types of movies initially. “He hated stunts, and he hated action! He was afraid of it,” Speed director Jan de Bont said.
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He got deeper into action movies with The Matrix trilogy and then in the extremely popular John Wick series. Now, Keanu loves being a part of these entertaining movies and vows to go “as far as my legs can take me” with the franchise.
As a tenured action star, Keanu has a special “low sodium, low fat” diet he likes to follow to prepare for an upcoming role. Whenever he shoots a big action scene, he always eats a steak before the scene.
“It started on The Matrix. I was like, ‘Gotta go eat a steak.’ It’s totally psychological,” he said. Twenty years after the trilogy ended, he continues to enjoy his meat treat, normally a New York strip with light fat.
He must have eaten a ton of steak when he made John Wick. Keanu feels a strong connection this character and the way he deals with grief. “Well, 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,” he said.
Keanu has a deep connection to loss. “I absolutely relate to that, and I don’t think you ever work through it,” Keanu said. “Grief and loss, those are things that don’t ever go away. They stay with you.”
Even in his mid-50s, he didn’t think this impacted his feelings about grieving. “I don’t think it’s about getting older. It’s always with you, but like an ebb and flow,” he said. Reeves was speaking from experience.
Keanu’s life is spotted with tragedy. River Phoenix, his friend and co-star in My Own Private Idaho (1991), died of a drug overdose in 1993. Seven years later, he and his girlfriend, Jennifer Syme had a stillborn daughter.
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This led to the pair splitting. But, in 2001, Jennifer was killed when she crashed into a row of parked cars after a party and was ejected from her Jeep Grand Cherokee. Only 28, she was buried next to her daughter.
In light of these personal traumas, Keanu bravely went on with his life. He’s well-known as a nice person, which he doesn’t like discussing. For instance, he helped Octavia Spencer when she had car trouble.
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In addition, he is generous with his wealth, funding innovative research, “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. I don’t like to attach my name to it, I just let the foundation do what it does.”
Though some call him generous, Keanu insists that’s just who he is. “Money doesn’t mean anything to me. I’ve made a lot of money, but I want to enjoy life and not stress myself building my bank account. I give lots away and live simply, mostly out of a suitcase in hotels. We all know that good health is more important.”
Basically, Keanu’s secret is being a humble person and living life, guided by his kind personality. There are hundreds of stories of his thoughtfulness scattered across the internet, as people spot his selfless behavior out in the real world.
Regardless of what’s out there, Keanu remains grounded. For instance, he’ll ride the subway instead of being chauffeured in a limo. Rather than demand an exorbitant salary, he’ll pass all his movie earnings onto the underpaid crew and stuntmen.
Also, most fans don’t know just how dedicated Reeves is to his characters. In The Matrix, Keanu was one of the few actors to do most of his own stunts. During the scene where he speaks with Morpheus on the phone, he actually climbed out of a window 34 stories up.
Reeves was asked to read three books prior to making the film: Simulation and Simulacra, Out of Control, and Evolution Psychology. These where his red pills, so to speak — the director wanted him to get into a very meta headspace.
During the first 45 minutes of The Matrix, Keanu Reeves, who plays Neo, has 80 lines of dialogue in total. His character learns about the true nature of reality, which leads to 44 of those lines solely being questions (one question every minute).
In the third and final film, the epic ending battle between Neo and Smith appears to take place in the pouring rain. However, look closely, and you’ll see the “raindrops” were actually millions of bits of the Matrix code showering down, implying the world was destabilizing.
There’s a scene where one character refers to Neo as “Copper Top.” This nickname is actually a slang term for Duracell batteries, the type Morpheus shows Neo as he explains how the human race became an energy source.
This massive loop-highway for the epic action sequence in The Matrix Reloaded was built on the decommissioned Alameda Point Navy Base specifically for the movie. The scene took three months to shoot, and afterward, the entire thing was destroyed.
After the second two movies were finished filming, crews broke down the sets and recycled them. Around 97 percent of the materials were shipped to places like Mexico to help build low-income housing. Do you think this red chair is in someone’s living room?
One of the most gruelingly long and tiring scenes to film was the lobby shootout with Neo and Trinity. The whole thing took 10 days to shoot from start to finish, and there was no CGI involved.
At the beginning of the second film, the Audi that Smith’s driving has a license plate that reads “IS5416.” This was a reference to Isaiah 54:16 in the King James Bible: “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.”
There are also a ton of other Bible references, as well. For example, when Neo speaks to The Keymaker, he references verse 3:14 in the twenty-seventh book of the New Testament (which discusses creation), explaining Neo needs to knock out 27 blocks of power in under 314 seconds.
Lastly, Morpheus’s ship is called the Nebuchadnezzar, which is a reference to the biblical King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. The king was famous for his conquests of ancient Israel.
The epic scene where Neo fends off hundreds of Smith clones, also known as the “Burly Brawl,” took a whopping 27 days to film. There have actually been entire feature films shot in that same time frame.
A movie as visually dazzling and intellectually stimulating as The Matrix takes a boatload of planning before shooting even begins. Over the course of five years, the Wachowski siblings worked through 14 drafts of the screenplay, and the final concept art was 500 storyboards long!
Warner Bros. needed the Wachowskis to prove themselves as talented directors before they were handed the reigns to The Matrix. So, they directed a much smaller thriller called Bound in 1996, which was very successful. Trust was earned, as well as the director’s chair.
The famous “woman in red” scene was filmed using many pairs of real-life identical twins to give an authentic feel that the program Morpheus was showing Neo was repeating itself.
At the beginning of the first film, Room 101 isn’t just a random room number. It’s actually a reference to Room 101 from the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell. In the story, a prisoner is tortured with their own worst phobia.
Nearly every scene of the trilogy is bleak in color except at the very end. The last scene of The Matrix Revolutions is set in a park, and for the first time, viewers are shown lush vegetation and a bright blue sky.
The trilogy’s finale, The Matrix Revolutions, was only the second movie ever to open in IMAX at the exact same time it opened in regular theaters. This was due to the second film’s wild success when it was released in IMAX after regular theaters.
The film was shot almost entirely in Sydney, Australia, to save money. However, Sydney is such a beautiful place that it proved difficult to find run-down locations to film. Thus, many of the movie’s urban-decay backdrops were handcrafted.
Matrix producers had two choices in mind to play Neo: Keanu Reeves or Johnny Depp. Reeves took it, obviously, and now it’s almost impossible to picture anyone else in the role.
In fact, Reeves absolutely blew up after the films’ incredible success. There’s no telling what would’ve become of him without landing this role, considering all the hardships he was facing in his life.
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