We will talk about the guy you often see in those sad memes: the one and only Keanu Reeves.
Keanu is famous for his acting career, which began when he appeared in a production of Damn Yankees at just nine years old. Throughout his career, he has appeared in numerous blockbusters such as the Bill & Ted franchise, Point Break, Speed, and, most recently, the John Wick franchise. He’s already on the shoot of the fourth installment.
Keanu’s popularity increased after he starred in a sci-fi action series, The Matrix. Since he started, Keanu has won everyone’s hearts with his exceptional acting skills. And for acting skills, he has earned considerable critical acclaim. But initially, he didn’t start as a movie star. He has been active as a musician for over a decade and played bass guitar in a band called Dog Star.
He’s known for playing characters who often ‘try to save the world’ for his films’ performance. He has received several awards, including a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
But Keanu isn’t like any other celebrity you’re familiar with. He doesn’t live in a mansion, and he often donates most of his paycheck to less fortunate people, but we will get into those details sooner as you read.
Now that you know who we’re talking about let’s get to those things you didn’t know about Keanu Reeves.
#1 His Agent Thought His First Name Was Too Exotic
When Keanu started his Hollywood career, his agent believed that his first name was too exotic for ordinary people. Because of this, he was sometimes credited as Casey Reeves, Norman Reeves, or Chuck Spadina. He got his name after his uncle Henry Keanu Reeves.
Keanu’s name means cool breeze over the mountains in Hawaiian.
#2 His Father Left Him When He Was Three Years Old
In an unfortunate twist of fate, his father abandoned his family when Keanu was just three years old. They kept in touch until he turned six, but the last they saw of each other, Keanu was 13. During this period, his father went to jail for selling heroin at an International Airport.
After his parents divorced, his mother remarried, and Keanu had three stepdads. He and his mother moved around a lot, causing him to attend multiple schools and never make lasting friendships. He also struggled with dyslexia in school, which made learning difficult for him. During a five year period, he went to four high schools, including the Etobicoke School for Arts. There, he got himself expelled, thanks to his rambunctious nature and, as he says, shooting off his mouth a little too often.
#3 His Sister Suffered From Leukemia
Keanu says that one of his best friends is his sister Kim. A few years ago, she was diagnosed with leukemia and endured a long battle with cancer before she eventually won. After seeing his sister go through this torment, Keanu Reeves now often donates a percentage of his earnings to Leukemia research. He even donated 70% of his pay from The Matrix to the cause.
#4 He Lost His Best Friend to Drug Abuse
After a difficult childhood with his father and many setbacks in his personal life, he met a fellow actor named River Phoenix, the brother of Joaquin Phoenix. They quickly bonded and became best friends after Reeves acted in Parenthood alongside River. Their connection became even stronger when they starred together in the 1993 film My Own Private Idaho.
However, this happy period didn’t last long for Keanu as he had to say goodbye to his best friend after he collapsed and died of drug-related heart failure outside the Viper Room, a nightclub in Hollywood.
#5 He Was Paid $10 Million Upfront For The First Matrix Film
At this point in his career, Keanu was already famous, which landed him the millions upfront. When the movie was released, he earned more than 114 million dollars due to a huge success. When he negotiated his contract, Keanu actually chose to hand over eight million dollars to the film’s special effects and makeup staff, believing they worked just as hard and deserved extra pay. On top of that, the actor gifted each member of The Matrix 12 strong stuntman team a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle.
#6 He Used To Play In a Band
There was a time in Keanu’s life where he played bass guitar in a band. He was a member of DogStar, an American alternative rock band active from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. The band performed in Belgium and the United Kingdom at some music festivals. They also released an EP and two albums after the band broke up. Keanu Reeves and his colleague continued to play together in a band called Becky, but due to Keanu’s busy work schedule, he had to drop out of the group.
#7 He Dropped Out of School To Pursue An Acting Career
After being expelled from his fourth high school, he went to Avondale Secondary Alternative School, which allowed him to study while working as an actor. However, he dropped out to pursue acting full-time and didn’t get his high school diploma before dropping out at 16 years old. Keanu Reeves made his first television debut in a Coca-Cola commercial as a contestant in a bicycle marathon. The commercial was his first major acting gig. Later, he made his first studio movie appearance in Young-blood, where he played a goalie.
After the movie’s release, he had a stepdad who drove him to Los Angeles in his 1969 Volvo. He also convinced Erwin Stoff to be Keanu’s manager. The partnership went on to last year, with Stoff even co-producing many of Reeves’s films.
#8 He Almost Become a Hockey Star
Thanks to his dyslexia, the piano didn’t do well in school, but he did excel in sports. Growing up in Canada, he took a keen interest in ice hockey and even played goalie. In fact, Keanu was so good his teammates nicknamed him the wall. Some people say he could have had a career playing in the NHL, but he chose acting instead. Others say he suffered an injury ending his hockey dream, and that’s why he went into acting.
All we know is that after seeing him perform, he ended up in front of the camera and not in front of the net.
#9 He Wrote The Text For The Picture Book “Ode To Happiness”
Keanu has been through a lot of trying times in his life, which was the inspiration for a different kind of creative work. Ode to Happiness is a poem penned by Keanu with a line on each page accompanied by simple blotted ink drawings by the artist and his rumored girlfriend, Alexander Grant. According to Reeves, the poem is not a true reflection of his personal life, nor was it designed to counteract his media created a lonely image.
#10 He Doesn’t Own a Mansion
The actor now resides in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles, California. However, for a long time, he preferred to live in rental homes and hotels. Back then, he was a long-term resident of the Chateau Marmont Hotel but eventually caved and bought his own place in LA. In the Hollywood Hills area, his neighbor is another man you might know of none other than Leonardo DiCaprio.
#11 He Turned Down A Role in The Speed Sequel
After winning the MTV award for most desirable male for his starring role on Point Break, all eyes were on Keanu. He was offered the lead in the film speed starring opposite Sandra Bullock. The film was a huge success; however, in Speed 2: Cruise Control, Keanu turned the role down when it came to the film’s sequel. He says it was nothing against the actors or directors, just that it was a case of reading the script and going, “oh, I just can’t do this.”
#12 He is a True Philanthropist
Just like we mentioned before, Keanu is one of the good guys who like to give. Apart from the matrix donation he gave to the special effects and makeup teams, he took a 90% pay cut for the replacements. So the studio could bring Gene Hackman into the film.
Before this, he redirected 2 million dollars of a salary for The Devil’s Advocate for a chance to work with Al Pacino, and after his sister battled cancer, he set up a cancer charity, choosing not to attach his name to the organization but where he still donates money. The actor also supports PETA, the kid’s foundation, and Stand Up to Cancer.
#13 He Owns a motorcycle Manufacturing Company
The actor is an avid rider and motorcycle collector who has logged thousands of miles behind the bars of his favorite bike, the Norton commando. He’s had a love for motorcycles since when he was 22 and saw a girl with her Kawasaki and Dural motorcycle while filming in Munich, Germany. After she taught him how to ride it, he went home and bought one that looked similar, and then he kept buying until he opened his own motorcycle manufacturing company.
He met his business partner, and he walked into a custom shop in LA to look for a sissy bar for one of his bikes. There he was the co-founder of Arch Motorcycle company with Guard Hullinger, a motorcycle builder with years of experience. The two eventually started the company and even released its first product, the KRG t1, based on a bike he built for Reeves shortly after they met.
Because you stuck with us all the way to the end, here is a bonus fact: Alice Cooper babysat Keanu Reeves during his childhood. Keanu grew up in Toronto near a studio, Nimbus 9, where his mother used to work as a costume designer. According to his mother, the rock legend Alice Cooper babysat him. However, the actor doesn’t remember it very well.