What the Hell Happened to Keanu Reeves?
Keanu Reeves has worked with some of the greatest directors around. He’s been directed by Ron Howard, Kathryn Bigelow, Lawrence Kasdan, Gus Van Sant, Francis Ford Coppola and Bernardo Bertolucci just to name a few. His costars include Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Sandra Bullock and of course the legendary Alex Winter. He’s done comedy, drama, action movies, period pieces and sci fi. Speed made Reeves an action movie star and The Matrix made him an icon. But post Matrix, Reeves’ career has slowed down. His last unqualified hit was in 2003.
What the hell happened?
Keanu means “cool breeze over the mountains.” Reeves was born in Lebanon and is of British, Portuguese, Native Hawaiian, and Chinese heritage. His father went to jail for selling heroin at Hilo International Airport. He abandoned his wife and family when Reeves was only three years old. Reeves was 13 the last time he saw his father.
As a child, Reeves relocated frequently and spent time with several stepfathers. He and his mother moved from Hawaii to Sydney, Australia and then to New York City. Most of his childhood was spent in Toronto. Reeves is actually a citizen of Canada. As a student, Reeves struggled with dyslexia. He gravitated to athletics over academics and excelled at hockey, eh. After an injury ended Reeves’ hockey career, he dropped out of high school to pursue acting.
Before I go about ripping Reeves, let me say this: The man is, by all accounts, an extremely nice person. The internet is filled with stories of Reeves’ generosity. He spent $5 million dollars on leukemia treatments for his sister, bought Harley Davidson motorcycles for the crew of The Matrix Reloaded, given $20,000 to a set-builder who was down on his luck, and frequently bought breakfast and lunch for crew members on his movies. He is quoted as saying ″Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I have already made for the next few centuries.″
According to the Wall Street Journal, Reeves signed away his back-end deal on the Matrix sequels. An “unnamed movie executive” told the Journal that Reeves gave the back-end portion of his salary (estimated between $70-80 million dollars) to the special effects crew of the movies. The source explained “He felt that they were the ones who made the movie and that they should participate.”
The man has dealt with a lot, given a lot of himself to others, and does films that interest him. I’m going to say I don’t like a lot of his films and find some of his performances lacking. But before I rag on any of that, I thought it was worth noting that as a human being, I very much admire him. So then.
Youngblood – 1986
After a series of TV appearances Reeves struck his first notable role in the Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze hockey vehicle Youngblood. Reeves’ experience playing hockey, and real life love of it surely helped in some form or fashion. Youngblood received a lukewarm reception as another feel good sports movie of no particular distinction… also it’s about hockey. So that.
Act of Vengeance – 1986
A TV movie starring Charles Bronson and Ellen Burstyn is actually a drama and not the action movie I was expecting. It has something to do with coal union workers, and has vengeance in the title, so there is some action, as assassinations are plotted. Reeves pops up in a small role. So does Wilford Brimley. Coal could cause diabetes. I have no idea what this movie is about. Reactions seems to be decent to it.
Flying (Teenage Dream) – 1986
This is one of those movies that nobody watched but when one person suddenly becomes a star later, is reissued with them now featured prominently on the cover. And boy what a bad cover it is. Here is the synopsis on IMDB, and even these sentences are hilarious:
Robin and her father have a car accident. Her father dies. Robin is badly injured and cannot compete in gymnastics tournaments anymore. Shattered dreams. She lives with her mother and bad step-father. Robin is accepted to the school athletics team but is not accepted by some other girls, so she works out at a friend’s house. Eventually Robin and her team compete in the national scholastic meet.
I can’t imagine more needs to be said.
There’s the whole movie I think. You’re welcome… I think.
Brotherhood of Justice – 1986
Reeves continued working busily in 1986 with this bargain bin movie (another that tries to capitalize on the later names of the stars) where he and Kiefer Sutherland star as high school students turned vigilantes turned thugs. Violence is never the answer rich kids. Unless you’re Batman. Then it is.
Posted on November 6, 2014, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged bill and ted, John Wick, keanu, Keanu Reeves, matrix, neo, point break, speed. Bookmark the permalink. 274 Comments.