America's cool breeze over the mountain
Keanu Charles Reeves was born September 2, 1964
in Beirut, Lebanon, to Samuel Nowlin Reeves (half-Hawaiian, half-Chinese)
and Patric Taylor (English). There was a move to Australia for
a year where his first sister Kim was born in 1966. A second (half)
sister, Karina, was born in 1976. Keanu (Key-ah-nu) means "cool
breeze over the mountains" in Hawaiian (For those who wish
to get technical, the translation is relative. Hawaiian is actually
a picture language, and in many cases deals with concepts or ideas
more than just specific words. "Keanu" -- what a concept!)
After their divorce, Patric and Samuel went their separate ways:
Patric and the two kids to New York City, and Samuel to Hawaii.
Keanu visited his father in Hawaii on occasion until he was thirteen.
That was the last time Keanu saw him. Samuel was sentenced in
1994 to ten years in prison for drug possession. He was paroled
in mid-1996. They do not maintain contact with each other.
In New York, Patric met and married director Paul Aaron. They
moved to Toronto, and took up Canadian citizenship (which Keanu
still retains), but split up less than a year later.
Keanu described himself as a "middle-class white boy. A bourgeois,
middle-class white boy with an absent father, a strong-willed
mother, and two beautiful younger sisters." Patric switched
partners a few times more and moved as often. Her third husband
was rock promoter Robert Miller (with whom she had Karina), and
her fourth was Jack Bond, whom she divorced in 1994.
Keanu attended Jesse Ketchum Public School in Toronto from kindergarten
through the eighth grade, and attended four high schools (including
De La Salle College and the Toronto School for the Performing
Arts) before dropping out completely at age 17. Keanu took on
lots of different jobs, including sharpening skates at an ice
rink shop (he's an avid hockey player), landscaping, and making
pasta (and managing the place to boot!). Then came some stage
work (most notably - and notoriously - Wolfboy in 1984, his professional
stage debut) and some bit parts on TV. His motion picture debut
was in Dream To Believe in Canada but it [reportedly] was the
1986 TV movie Under the Influence that earned him his SAG union
Keanu's first big feature film debut in a US film was in Youngblood
in which he had a small part.
Keanu hit the road for Hollywood in 1986 with $3,000, an old Volvo,
and his stepfather Paul Aaron's address. A few name changes followed
as "Keanu" was considered by his manager to be too exotic.
They settled on K.C. Reeves, but it was short-lived. Keanu it
was, and Keanu it was going to be.
Keanu soon landed River's Edge, arguably one of his best roles
ever. A string of movies followed as the troubled (or misfit)
teen. His parts continued to grow, and then he started attracting
the eye of more mainstream directors. He landed films like Dangerous
Liaisons, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Much Ado About Nothing, and Little
But it was 1994's Speed that really made everyone stand up and
notice. Perhaps not so much for Keanu's acting, but the fact that
this was his first mega-hit, grossing nearly $300 million at the
box office (world-wide). Figures like that will catch the eye
of any studio executive, and Keanu was soon reportedly being offered
sums up to $7 million for his services.
With Johnny Mnemonic and A Walk in the Clouds already in the can,
those offers were put on hold or turned down so that Keanu could
return to Canada and fulfill a dream of playing the title role
in Hamlet on stage. Reviews were mixed, but in general reviewers
were kind and some were enthusiastic.
More films followed: Feeling Minnesota, Chain Reaction and The
Last Time I Committed Suicide, which did moderately at the box
Keanu was then offered the lead in the sequel to Speed, entitled
Speed II. But he felt the script was not good and he turned it
down. Everyone accused Keanu of making a horrible mistake; and
that he should have done the role. 20th Century Fox, not wishing
to disclose the real reason Keanu turned it down (bad script),
gave out a press release saying that Keanu turned it down so he
could tour with his band, Dogstar. In fact, that was not true.
Keanu was offered a better script (Devil's Advocate) and he filmed
that at the same time as the disastrous Speed II was filmed. Devil's
Advocate was a big hit and Speed II sunk at the box office. Suddenly
critics were saying how smart Keanu was for turning down Speed
Then it was off to Australia to film The Matrix. No one knew what
to expect from this, and when it opened in the spring of 1999
it was a huge blockbuster, and brought Keanu back front and center
in the public eye and catapulted him into the top ranks of money
earners with an asking salary of $20 million per picture. In the
summer of 1999 Keanu filmed The Replacements, and finished out
the year with The Watcher. Both of those pictures were released
in the year 2000. Keanu went on to film three more films, The
Gift, Sweet November, and Hardball.
Most recently, Keanu has starred in the blockbuster hit, Something’s
Gotta Give with Diane Keaton, and the sci-fi thriller, Constantine.
Keanu Reeves is more than a mega superstar. He has stood the test
of time while breaking ground for many multi-cultural performers.
There is only one, and his name is Keanu.
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