An actor much more than his star appeal
Biases always get to define the tonality of appreciation that constructs the image of stars, especially those of the quality of Keanu Reeves. Yet, at the same time there are few like Reeves, now 51, whose journey in Hollywood and progression in a phenomenal career bows down prejudices that have time and again attempted to thwart his strong acting resume.
It’s quite hard to describe how Keanu Reeves would describe himself. Not a big fan of using words or elaborate sentences that stench of self-contained ego, Keanu is every thinking man’s actor. He is at least 51 movie old in a cinematic journey that has inspired awe and elevated the movie going experiences with such hits like A Walk in the Clouds, The Devil’s Advocate, Speed, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Sweet November, The Matrix trilogy and John Wick to quote a few, and has managed to remain off limits to a star hungry media that borders on madness in its pursuit of trespassing a star’s private life. There is far more substance to the flair that those mystic and seemingly sad eyes contain.
A well sculpted body, refined by an intense regimen that often goes beyond that mechanical emporium known to create muscles, Keanu is not a gym-goer and that solid frame despite entering the fifty club has often been charred by alcohol though not defined by it. There has been a history of nicotine abuse and it still persists, but no matter what you believe, wish to read or insist on trusting- Keanu is as fit, good looking and charming as he was when he first shot to fame during his laugh riot mad hat comedy, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. It isn’t just the fans and those women walking down a jersey store, or a mall, shopping arcade or the many pubs like Whiskey a Go Go insist on believing. Even Reeve’s critics who sadly lament him for being wooden in his expressions when he is anything but that contend that he is perhaps ageless and defies logic with how he looks today given that he is well beyond his sterling days of the youth.
Common commuters in the United States and Canada have often bumped into a man they never thought they would find inside a metro rail or waiting, but in a que at a subway station and even inside a grocery-store. This fine mid aged man has often been sighted giving up his seat to the elderly inside the busiest of New York subway stations when traveling in broad daylight. To the restaurant owner he obliges with a few rounds of pictures posing with a beer in hand and on more occasions that one, has been seen walking down the road as a commoner. This is how Reeves conducts himself despite easily affording the privileges he came to earn in a career whose gross earnings exceed USD 2, 908, 428, 200 in total.
A checkered career with versatile performances
Keanu first shot to fame when he starred in a wacky Coca Cola commercial way back in the early eighties, an ad that brought him to attention being shot in the cool of Canada’s biting winter. The Lebanon born star whose name literally means ‘cool breeze over the mountains’ has had a memorable and soulful journey at Hollywood where he first arrived driving his Volvo all over from Canada with only a few bucks in his torn jeans.
Never muscle armed or loud mouthed talking nonsense and plain gibberish in the hyped world of Hollywood that chooses to lip synch punchy lines over honest self-expressions, Keanu like every other actor struggled hard but never gave up. In a highly successful career where his starry image has often been described as possessing the gift of sublime for those god-gifted looks and that soulful voice that seems to have witnessed life from enormous depths, he has struck a chord with the movie going audience that have fallen for his simple mannerisms, acting charisma and a life that has refused to bow down to a string of personal tragedies that have often weighed Reeves down but not failed him.
Keanu was often ridiculed for being unexpressive even though he seemed to have had this natural inclination toward serious roles. His career peaked with the action thriller Speed where as Jack Traven, the super cop, he rescued many endangered lives on a bus marked by the imminent threat of a bomb explosion. In rescuing his on screen partner Sandra Bullock, one of the co-passenger’s on the popular 2525 troubled bus, Reeves began a long list of on screen collaborations with his favorite co-star, Bullock, one with whom audiences swayed to ethereal magic in their flawless chemistry in The Lake House (2005). Keanu, the part funny, part intense actor got his mesmeric break in the 1999 release The Matrix. As Neo, he would dive deep into the human sub consciousness toward a world of mental power that could evade bullet avalanches as easily as it would master martial arts moves over the evils of the mind. The sci-fi science thriller catapulted Reeves into a league where he became the highest paid actor of 2000, thumping the popular Tom’s of Hollywood; Cruise and Hanks.
Doing the most challenging roles
In a world where a single success is often an irrepressible blow to stoke the petty ego of an actor who thinks he is bigger than his movies, Keanu ever so silently went from one enigmatic role to the other.
He was the romantic war-returning soldier who romanced Aitana Sanchez, the Spanish beauty in A Walk in the Clouds, the ball coach in Hardball, the petty thief who bungled a big time bank robbery in the recent Henry’s Crime and the butt-kicking bullet blazer in the mega hit action packed John Wick. For romance, he enthralled the ladies with his timeless act with Charlise Theron in the enchanting and often sobbing Sweet November(2001) and the more likeable The Lake Park(2005) where Reeves acted only through his eyes, returning the soft glowing look of love in Sandra Bullock’s eyes.
But, amidst the effusive love he received for his versatile mastery of such finely acted roles, one often overlooks his astounding skill as the ravaged and completely confused and isolated gay lover of the late River Phoenix in Gus Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho”, a film widely regarded as one of Reeves least successful but most impactful hit. Keanu further threw critics into oblivion playing none other than Siddharth Gautam Buddh in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Little Buddha (1993). Reeves conveyed the soulful and transformational journey of Gautam the Prince, Siddharth the heretic and ultimately, Buddha the enlightened one. The final scene where he attains Nirvana amidst being plundered with fire and ignominy of venom as inflicted by the monsters saw Reeves’ inner monk-like self coming to the forefront of the poise, silence and calm as only the Buddha could have resonated. It also has to be mentioned that Keanu volunteered for a pay-cut only to accommodate Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate and upon completion of the Matrix series, gifted Christmas presents to each and every crew member of the box office mega-hit. How many actors really do that?
A life lived amidst endless tragedies
Keanu once hoped of being a father while still with his late girlfriend Jennifer Syme Reeves who many think the mega star married in person, though no records go on to convey the truth. One late evening as Jennifer was driving her Cherooke jeep to meet Reeves in California, her truck collided with a tree at a high speed curve. She died on spot and was several months pregnant. This tragedy came only a few years post his most devastating loss.
Keanu was closest to his sister who he lost to Leukemia while he held her hand by her bedside, a place where he read his scripts and often ate peanuts and sipped water for nights in succession. If this hurt wasn’t enough to damage his pious soul, god gave him yet another blow. With best friend River Phoenix’s death, one with whom he shared an intense friendship, Keanu was robbed of his only friend in Hollywood.
Ever since losing out on his loved ones, Reeves never bought a house or car for himself and from the period of late 90’s to the present day, is rumored to be living a loner’s life at the popular Chateau Marmont in up market Los Angeles. His silent and nomadic existence has often left him engage in an ultra wild display of stunt biking, even indulging in the maddening skill of going on ‘demon rides’, driving at nights sans any lights on the bike.
Reeves, a self confessed bike devotee has a personal collection of Norton and Ducati bikes and would you believe it, has even self-designed bikes bringing a host of them under the commercial banner called Arch Motorcycle Company. His KRGT- 1 is a modified bike created by Reeves who is miles away from engineering. He is known to travel to Europe every year on his seasoned bikes where an entourage of 42 takes Keanu to Paris’ jazz cafes to the Carpathian Mountains in Romania.
If he is soulful, then what is it that he seeks? If he is sad then where is his sadness taking him. How does Keanu Reeves, now 51 perform death defying martial art stunts at an age where his contemporaries sport beer-bellies, just what is this enigma we call Keanu Charles Reeves? May be, the answer lies in his ever searching eyes that seem as determined on finding life’s meaning through his soulful pilgrimage, where it seems only Keanu is the lonesome traveler and us can only decipher his next move.