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 card.
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 (see CREDITS) 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 Buddha.
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 office.
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 II.
The 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.
In 2000, Keanu went on to film three more films, The Gift, Sweet November, and Hardball.
There are many more projects lining up for Keanu's attention, not the least of which is a commitment to do two sequels to The Matrix, tentatively scheduled to shoot back-to-back in the spring, summer and fall of 2001 for release in 2003. Check out the News section for the latest info.
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