One of the most famous movie stars in the world visited London in January. Nobody knew he was here. Nobody was supposed to. Keanu Reeves acted like a regular American tourist. And he almost got away with it.
Tuesday Dec 29 1992:
Smash Hits journalist Anita is sending a fax when she becomes engrossed in an in-depth conversation about the works and loves of Keanu Reeves. A photo stylist pipes up, "Oh, Keanu Reeves! I was in that club Tongue Kung Fu in Covent Garden last night and he was there! He was on his own, drinking a bottle of..." "Are you sure?" asks a sceptical Anita. "If Keanu was in town he'd have been surrounded by photographers and bodyguards. It was probably someone who just looked like him." It couldn't have been Keanu. Could it?
Wednesday Dec 30 1992:
Picture/features person Leesa Daniels is lunching with her dad in the Soho Pizzeria, an ordinary Italian pizza restaurant about 45 seconds' walk away from the Smash Hits Carnaby Street office. Her eyes are drawn to a rather good looking young man who, from a distance, looks exactly like Keanu Reeves. "Keanu," noticeably thinner than usual but still very healthy looking, is dressed in jeans and a shirt. He is accompanied by a rather good looking blonde girl dressed all in black. As Leesa's father carries on talking about a new kitchen extension, Leesa is transfixed by the sight of this young Keanu replica. "Hang on," she ponders, "a top showbiz celeb like Keanu should be dining out somewhere posh and expensive, not the restaurant that all the Smash Hits crew go to for modest birthday celebrations and dinners with their dads." 30 minutes later, he still looks uncannily like Keanu. With two sightings in one week, this must be more than coincidence...
Saturday Jan 9 1993:
Kate Davies, a fellow journalist, goes to see Shakespeare's Hamlet at London's Barbican Theatre. Before curtain-up, Kate and her friend go to the coffee bar. Suddenly, her friend begins to stare incredulously at a man over Kate's shoulder. "Don't look now," she whispers, 'but that's Keanu Reeves standing behind you." Subtly, Kate immediately looks round and there he is. No doubt. That is definitely Keanu Reeves standing less than ten feet away with a male friend. Keanu's wearing a brown jacket and woollen hat and is drinking coffee and ... putting his coffee down and ... playing air guitar! In the interval, Kate clocks Keanu gazing admiringly at one of the many pottery displays on view in the theatre foyer.
Keanu is next spotted later that same night in a Soho pub. Fabulous, the up and coming rowdy pop group, are in the same pub being interviewed by Vogue. They recognise Keanu, get into conversation and discover a mutual interest in late '70s groups like The Buzzcocks and The Jam. Keanu, who is accompanied by a young chap called Robert who plays in Keanu's band Dog Star, is invited to join Fabulous at a late night club in The Haymarket called Smashing. Fabulous leave for the club thinking no more of it. At Smashing, the hellraising Fabs quaff beer and discuss their forthcoming single. They are pleasantly surprised to see Keanu and his pals stroll in and before long they are all deep in pop conversation, drinking Heineken together like old mates. Keanu even dances to the Bugsy Malone theme. As they leave, Fabulous invite Keanu and Robert to join them on Tuesday for a jam session at the Fabs' recording studio.
Monday Jan 11 1993:
10pm. A lone freelance photographer, Steve Jackson, waits outside The Blake Hotel in Kensington -- Keanu's "secret" London home. Only it's not quite the secret it should be for, though Steve is the only photographer to have tracked him down, half a dozen of Keanu's most ardent fans have traced him here and are camped outside in perpetual anticipation. At 2.30am on Tuesday morning their patience is rewarded. A taxi pulls up and out steps Keanu. Rather than do the showbiz thing of disappearing into the safety of his hotel, he takes time to speak to his fans. He spends a good quarter of an hour chatting amiably about his love for Norton and Harley Davidson motorbikes. Steve, who's politely waited for Keanu to finish talking, asks the star if he'd mind posing for a few photos. Keanu is happy to oblige, despite it being late and very cold. Keanu tells Steve he has been to see Hamlet (which stars his good mate, Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh) at the Barbican again. Keanu is primarily in London for a holiday, but is also working on two new films which required him to come to England: an adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing (not so coincidentally produced by his good mate, English Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh) and a film called Little Buddha.
Tuesday Jan 12 1993:
Fabulous sit around their recording studio tinkering with their instruments and waiting for Keanu. True to his promise, he turns up, accompanied by members of Dog Star, a couple of unknown American actors and -- somewhat surprisingly -- ex Home And Away star Mouche Phillips (boyfriend Les Hill is engaged in panto tonight) who Keanu befriended the night before on the London celebrity circuit. An impromptu pop-summit soon decrees that, if Fabulous and Dog Star are to sing together, they should be called Dogulous for the night. Dogulous it is then. Keanu plays bass (rather well it has to be said) while Fabulous singer Simon Dudfield croons gleefully into the microphone -- all agree that it is a fine sound indeed. Heinekens are supplied and old Buzzcocks and Ramones songs belted out, along with a rendition of the forthcoming Fabs' single, the Rolling Stones' Get Off Of My Cloud. Mouche joins them to sing the classic love song Sweet Jane by Lou Reed. Fabulous, Keanu and Mouche rock their way through the night until Keanu finally accepts he has to call it a day if he is to make his flight back to America. All excellent things must come to an end and, reluctantly, Keanu bids his English pop chums goodbye and heads off back to his hotel, making sure that Fabulous promise to go out to visit Keanu in Los Angeles in March.
Wednesday Jan 13 1993:
Keanu gets up, packs his guitar case and bag and heads for Heathrow airport in a taxi. He boards his flight to Los Angeles. And then Keanu -- actor, would be pop star and lover of everything British -- is gone.