Keanu's enlightening role
by Richard Wallace
KEANU Reeves's role as a mystic Buddhist lama may surprise those who remember him as the guitar-wielding dude in the Bill And Ted movies.
But Keanu, whose Hawaiian first name means "cool breeze over the mountains", was into Bhuddism before he took the role of The Enlightened One in Little Buddha.
British actor Brian Blessed helped Keanu understand the religion. They met while working on Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing in Italy last year.
"There was something about Brian which made me think that he meditated.
"So I asked him if he would teach me about it. He taught me a basic, very simple meditation,'' says Keanu who was, born in Beirut and raised in Australia, New York and Toronto.
"I spent a lot of time examining the life of Buddha and trying to equate it with my own existence.
"It certainly touched me,'' he says.
"I'd never practised any meditation or realised there was so much latent energy in the human body.''
Keanu - pronounced kee-ah-noo - credits the religion for his transfomation from teenage dude to serious actor.
But he has not lost the laid back style that has made him one of the hippest young actors on screen.
He admits to enjoying the female attention that brings.
"I'm pretty vain, I like to stay in touch with my body. I do weights, go running.
"And I do enjoy flirting. "