TV Hits (UK), July 1994

This is your life

Full Name: Keanu Charles Reeves

Pronounced: Kee-ahn-yu, not Kee-a-noo!
Date of birth: September 2, 1964, Starsign: Libra
Place of birth: Beirut, The Lebanon
Favourite role as an actor: Mercutio in Romeo And Juliet, "because he's so full of passion, wisdom and anger".
Dream role: If he could play any historical figure it would be the French Poet Rimbaud (pronounced Rambo, but not quite the same thing!), "He sort of appeals to my self-destructive, artistic, cool kind of deep side."

the early years...

Keanu has a pretty exotic background, "My mom's English and my dad's half-Hawaiian and half-Chinese, but they're divorced now." There are also a couple of female members of the Reeves clan. He's got two little sisters - one two years younger and the baby of the brood, who came into the world twelve years after her famous brother. As a youngster, Keanu was one well-travelled lad - after leaving Beirut, he spent much of his childhood in Australia, lived in New York 'til the age of six and then spent most of his time in Toronto, Canada. "When I see stuff in LA now, I realise how safe and sheltered my upbringing was. We didn't even do graffiti, y'know? We did sling chestnuts at teachers' heads and stuff! Toronto's become like a shopping centre now, though."

a star in the making...

Despite being a high school drop-out, Keanu scored his first break in a Canadian Coca-Cola advert. The fizzy drink debut then lead to a television series, Hanging In, at the tender age of 16. He was 22 when he made his first film, Youngblood, with Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze - the story of a novice ice-hockey player who has to undergo a bizarre baptism in fire before his team-mates will have anything to do with him! The one that really got Keanu noticed, though, came a year later - a spooky thriller called River's Edge, "Oh it's a cult classic! It's a beautiful script and there was some great acting in it. It was just a really special film - the despair of American youth!" Well, it was the start of something great, because, since those early years, Keanu has made no less than nineteen films and he's still going strong!

he's his own teacher...

When Keanu didn't even graduate from the Theatre Arts School in Toronto, who'd have dreamed he'd become the mega star he is today? Well, he certainly didn't! "I always wanted to be a racing car driver or an inventor!" he says... so how on earth did he end up one of the hottest young actors in Hollywood? "I'm an autodidact". (i.e. he taught himself everything he knows!) "I read a lot and, although I've lived in LA since 1985, I try to travel too. Each moment is precious to me."

"excellent!"...

Way before Wayne's World had us all screeching "Party On!", Keanu was playing a high school-weary heavy metal dude having way-out parties (man!) in Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure. But, despite being a comedy, the movie was hard work for Keanu and his co-star Alex Winter. "Bill and Ted was a fun film, right? Kind of silly, good-hearted, fun! But I tell ya it demanded all my skills as an actor". But after two Bill And Ted films, Keanu decided it was time to move on to more serious things, "I don't want to play Ted again - but it might be interesting when I'm forty!"

the serious side...

After a series of comedy roles - a small part in Parenthood, and a reunion with Patrick Swayze for the action-packed Point Break, came a stream of "serious acting" parts - and people began to realise that he was no dumbo. One of the most important has to be as Scottie in My Own Private Idaho, which proved a very 'deep' experience for Keanu. "I was introduced to so many elements through the guy I was playing. My imagination, the director's interpretation, Shakespeare... it was rich! It was just bottomless man! You could go as far as you could go, y'know? It was an invitation to play!"

tragic events...

When Keanu was filming My Own Private Idaho in 1991, he and River Phoenix became really close friends. After River tragically died of a drug overdose, of course everyone was dying to hear what Keanu had to say. He's never been keen to talk about it, though, other than to say, "I wish he wasn't dead, I miss him very much. Drugs... and emotions are the biggest problems at the moment - because people are so casual about both of them."

in love with Winona...

In 1992 Keanu got together with Winona Ryder for Bram Stoker's Dracula. He played Joanthan Harker, who is in love with Winona's vampire character, Mina. The Englishness of that role and his earlier brush with Shakespeare must have given him a taste for period dramas, though, because a year later we saw him charging along on a horse in Kenneth Branagh's much-acclaimed version of Much Ado About Nothing.

Far out maan...

Keanu may have played some goofy characters in his time but behind that stupid grin in the Bill And Ted films, there lurks a deeply-thinking guy! When he's preparing for a part, Keanu really gets himself psyched up for it, getting his mental attitude just right. "Stuff comes up that you never even thought of. I look for physical things, background things and where the character's emotionally at for every second. I'm pretty flexible". For example, when he was in Tibet making Little Buddha, in which he plays a Tibetan Prince, Keanu read up on Buddhism and took to meditation and yoga for the part, saying "I have to re-examine my whole belief system".

The pop star...

Keanu has already had a brush with the music biz when he appeared in Paula Abdul's video for Rush Rush, and even then he took the role very seriously, "I really studied the film Rebel Without A Cause - but then I realised I could never do a James Dean! It didn't work!" And that's as far as his music career's going to go! "I'm not cool enough for a music video. I think I'll stick to acting!"

the price of fame...

For anyone who works as hard as Keanu, there's bound to be something missing in life. "The biggest sacrifice I make in life is the chance of success is love," he admits. Despite being one of Hollywood's most eligible bachelors, Keanu isn't one for celebrity Hollywood romances and he's never even come close to getting married, "I've known some incredible women, but I've just never proposed to any of them... and I've never been proposed to either!"

easy rider...

Although he seems a permanent fixture on one film set or another, Keanu does make sure he indulges in his favourite hobby - riding Norton Commando motorbike. But only on the streets of downtown LA in the early hours, "I'll go out at midnight and ride till four, just seein' who's doin' what where."

Too shy...

Keanu happily talks about his films and acting, but when it comes to his private life he keeps his affairs strictly to himself, saying "I don't like to talk to strangers about myself or personal things - I'm quite an awkward speaker". He won't even admit that his success is phenomenal. "Each time I finish something I remind myself that I'm unemployed again, so I just try and do the best I can and hope that other people will appreciate it!".

The future

Keanu’s next film is Speed, the action-packed movie in which he plays a SWAT cop on an LA bus loaded with dynamite which’ll go off if the bus goes below 50 miles an hour! He's also just finished the strangely-titled Johnny Mneumonic, and next month he begins filming the period romance, A Walk In The Clouds on the west coast of America.




Tagged:

Romeo & Juliet , Coca-Cola Commercial , Hangin' In , Youngblood , River's Edge , Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure , Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey , Parenthood , Point Break , My Own Private Idaho , Bram Stoker's Dracula , Much Ado About Nothing , Little Buddha , Rush, Rush , Speed , Johnny Mnemonic , A Walk in the Clouds




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