A profile of Hollywood's hottest heart-throb.
Keanu Reeves... they used to say he was too good-looking to be a good actor. They were wrong. They used to say he was just one of the Hollywood 'brat pack' who'd make a few films and then be forgotten. They were wrong about that too. They used to say he was a male sex object. Oh well, they can't be wrong all the time, I guess...
These days Keanu Reeves doesn't have to prove himself to anyone. His career says it all: From Bill and Ted to Little Buddha, he's taken on a huge variety of challenging roles and shown that he can play everything from screwball comedy to great drama. And now he's taking on pure adrenaline-pumping action adventure too.
His latest blockbuster, Speed, tells the improbable story of a bus which has to be kept moving at more than 50 miles an hour - otherwise it will explode! It's the kind of film that will have you, literally, on the edge of your seat and biting your (or somebody else's) fingernails. To say it's action-packed would be to do it an injustice. Car chases you've seen plenty of times. This time, get yourself ready for the best bus-chase ever to zoom across the cinema screen.
The thing Keanu really liked about the film was its cartoon-like, uncomplicated quality. "The film doesn't try to do more than it needs to," he says, "The only back story going on in Speed is the story that's living on the screen in front of you."
This magazine is about more than just that one film, however. It is also a celebration of Keanu Reeves himself - one of the most dynamic and riveting screen actors of the present day. What more can we say?
Where does the image stop and the real person begin? We reckon that no matter how hard you look you may never find the join...
People who know Keanu well say that, of all the major Hollywood stars of the present day, he is probably the least concerned with his public image. Sometimes he'll turn up to interviews and press events dressed immaculately. At other times, he'll swan in wearing a crumpled old tee-shirt that looks as though it hasn't been washed for a week.
His lack of concern about his image probably affects his choice of film roles too. After having enormous commercial success in the 'Bill and Ted' films, the safe option would have been to carry on doing wacky teen comedies. Instead, he took on a variety of quite difficult and, some might say, uncommercial roles in arty films such as Bertolucci's Little Buddha and Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing.
His other roles have ranged from the cultish, gayish film, My Private Idaho, to the decidedly mainstream romantic horror of Francis Ford Copolla's Dracula.
The interesting thing about Keanu Reeves is that you never quite know what he's going to be doing next. Certainly if you'd been asked a year or so ago to predict the kind of film he'd been doing for 1994, few people would have said he'd be starring in a fast and furious action film such as Speed. That's the kind of thing Bruce Willis or Sylvester Stallone are ready-made for. But surely not Keanu Reeves.
And yet Speed looks as though it's destined to be one of the most successful of his films to date. And that's saying something.
Keanu likes to take on new challenges and he likes to surprise people. "I don't like people telling me what to do," he says, "it infuriates me. When I don't feel free I react in a really strong way."
He's made going-against-the-grain into an art form. Nobody's going to type-cast him easily. I mean, in the coming months he'll be taking to the stage to play the title part in Shakespeare's Hamlet (of all things) and filming a futuristic cyberpunk drama for release next year. Now that's what we call going to extremes...
"I've been lucky in my career to be able to do so many different kinds of roles," he says, "It's something that I try to do as much as possible, to expand my range, and I've just been lucky to have the opportunities."
But isn't one of the dangers of talking on so many different parts that he could end up being a bit of a Jack of All Trades? He thinks not. He willingly admits that he doesn't always act as well as he'd like to (he dislikes his portrayal of Jonathan Harker in Dracula, for example) but he says that, on the whole, he does bring a certain personal quality to each part he plays - "The only consistency I can see in my work upon reflection is that there's always been an innocence in my characterisations," he says. But then he adds, tellingly, "That's changing."
Given the maturity of his recent performances, we suspect that no matter how much his acting may change, it can only go from good to great and from great to greater.
Watch that man!
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING...
A collection of fascinating facts for K.R. fans to love, cherish and bore their friends with down the pub one Saturday night.
His dad is half Hawaiian and half Chinese, his mother is English. Keanu's parents are now divorced.
He doesn't like watching himself on screen. He says, "Sometimes I'll watch things to check out how I look but usually I don't bother."
He has two sisters - one is two years younger than him, the other is twelve years younger.
The, film of Much Ado About Nothing was filmed in and around the Italian villa in which the great Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, is said to have painted his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa.
Keanu says the worst thing about being famous, is "losing out on love!"
He is a millionaire.
Keanu is deeply into the mysteries of Life, The Universe, and Everything. He was very impressed by the top-selling book, A Brief History of Time, by the amazingly clever Cambridge professor, Stephen Hawking. Keanu's opinion of Hawking: "That Professor Hawking, man, is one heavy dude'
He was kicked out of three different schools for causing trouble.
His childhood ambition was to become either a racing-driver or an inventor.
He was born in Beirut in Lebanon. His family then moved to America and Keanu lived in New York until he was six years of age. Since then he's lived mainly in Toronto and Los Angeles.
If Keanu offers you a ride on his motorbike, you might like to consider taking a bus instead. "I'm an awful rider," he admits, "I once got broadsided by a car and ended up going from the middle of the intersection, doing a somersault and landing on the sidewalk on my back. These two kids ran up to me and one of them yelled 'Wow, man, you flew!'
Keanu says that one of his best subjects at school was Latin!
Critics keep complaining that Keanu's foreign accents in films aren't all that convincing. In particular, his 'English' accent in Dracula came in for a lot of criticism. "I didn't think that accent was that bad," he says. "But supposedly it was."
He loved filming Little Buddha in the Himalayas - "I was very happy to be in Kathmandu," he says, "...it was incredible. The cows in the road." But he had reservations about the encroachment of tourism. "Down these 900-year-old cities with cows and children and houses that barely have electricity, you know. Mercedes-Benz tourist buses with windows that don't open full of a hundred tourists totally enclosed in their environment..."
His first encounter with acting was when he went to the Theatre Arts High School in Toronto. He never finished the course, though.
On one occasion, Keanu was rescued by American rock star, Tom Petty. It happened after Keanu had been through California and his car broke down on a road in the middle of the desert. The first person to see if he could help, turned out to be none other than Mr. Petty. Keanu later featured in one of Tom Petty's videos.
Keanu is 6ft 1 in. tall.
He has twice played gay roles. To publicise a play called Wolfboy in Toronto, he once had photographs taken kissing his fellow actor, Carl Marotte. The photographer, David Hlynsky, commented, "The city's gay community was turned on by Keanu and still is. I know he and his mother Patricia were happy with the pictures because she told, me so." Keanu's second gay role was as a male prostitute in the film, My Private Idaho.
Actor/director, Kenneth Branagh, was well pleased with Keanu's performance as the baddy, Don John, in the film of Much Ado About Nothing. "Keanu worked his ass off on this," Branagh said, "He even grew a beard which gave a certain edge to his appearance. Actually, he was scary to be around sometimes because the part stayed with him, he was intense. He gives a really mouldering performance."
He nearly turned down the film Speed because he thought his character was unbelievable and kept making silly jokes. However, when he met the director, Jan De Bont, the two men got on so well that they decided they wanted to work together on the film - and the script got re-written.
If you like to go to bed early, you wouldn't want Keanu as a neighbour. He often likes to ride his motorbike at midnight!
When he was a kid he used to sling chestnuts at his teachers heads!
Keanu has some scars, on his tummy. No, they're not appendix scars. They were caused when he crashed his motorbike.
THE REEVES' TALE
Words, words and more words - and all of them uttered by the man himself.
"When I see stuff in LA. now I realise how safe and sheltered my upbringing was."
"Don't think I've always been human."
"People try to peg me as a space cadet, but that's probably because of the character I play in both Bill and Ted movies."
"I'm not interested in doing stories that have gratuitous or ugly extremities that serve no purpose in the story, that are just pornography or gratuitous violence. But I won't hesitate working in a film responsibly depicts topics of that nature."
"I'm very much interested in becoming a better actor."
"Did you know that we only use about one tenth of our brain?"
"When my life is over I'll be remembered for playing Ted."
"I've stunk in some films."
"I like my body and I know what it feels like when I'm in good shape - but I don't want to work at it all the time. Sometimes I do but if I'm not feeling as cool then I get Into my whole other worlds and going to the gym is not at the top of my list."
"I love performing and I love appearing on the big screen so if I can fit four movies into a year then why not?"
"You know, I thought Bill and Ted was great clown work."
"Retirement - that's what we've got to took forward to. A hundred movies in the can and time to relax on a warm beach. Isn't that a totally awesome idea?"
Keanu from A to Z
A Alex Winter - who played Bill to Keanu's Ted in the Bill and Ted films, 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' (1989) and 'Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey' (1991). In the first film, Bill and Ted travel through time to meet Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, Joan of Arc and other notable historical figures. In Bogus Journey they even manage to get to Heaven and Hell and meet up with Albert Einstein; A Walk In The Clouds is likely to be the next film, after Speed, in which we'll be seeing Keanu. It is directed by Alfonso Arau.
B Bill and Ted - he starred as Ted in both the Bill and Ted films. He reckons those films appealed to people in a lot of different ways: "The child in me can dig watching them but I also find a lot of the stuff they do very clever and I dig the 'be excellent to each other' idea, you know. That's beautiful."; Bernardo Bertolucci, who directed Little Buddha.
C Charles - his middle name.
D Dracula (1992) - in which he played the vampire hunter, Jonathan Harker; Dog Star - the name of a remarkably little known rock band featuring Keanu on bass guitar. His own opinion of their music is: "We're terrible."; Dangerous Liaisons - Stephen Frears' film in which Keanu played an 18th century French musician, Chevalier Danceny.
E Excitement - a major component of the film, Speed. Excellent - Bill and Ted's Adventure.
F Flying - name of a 1986 film about gymnasts, featuring an early appearance by Keanu.
G Gibson (William) - one of the leading modern science fiction authors, the man who made 'cyberpunk' popular, has written the script for Johnny Mnemonic (see 'J').
H Hamlet - Shakespeare's tale of blood, death and vengeance in Denmark. Keanu is currently preparing to play the title role on the stage. He starts rehearsals this December. He admits that he may be taking on more than he can chew to play this difficult role - "I haven't played any of the larger parts in Shakespeare. I've played Mercutio and I've played Trinculo from The Tempest... so to play the second largest part in Shakespeare in probably one of the greatest pieces of dramaturgy in the history of Western literature - it's a bit daunting."
I I Love You To Death (1990) - a black comedy with an all-star cast including Kevin Kline, William Hurt, River Phoenix and Tracy Ullman.
J Jack Traven - the name of his character in Speed; Johnny Mnemonic - the name of a film to be released during 1995 in which Keanu will play the part of a 21st century courier - a man whose head has the information-storing capacity of a large computer; Jan de Bont, who directed Speed; Jurassic Park - was not one of his favourite films. In fact, he has described it as "bordering on evil" and has said "it made my stomach sick".
K Keanu - obviously. The correct pronunciation of the name is 'Kee-an-yu'. It is a Hawaiian name which translates as 'Cool Breeze'.
L Little Buddha - the film in which he donned a loin cloth.
M My Own Private Idaho (1991) - weird and wonderful film in which Keanu co-stars with River Phoenix. The film tells the story of Scott Favor (Reeves), the son of the mayor of Portland and Mike Waters (Phoenix), a narcoleptic male prostitute; Much Ado About Nothing - the Shakespearean film in which he starred, directed by Kenneth Branagh.
N Nepal - where he filmed Little Buddha; The Night Before - name of an unmemorable 1988 comedy about high school kids in which Keanu starred.
O Only Cowgirls Get The Blues - a film in which he coo-starred with Uma Thurman.
P Point Break (1991) - prior to Speed the closest Keanu got to playing in an all-thrills-and-action movie. He said of that film "I enjoyed the respectability of appearing in a mature role opposite Patrick Swayze and Gary Busey."; Parenthood (1989) - the name of. the film in which he starred with Steve Martin and Martha Plimpton. It is a warm-hearted and wacky comedy about (as if you hadn't guessed!) parenthood; Permanent Record and Prince Of Pennsylvania - two films made in 1988. Permanent Record is a drama about a teenager's suicide in which Keanu plays the friend of the dead boy. Prince of Pennsylvania is a comedy which is most notable for Keanu's extremely odd haircut.
Q Quality - the kind of acting we've come to expect from Mr Reeves.
R River Phoenix - he was a close friend of the star who died so tragically earlier this year. He says, "River was a really heavy actor, man, he was the best. It helped me a lot to work with him. He was really inspiring and intelligent."; River's Edge - a 1986 film in which he starred alongside Dennis Hopper. Tells the story of a group of teenagers who try to come to terms with the murder of a girl by one of their friends. This disturbing tale was based on a real-life incident.
S Speed - and if you don't know what that is, what're you doing with this mag?; Shakespeare - having acted in one notable Shakespearean film, (see 'M'), Keanu has said that he'd like to take on more of the Bard's great role in future. "I read Shakespeare and I love to speak it," he says. Well, if Mel Gibson can play Hamlet, I guess anything could happen...oh, and on the subject of Hamlet, see 'H'.
T Templeton - believe it or not, when he first started making films, the studio bosses wanted him to change his name - to Templeton Page Taylor!; Theatre - he says he'd like to do more live theatrical performances in future; Tune In Tomorrow... (1990) - a comedy in which Keanu plays Martin Loader-, a young man who falls in love with his sexy aunt (Barbara Herschey). The film is set in 1951 New Orleans and also stars Peter ('Columbo') Falk.
U Underwear - boxers, Calvin Klein's, none at all?
V Vampires- he's a keen vampire fan. His favourite vampire films are the silent version of Nosferatu and Nicolas Cage's Vampire's Kiss. He doesn't dislike Francis Ford Copolla's 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' either; Van Sant (Gus) - the director of My Private Idaho.
W Wall - his school nickname, it referred to his formidable style of playing hockey; Wolfboy - the name of a play in which Keanu acted early in his career. He played the part of a gay delinquent who has a relationship with another boy in reform school.
X X-Rated - as in Bram Stoker's Dracula
Y Youngblood - 1986 film. Basically a Rob Lowe vehicle but featuring Keanu in a minor role.
Z Zaphod Beeblebrox - a two headed alien in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. History does not record whether or not Keanu Reeves has ever read, heard or watched The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy but at least Zaphod begins with a 'Z' and one out of two ain't bad.
Keanu Reeves Starscope
Astrologer to the stars, Quentin de la Folle, casts a beady eye into the mists of time and sees some triumphs and some turmoil.
DATE OF BIRTH: September 2nd, 1964
The heady fragrance of romance is wafted on an orange-blossom breeze towards Keanu during the months ahead. But there will be complications! Two different people will be romantically associated with Mr Reeves - and there could also be the whiff of scandal!
Careerwise, there will be some ups and downs in 95. The year may start off on the rocks of despondency but a sea change will lift Keanu onto the crest of a wave of glittering success. This will be a year of important decisions - and it could be the start of a startling new phase.
Months to watch are: December '94, May '95 and August '95.