New Weekly (Aus), January 23, 1995
Sam Reeves; 'I want Keanu back in my life'
Keanu Reeves' father is a jailed drug addict whose only wish is to meet his famous son and say 'howdy, what's up?'
Story by Mike Knapp
Samuel Reeves knew his sordid life had hit rock bottom when prison wardens started playing the movie of the week in the maximum security jail he now calls home. There, on the screen, was his son, Hollywood heart-throb Keanu Reeves. It was the closest the father had come to his boy in 15 long years - half of Keanu's life.
Sam watched, speechless, as Keanu put in a stunning performance in the action thriller, Point Break. Then, as he walked slowly and sadly back to his cramped cell, his fellow inmates broke into a spontaneous round of applause.
The deep, bitter family rift that haunts the two men had reared its head again.
Keanu, 30, a film hero of his generation, is worth an estimated $8 million per film and is fast on his way to becoming a Hollywood legend. The man he calls dad is washed up at 53 and serving a ten-year stretch for drug offences.
Now, for the first time, Sam has spoken of his torment and revealed the truth about the son he lost. In an exclusive interview from inside harsh Halawa Correctional Facility on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Sam said: "Watching that film for the first time really choked me up. It brought it all home to me, how low I'd got and how far I was from my son. And it made me realise one thing above all else - how much I want Keanu back in my life."
Sam decided to speak out after other family members branded him an uncaring father who abandoned Keanu and is now hated by him. Sam says the real reason he lost touch was because his mother had a furious row with Keanu's English mother, Patric Aaron, over the house the family was living in.
"After I split up with Patric when Keanu was five, I kept in touch. We drifted apart because she wanted to live in New York and I wanted to come back to Hawaii, that was all. For ten years we stayed friendly and visited regularly. Keanu grew up happily as my son until he was 15. Then the two women had their little war. I was totally innocent, but I was kind of snatched away from my family. Patric decided I couldn't contact her or our children. I was completely shut out of their lives. That hurt a lot."
"I don't believe Keanu really hates me, because he knows the score. If he has any resentment at all, it should be towards his mother, because she's the one who kept us apart all these years. Can you believe how stupid it all is? Some bullshit row over a house has lead to all this unhappiness."
Sam met Patric, whose real name is Patricia, when she was dancing in an all-girl venue in Beirut.
"Keanu's mother was 19, beautiful and fun to be with,", he recalls. "We got married and set off travelling the world. We went to Australia, Canada, Europe, and the States. We were like nomads. Then, when the children came along, we decided to settle down in New York. Keanu was born in Beirut and Kim arrived a year later in Sydney. Patric and I were together for seven years before I got itchy feet and came back to Hawaii."
Keanu's mother, now 51, has since remarried Hollywood director Paul Aaron and lives with him in Los Angeles. Kim, now 29, lives nearby. Sam strongly denies reports that neglect turned Keanu into a brooding, troubled soul with few friends and a stilted love-life. He says: "Keanu was a great kid, very even tempered and easy to get on with. The kind of kid everyone likes. People say he's over-sensitive, but he was always a little different from other children. I think his sensitivity comes from his independent nature.
"When Keanu was five years old he could cross the streets of New York on his own. That was the level of his confidence and independence. He's sensitive because he likes to be left alone with his own thoughts, not because of any rubbish-talk about how I've scarred him for life."
Sam also dismissed rumours his son may be gay, but he admitted: "Keanu has never had a girlfriend that I know of, not even when he was a teenager. But that's his style - he's not the kind of person to show off his friends."
Sam doubts Keanu is disgusted by his father's history of drug abuse and dealing either - the actor is reported to have dabbled with drugs himself, but was shocked into giving them up after the death of close friend and fellow star River Phoenix. Sam says: "I've been a heavy cocaine and heroin user for maybe 20 years. The whole family knew about it, and their view was that they expected me to go to jail one day. I heard that River's death really freaked him out and taught him a lesson. The one thing I would say to Keanu if I could is this: 'Don't do what I did. Don't screw up your life on drugs'."
Sam was jailed last June after bringing heroin and cocaine into Hawaii. He is due to be released as early as June, 1995 - after serving just 12 months of his sentence. "I don't expect Keanu to visit me in jail, but I'm going to try to contact him when I get out," he says. "It's been kind of fun watching him grow into a big star. It's reminded me of how gifted he was as a child - very artistic and sociable and a good mimic. I'd just like to call him and say 'Howdy, what's up?'"
Keanu fans can join the Keanu International Fan Network by writing to PO Box 99, Merrylands, NSW 2160, for a membership form.
1. Sam Reeves seated unsmiling on a stone prison bench, wearing short-sleeved brown sweatshirt, brown trousers and thongs. He has a very square Hawaiian face, all his hair (still mostly dark), and looks strong and robust.
2. Halawa Correctional Facility. It doesn't look that bad, actually; ornamental flowering bushes and shrubs around a white wall, set in a well-vegetated hollow.
3. Sam Reeves behind a barred door.
4. Keanu! Looks fairly recent, hair growing out, seated in full sunlight with a big tractor wheel behind him. He is wearing tattered jeans and a brown T-shirt with a white stain on it, his hair is tousled, faint moustache, looking up with a sweet rueful smile. Nice!