"Why I won't get married"
Hollywood heartthrob Keanu Reeves has it all... wealth, fame, good looks, and a hugely successful career. But, despite everything, there's one thing missing - a girlfriend. What's more, finding one is becoming increasingly difficult, as accusations and allegations of homosexuality range from ludicrous to just plane vicious.
The latest - that record tycoon and self confessed homosexual David Geffen has 'married' Keanu at a beach wedding - gained momentum in Hollywood's notorious gay haunts. But Keanu has had enough of it all.
"When you're in the public eye, there's always the chance of becoming a victim of something like this", he says. "I thought the whole idea was so crazy no one would believe it. I should have known better after 10 years in Hollywood ...Amazingly, though, the place has lost none of it's capacity to shock me."
The subject still makes Keanu blush. Despite his worldwide fame - gained from roles in films such as Point Break and the blockbuster Speed - he's still very shy.
"I've deliberately kept out of the gossip columns, I haven't been photographed with lots of girlfriends and I've kept my private life to myself. And this is the result," he says. "I don't feel I should have to defend myself just because I live a quiet, dull life, away from the bright lights and parties. As it is, I'm always thinking of my next film."
Keanu, 31, has worked non-stop for the past two years, putting his all into films such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, Little Buddha, A Walk In The Clouds - to be released next month - and Johnny Mnemonic, out in January... It doesn't leave much time for relationships.
"The traveling and work do get in the way," he admits. Has anyone ever been allowed to get close? "Sure, a little bit. For a short time. But I don't lead a rock 'n' roll existence, and women are hard to meet."
As for marriage, Keanu says he's not looking for it. "And I've got nowhere near. I have friends who've made the leap but it's not for me. I don't put a time on things but I expect to be single for quite a while yet."
"My parents split up when I was young", he adds, "and I've seen nothing to recommend marriage. The only woman I see regularly is my sister Kim. I love hanging out at her house and if I need an escort, she's always ready. And I talk on the phone to my mother Patricia in Canada."
"There's no real mystery about me and women", insists Keanu. "I arrived in Los Angeles from Toronto with a girlfriend, but the life wasn't for her."
If it seems the subject of relationships is weighing heavily on Keanu's mind, it could have something to do with his role in A Walk In The Clouds, in which he plays an unhappily married man. A young soldier returning from World war II, his character falls in love with the beautiful daughter of a vineyard owner.
In fact, the film is the only reason Keanu is talking at all. The elusive actor is known for his tendency to emerge in high-profile movies such as Point Break and Speed, and then to virtually disappear until the next one. "I'm frightened by the image of a 'star'," he admits. "I love the work, but I'm uncomfortable with fame. My interests don't sit easily with it. I play music, study, take ballroom-dancing lessons, horse-ride and love eating out. I also hike and read Shakespeare."
"I don't like being the center of attention. But it's getting increasingly difficult not to be noticed. The prospect of it getting worse fills me with dread."
Like it or not the headlines hound Keanu. When his Chinese-Hawaiian father Sam Reeves, 53, was jailed for 10 years in June last year for cocaine possession, the papers jumped on it. 'Speed star's nightmare with dad', they sang. No matter that Keanu hasn't seen his father since Dad walked out on his young family many years ago.
Next to attract the glare of the media were some photos from 1985, produced to publicise the play Wolfboy in Toronto, in which Keanu was shown lip-to-lip with a male actor... More fuel to the fire regarding Keanu's sexuality, which also wasn't helped by his gay role in the 1991 film My Own Private Idaho.
When his co-star from that movie, River Phoenix, died in 1993 after a drink and drugs binge, Keanu was again hunted by the media. "I don't like talking about myself at the best of times," he confesses, "and when you're having to deal with certain issues, it's difficult. As it was, I was thinking about how lucky I was rather than reflecting on River's death. I haven't always been clean living. I've tried most things, but they never became part of my lifestyle."
Such a lifestyle stems from a far from conventional upbringing. Born in Essex, his mother left the UK in the sixties, meeting his father on her travels. Keanu - his Hawaiian name means 'cool breeze over the mountains' - was born in Beirut, raised in Australia and New York and lived with his mother and sisters in Toronto, Canada, from the age of 7.
But although Keanu has settled in recent years, it seems it'll be a long time before he moves from on-screen romance to real-life commitment. "I'll be escaping the dangers of marriage until later," he says. "On that you have my word."