BB (US), June 1996

Keanu As Shy Guy?

Keanu Reeves is one star who isn't basking in the limelight

Given that Keanu has been appearing in films for over 10 of his 31 years, it may seem strange to accuse him of being timid. But the star of this month's Feeling Minnesota "is really shy," his friends have told People magazine. Perhaps this is why Keanu often practices introverted behavior in the form of long, solo motorcycle rides in the desert and spends more time working than socializing. Keanu himself has admitted, "I'm a very private person."

In fact, the Canadian actor was bashful even as a boy. "I was kinda shy in school," Keanu's said, "but I also had the class-clown element about me. I was removed, but I was involved."

Perhaps it was those class-clown tendencies that allowed the otherwise shy guy to become a performer. Though acting may seem a weird career choice for someone who enjoys solitude, the intensity of his work takes much concentration. "I tend to focus on what I'm doing," he's said. Of course, acting also allows him to become someone else - perhaps someone less shy.

What's interesting about Keanu is that even when he's the star on the set, he doesn't demand attention. He's quite happy doing his job and then becoming a wallflower between takes. His director on 1993's Little Buddha, Bernardo Bertolucci, noticed, "He has this incredible shyness or embarrassment."

Even when Keanu isn't escaping into another character, he does take centerstage - specifically with his Los Angeles-based band Dogstar. It's a side project he really enjoys, though he admits that the singing-before-the-audience bit can sometimes be painful for him. "I'm not very good with the microphone," Keanu's said "I don't quite get it there. When you're shy, that shyness can come between you and the moment."

But that's not to say that Keanu is scared of his fans. He even detailed an enjoyable encounter in an interview conducted after Speed. "Once, after the film had opened, I was playing hockey," he recalled. "My defense man came up to me and said, 'Okay. A guy is coming in on a breakaway. What do you do? What do you do?' Usually people come up to me and say, 'Weren't you the guy from Speed? And then we talk about the film."

Such experiences can be pleasant, even for someone who borders on bashful. It could also just be a matter of politeness. According to his other Speed co-star, Dennis Hopper, "Keanu is always very charming but I think he would be happier if he could get away from people."

It may be a bit too late for that. Keanu seems destined to a career that will continue to blind him with the spotlight - even if he's sometimes oblivious to it. "People talk to me about my career," he's said, "and sometimes I ask, 'What career?' I guess I can be very uncomfortable with a lot of attention."

Such attention is something Keanu wishes he could avoid, even though he plans to act indefinitely. "I don't want to be superfamous. That would be awful," Keanu's confessed. "Basically I'm a person who doesn't want too much."


Feeling Minnesota , Little Buddha , Dogstar , Speed , Chain Reaction

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