BOP (US), June 1996

Keanu Learns the Surprising Truth

Keanu's childhood wasn't exactly what you'd call conventional. His parents split up when he was a baby. He's seen his father only rarely since he was a toddler. He, his mom and two younger sisters moved five times when he was growing up. And apparently his mom kept company with a colorful crowd of folks - many of them full-fledged hippie types - who always seemed to be hanging out at her house.

"I had an interesting childhood", Keanu, now 31, has said. "It was weird. A real free existence. I call it, 'Attention to more, but with less.'"

It's that "more but less" childhood that helped Keanu become the highly adaptable person he is today. And that ability to roll with the punches is something he's relied on throughout his career. After all, acting is not the most secure, predictable profession. Sometimes you work, sometimes you don't. But Keanu's discovered, even when you know you're going to be a set for, say, three months, things you don't expect are bound to pop you.

The most surprising thing to come up during Keanu's latest movie, Feeling Minnesota, came courtesy of Mother Nature. According to those on the set, the weather there (yes, it was actually shot in Minnesota) was seriously unpredictable - comfortable one minute, freezing cold the next. But that's pretty light stuff compared to the unexpected challenges Keanu's faced in previous roles.

In 1991's Point Break, for instance, Keanu didn't realize just how difficult it would be to learn how to surf until he got out there and braved the oceans of Kauai, Hawaii. "It was reallllly hard," he said shortly after the movie came out. "If you were a little grunt and your dad put you in the water every day, you'd start to get it. But coming in at 25, it's a different thing."

Then there was 1994's Speed. A lot has been written about how Keanu's role in the film was physically challenging and how he had to work out beforehand. The actor even ended up doing some of his own stunts. But the film presented another unforeseen challenge as well. River Phoenix, Keanu's friend and co-star from 1991 movie My Own Private Idaho, died of a drug overdose while Speed was in production.

Though Keanu was devastated upon hearing the news, he had to make himself emotionally strong enough to get through each day's work. That meant focusing on his work as never before. As Dennis Hopper, who co-starred in the movie with Keanu, has said, "It happened one day, and the next day we were working and he never brought it up."


Feeling Minnesota , Point Break , Speed , My Own Private Idaho

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