Out of Control!
It's not just his motorbike accidents - now Keanu Reeves is putting his career at risk, too. So why does he have such a death wish?
by Garth Pearce
Keanu Reeves seemed to have it all. Wealth, fame, striking good looks - and a career which was soaring. So just what on earth is he up to?
He puts his life at risk on motor bikes, despite crashes and driving bans. He's pulled out of the sequel to his biggest hit movie Speed. And now he's involved with former wild child Amanda de Cadenet.
Hollywood is asking if Keanu has a secret death wish: for his career, for his image and for himself.
It comes at a point when his appearances in hit films like Bram Stoker's Dracula which premieres on ITV on Saturday, are becoming a distant memory. This year's releases such as Johnny Mnemonic and Feeling Minnesota have flopped.
It's all unwelcome attention for Keanu, 32, whose shyness doesn't sit easily with Hollywood tradition. A slight flush colours his face as he explains "I've tried to stay clear of gossip columns. I've avoided being photographed with girlfriends and kept my private life to myself. But that's not enough for many people."
"Why should I explain myself because I live a dull life? The dangers have been a couple of motorbike crashes and a fall from a tree when I was a kid."
He makes light of the crash in which he broke his right ankle. It happened just weeks after he'd got back his licence following a two year ban.
"I wasn't at fault with that one but I do drive too fast" he admits. "I've received too many tickets for speeding. But I love bikes, it's a hobby and I don't INTEND to get killed in the process."
That said he pulled out of Speed 2 at the very point it looked set to go into overdrive.
His co-star Sandra Bullock has become one of America's top female stars in the two year's since the action hit. But this time Keanu's role has gone to lesser known actor Jason Partic. The reason Keanu gives for turning down the movie is that he wants to concentrate on his folk-rock band, Dogstar.
"It's hard to say if I enjoy music more than acting, because I'm not so successful at it. But to play a bass guitar on stage and create music is enormously satisfying."
Keanu, in black T-shirt and jeans, cuts a simple figure. "I've a problem with this showbiz thing. I don't like being the centre of too much attention. Unusual for an actor? Yes, I'm more comfortable in the role I'm playing rather than anything on the outside. I like to think I'm a free spirit."
It runs in the family. His mother, Patricia, left her Essex home in the Sixties and met his father, Sam, a Chinese-Hawaiian, while travelling around the world.
Keanu was born in Beirut, raised in Australia and New York, and then lived with his mother and sister Kim, now 30, in Toronto, from the age of 7. His father was jailed in June 1994 for 10 years for cocaine possession. The two had not met in years.
Says Keanu, "I don't want to talk about him. I don't want to add to all the rubbish that's been written about me."
One untrue allegation which it seems won't go away is that Keanu doesn't like women.
There were photos leaked from a gay role in a 1985 Toronto theatre play, Wolfboy, showing him kissing a man. And a US magazine last year claimed that once asked if he was gay, Keanu had replied "No, but you never know".
Now he's been seen out with 23 year old Amanda de Cadenet - ex presenter of C4's late night show, the Word - and it's the first sighting of Keanu in a romantic situation.
His response "I've not been seen with a woman on my arm because I don't always go to the right parties. In fact I don't go out much period.
"Women have got close to me in the past. For a time. How have I kept it quiet? Im telling you, I don't lead a wild rock'n'roll life. Things I do for fun would bore most people.
"I love looking at the ocean or hiking in the mountains. I work on my Shakespeare. Vices? I like red wine but I never took refuge in it. I've experimented with drugs and drink but it's not in my nature to get hooked."
"To anyone who's genuinely concerned about how things are going for me, I'd say this:
"Don't worry. I know what I'm doing."
A taste for fast bikes landed Keanu on crutches, a passion for fast women led him to Amanda de Cadenet and a love of fast music saw him on stage with his band Dogstar instead of on the set of the sequel to "Speed", yet amazingly Keanu says "I lead a dull life."