The Globe (US), October 7, 1997


Speed star guzzles whiskey with homeless hobo in L.A. gutter

by Pete Trujillo

Bedraggled. Filthy. Shameless. A downright disgusting bum. That's what mega-millionaire movie hunk Keanu Reeves looked like when we spotted him boozing it up with a homeless hobo in a filthy Los Angeles alley. Even Globe's lensman was shocked as he snapped the famous actor squatting beside 52-year-old Michael Emmanuelle, sharing shots of bourbon, reading pornography, and even napping in the gutter.

And, ironically, all this was going on just steps away from the notorious Viper Room nightclub, where Keanu's best friend River Phoenix died from a drug overdose three years ago!

"It was a Sunday morning and I was minding my own business," says Emmanuelle. "Then this guy say down next to me, shook my hand and offered a cigarette. He asked me my name and told me that his was Keanu.

"I had no idea who he was. But I told him he looked kinda familiar.

"He paused, then half-whispered, 'I'm an actor.' Eventually, it dawned on me where I'd seen him before. I told him, 'You're up on a billboard for that Al Pacino movie The Devil's Advocate on Sunset Blvd!

"But he just changed the subject and asked what I was drinking. I told him my drink of choice was Jim Beam bourbon. Then he disappeared."

Globe's photographer saw Keanu jog to a nearby liquor store, where he picked up a pint of Jim Beam for his new derelict companion - and a pint of Jack Daniel's for himself.

"He came back, gave me a bottle and made a toast," Emmanuelle reveals. "He told me he envied me because I had no pressure or deadlines.

"When I told him he was nuts, he laughed and we drank some more." Amazingly, although Keanu and Emmanuelle - a five-year veteran of the homeless life on L.A.'s mean streets - were surrounded by squalor, their conversation covered topics ranging from sleazy pornography to Shakespeare! "Keanu saw some of my magazines and flipped through them," says the vagrant. "We agreed that censorship was far worse than pornography.

"Then we discussed acting, Marilyn Monroe, and toasted Princess Di. We both thought that her death was tragic."

The 33-year-old actor, who has Chinese, Hawaiian and English blood, claims there was a method to his public madness.

When asked by a reporter what he was doing on skid row, Keanu said he was researching a role for a new movie about a homeless man who wins the lottery. But to people who know him well, Keanu the street bum is completely in character. Even with a $10 million paycheck from The Devil's Advocate in the bank, and plenty more from his role in Speed, he still doesn't have a home to call his own. Instead, he lives like a gypsy, crashing in convenient hotel rooms and friends' guest bedrooms.

The handsome heartthrob has been rolling in dough since 1989, when he starred in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. But sources say he really doesn't know how much money he has, and makes do with an allowance doled out by an accountant.

"His one extravagance is buying music CD's," a pal confides. "He never sees or spends the rest of his cash."

Keanu didn't even have to dress down for his back-street binge. "He only owns four pairs of pants, three T-shirts, two suits, and two pairs of shoes," reveals a close friend.

"Keanu thinks, deep down, he is a bad actor and that Hollywood will eventually find out and he'll end up broke again."

Although Keanu manages to behave while he's working on a film, and rehearses regularly with his band Dogstar, a typical day for the eccentric actor seems closer to the routine of a derelict like Emmanuelle than fellow celebrities. "He wakes up at about 3:00 p.m.," says an insider. "He smokes cigarettes non-stop, and his diet is horrible. He eats caramel corn with milk for breakfast, and fast food like corn dogs from gas station markets. "Sometimes, he'll go for long periods without eating food because he just forgets to eat."

It's no secret in Tinseltown that Keanu prefers the company of people who are unaware of his fame. "That's why he befriends homeless people," a pal explains.

One exception is married British actress Amanda de Cadenet, with whom he has a platonic relationship. But friends say that Keanu doesn't have a girlfriend - and isn't looking for one.

He isn't very close to his family, either.

Sources say he occasionally stays with his sister Kim and maintains a limited relationship with Patricia, his British "hippie" mother, who used to design costumes for rocker Alice Cooper.

He's been estranged for years from his dad Sam, who spent time in jail on drug charges.

But Keanu's new street pal Michael Emmanuelle boasts that his bourbon-fueled binge with the star made him feel very special.

"This guy makes millions, but you would never guess it," say Emmanuelle. "He's a humble person who didn't look down on me. That's very rare."


Devil's Advocate, The , Speed , Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure , Dogstar

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