He's rich, handsome, loving… and alone
Keanu Reeves may be about to earn another £20 million but he's still homeless and reluctant to tell us when or with whom he'd like to settle down with one day...
by Roald Rynning
You'd call him a man of mystery except that at 36, Keanu Reeves is still more like the boy who hasn't quite grown up.
But beneath the charming evasiveness, he's facing up to two major tragedies. His former girlfriend Jennifer Syme gave birth to their stillborn baby daughter Ava at the end of last year, although he's never publicly talked about it. And his model sister Kim is fighting leukaemia, with plenty of support from her big brother, who recently took her to Italy for a holiday. He says she's 'doing OK'; but that's all he'll reveal.
A less-than-stable early childhood - his English mother Pat has married four times - left Keanu with a strong sense of the importance of family. Ask if he'd like kids of his own and all you get is a brief yes. But press him about responsibilities now that he's heading towards 40 and he opens up.
"As a person, I'm still working on responsibility. But once in a while I like to put it down and be a little irresponsible," he says. "The day I settle down is not here yet but people are living longer, so I have a long time.
"When I'm working, I think only about work. Girls have got close very rarely. It happens for a time, but then we drift apart again because I have to be somewhere else."
Although rumours have been flying; Keanu won't even talk about his most consistent date Amanda de Cadenet, the transplanted Londoner who used to be married to Duran Duran's John Taylor.
For years, reporters tried to get a response from him on his sexual preference - tabloids even once had him 'married' to gay producer David Geffen, although it turned out they'd never met. But the ever-laid-back Keanu just smiled Zen-like and wandered off. "I don't really have a favourite type of woman. I guess it's the ones who don't slam the door in my face. I mean communication is the key because real life is hard, it's not like the movies."
Of course, his legion of fans know he's handsome (plain to see), shy and polite (always reported as such) and has high principles. He turned down £8 million for Speed 2 in order to tour with his band Dogstar and passed on Heat with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro to do his own Hamlet on stage in Canada.
After 15 years of swimming in a sea of Hollywood sharks, he still seems wonderfully naive. Recently he agreed to star as a serial killer in The Watcher for a mere pittance of £425 a day, taking on the role to help the director who played in the same amateur ice hockey team as him. With the savings on his fee, other actors were hired for fat salaries, leaving Keanu reportedly hurt and disillusioned, but saying as usual.
Despite earning a small fortune, he doesn't seem bothered about worldly possessions. An enormous trailer was provided for him during the making of his next film The Replacements, which is about an American footballers' strike. But the star never moved in and instead quietly asked for it to be replaced by a modest version similar to that of his co-stars. "Generally I don't need much space," he explains humbly. "Just give me a room, some water, some fruit in the morning!"
He's seen as an idealist with a lion for acting, reading, travelling, philosophy, playing bass, and horse riding. Most famously, he likes motorbikes and owns two Seventies English Norton bikes. Anything else is anyone's guess. Unlike other young stars, he's never seen out on the town, and trying to pin him down is difficult-to-impossible.
Jon Favreau, one of his co-stars in The Replacements, says, "He just loves acting and the life of the maker. But when it came to going out at night, it was very hard to get him to do anything social because he didn't want to have to deal with that. He didn't want to be out in bars, or on the street, and be mobbed." Of course, by revealing next to nothing, Toronto-raised Keanu has enhanced his potential as one of Hollywood's biggest sex symbols. So, how does the 6ft 1in hunk feel about being a major heartthrob? "I don't really experience it except when journalists ask me about it. The sex symbol business isn't real to me - it's an idea that has no practical reality for me.
"I think it's cool, of course. I'm glad that people find me attractive in films. But I'm fairly vain and am trying to keep it under control."
Keanu is about to return to Australia, where The Matrix was filmed and where he spent part of his childhood, for two sequels to the blockbuster that relaunched his career last year. In the process he'll pick up a minimum of £20 million, but up to now he hasn't found a place he'd like to call home and chooses to live in hotel rooms. "I'd like to have a home with my belongings in it, but it hasn't really worked out yet," he says.
Not so long ago, the idea of the puppy-like star as an action hero seemed bizarre. Before 1994's hit Speed, Keanu wasn't convinced he could even do physical roles. "I used to be a bit clumsy, so for Speed I did gymnastics for six weeks to gain much more control over my body. After a while I felt more in control, and once I'd done a few of my own stunts. I loved it and wanted to be involved in everything.
"In the Matrix sequels, the scripts are fantastic and my character is more developed. There's some incredible action in them that will be physically demanding."
But action films have taken their toll on Keanu. During The Matrix, he aggravated a neck injury from a motorcycle accident - and required surgery. For filming he had to wear a neck brace and the doctors didn't allow him to kick, only punch. During The Replacements he was rushed to hospital when he lost feeling in his fingers, hands and arms.
"It was scary for a while but it was cool," he says softly. "I got sore and tender a lot on that picture. Plenty of bruises and aches for all of us, but at least I never broke anything. And the effort was really worthwhile. The movie is fantastic."
He also packed on almost 2st for the athletic role. "I'd never played American football, so I really wanted everyone watching the film to believe that my character Shane was a quarterback. To go to training camp was a way for me to learn my character."
When not filming, Keanu hits the road with his band. Despite having opened for David Bowie and Jon Bon Jovi, the group has attracted plenty of flak - which doesn't bother its most famous player. "I'm touring with my band because I find it personally fulfilling. I love paying the bass and I love the camaraderie of the band. But I have no intention of giving up acting for music. Acting is my life's work. But you give over so much time and energy to it that you have to replenish yourself. You have to live life to talk about life."
Keanu fileBirth date 2 September 1964
Parents Pat from Hornchurch, Essex, and Sam, a Chinese-Hawaiian. They met in Paris in the Sixties. Lived in Australia, Canada, USA
Early ambition To be a fireman
First break Canadian TV series Hanging In
Worst fault "Being a Virgo means you're a control freak."