Moviefone (US), September 17, 2001
Star of the Week
We challenge you to find an actor working today who's more casually disparaged than Keanu Reeves. Critics skewer his many flops and credit the success of his blockbusters not to his talent, but to the films' ability to take advantage of the star's limitations. It is true that Reeves' acting often leaves something to be desired and his film choices can be somewhat bewildering. Still, even though we don't expect to see him claiming any Academy statuettes anytime soon, all the animosity leveled at Keanu does seem a little unjustified. In the interest of justice, here are half a dozen reasons you ought to reconsider your disdain for Keanu Reeves.
He doesn't preach: While Keanu did immerse himself in Buddhism for 1993's Little Buddha, he didn't take the typical Hollywood route and adopt a watered down version of the religion as his own. Nor, thankfully, did he take up Satanism after filming The Devil's Advocate (though some critics might suspect that a deal with the Dark One is all that's kept Keanu's career afloat). Other actors might have more Oscars, but Keanu's presence is far more tolerable at awards ceremonies.
He's his own man: By turning down Speed 2 and the millions that came with it, he pretty much negated the argument that he's only in it for the bucks (why the generally incorruptible Jason Patric took the part is anybody's guess, including, probably, Mr. Patric's). By insisting on the development of Sweet November -- a wispy nothing of a film, at least as far as box-office was concerned -- he showed a commitment to projects that meant something to him, even if they didn't mean all that much to anybody else. Just because his individualism is patently oddball doesn't make it any less... individualistic.
He doesn't give a damn what you think: While he has been linked to several very attractive women, Reeves staunchly refuses to confirm his sexuality. Rather, he seems to delight in his ambiguity. This is a far cry from Tom Cruise, who threatened to perform all the wrong moves on anyone who claimed he was gay.
He's no smarter than the next guy, and he knows it: The biggest knock on Reeves is that he's, well, stupid (actually, the word most often used is "vapid," but everyone knows vapid is just a high-brow stand-in for "stupid"). Reeves himself seems unconcerned with this impression. He once responded to comments about his intelligence by saying, "I'm sorry my existence is not very noble or sublime." The funny thing is, apologizing for your existence being neither noble nor sublime is one of the smartest things you can do. The fact that most actors pretend like they're both makes Reeves' humility seem downright brilliant. This is a man who won't disgrace himself by yammering half-baked opinions about the economy on "Politically Incorrect".
He admits he's a terrible bassist: Unlike all those singers-turned-painters out there, Reeves won't even say he's proficient at his secondary artistic talent. Reeves has described himself as "the worst bass player in the world," a statement buttressed by nonexistent sales of his band Dogstar's albums. But hey, who's gonna begrudge a red-blooded Canadian the right to play bass in a rock and roll band?
He's a very attractive man: Seriously. He is. Not only that, but the Beirut-born actor's quite exotic; in fact, it might be the exoticism that makes him so attractive.
When it comes down to it, Keanu Reeves lacks many of the qualities we hate most in our movie stars, which must explain why we can't seem to get enough of him. He could fit his ego inside a kumquat, he doesn't make movies just to make money; he's not trying to show anyone the path to spiritual glory and he doesn't think he knows it all just because he qualified for a SAG card. He might just as well be that goofy friend you never quite get but hang out with anyway because you're so curious to see what weird stunt he's going to pull next. Or maybe you just like him because he's really good looking.