Movie star passion
Birmingham girl Rachael Jones headed to Australia for adventure, but ended up having a steamy holiday romance with Hollywood's biggest heart-throb.
Keanu's Brummie love(also published on December 20, 2001 as a longer version under the title 'Keanu Reeves Kissed Me and I Thought 'This Can't Be Real'')
The extraordinary story of the ordinary English girl who seduced a star, and surprise, surprise, it all ended in tears
by Becky Morris and Christine Challand
Tucked in the corner of a smart Sydney restaurant sit an attractive but ordinary-looking couple.
He leans forward and touches her cheek, and her face lights up. They look like a couple of surfers taking a break from Bondi Beach.
But he is Keanu Reeves, star of blockbuster films such as The Matrix and Speed, one of the most bankable and desirable leading men in Tinseltown.
She is Rachael Jones, 11 years his junior and a normal girl from Birmingham on a break in Oz.
Their extraordinary romance hit the headlines late last year and now Rachael has spoken for the first time of her romance with Hollywood's most eligible bachelor.
She says: "So many friends have asked me what it was like to wake up with Keanu Reeves. I have to admit that it was bizarre. But, yes, it was wonderful."
Their relationship lasted a few weeks in Australia, where Rachael had gone to work for a local radio station, and Keanu was filming the sequel to The Matrix.
Now back home in the Midlands, Rachael, 26, is asking herself whether it was a holiday romance - or if she was being used by Keanu to provoke the jealousy of his on-off celebrity girlfriend Amanda de Cadenet.
After being romanced by the movie hunk, she is now heavily in debt and hoping to get back her old job at a radio station in Hull.
It's a far cry from careering around Sydney on the back of the star's Harley Davidson.
She and Keanu have spoken a couple of times on the telephone since her return to the UK.
"The relationship we had sounds blissful," Rachael says. "But it could never have been more than a fling. Everyday people like me just don't live that sort of life permanently.
"If he had been a normal person, we would have stood a chance. There was something really special between us. But he lives in another world.
"Being back here with my family for Christmas made me realise I don't envy him his life.
"Yes, he makes a lot of money and he's passionate about films. But I learned the hard way that when you are that famous, everyone wants a piece of you.
"All of a sudden I was plagued by phoney friends who previously hadn't given a damn about me. It was pretty sickening."
However, Rachael will always treasure her memories.
"Keanu was the kind of man you hope to meet but never do - he just happened to be a Hollywood star," she adds.
She first bumped into the actor in a bar in Sydney's swanky Harbourside area.
Fresh from the shower and with her hair still wet, Rachael was laughing with a girlfriend when Keanu strolled in.
"He just walked up to me and said 'Hi, I'm Keanu'. And I blurted out 'Hi, I'm Rachael, I'm going to the loo'," she remembers.
"I knew who he was and there was a lot of chemistry between us, but I didn't think this was my big chance to make a play for him - it seemed too far-fetched that anything might happen."
In America, home for Keanu is a £2,000-a-week suite in Los Angeles' exclusive Chateau Marmont hotel.
But the remarkable difference in lifestyles did not stop him choosing to go home with the young English girl that night.
"It was getting quite crowded at about 3am, so when he asked me if I'd like to go somewhere else, I asked him if he wanted to come back to my flat for a beer," she says.
"It was then that he kissed me and I can remember thinking 'My God, this can't be happening'.
"It was very tender and sweet. It was late, but instead of going back to his hotel, Keanu asked if he could stay the night and we both just fell into my bed.
"It was only really when I woke up the next day that realised it had really happened.
"To be honest, I was surprised he was still there. It was very natural between us.
"I have to admit we made love for the first time that morning. Then he look me out for lunch. We made each other laugh.
"I think he liked the fact that I wasn't in awe of him. I told him I thought Speed, the only film of his I'd seen, was rubbish."
From then on the pair were virtually inseparable.
"A couple of my friends told me I was making a fool of myself, but now I realise they were probably jealous," she adds.
And despite having to survive on her meagre savings, Rachael always paid her way when she was out with her millionaire lover.
"Keanu never offered to buy me anything and I certainly never asked. I didn't want to be seen as a desperate gold-digger," she says.
"We talked a lot about books and films but I never asked him about his private life. I had no idea that Amanda de Cadenet was supposedly still on the scene."
As the days and weeks passed the reality of her boyfriend's fame caught Rachael with a jolt.
"I was mortified to find myself quoted in the Australian papers calling Amanda names and saying Keanu would have to 'make do' with her when I'd gone," she says.
"I had to ring my mum and tell her not to get upset."
But Keanu, 37, may have had ulterior motives.
"Now I wonder if he was trying to make Amanda jealous," Rachael ponders.
"It's not a nice thought at all. I couldn't walk my dog without being photographed."
In the end, it was neither the public exposure nor a lovers' tiff that ended the affair. Rachael's visa simply ran out and she was forced to return home.
"Keanu and I parted on good terms. He said he'd stay in touch and told me he thought we'd had a great time together," she recalls.
Now, despite everything, she insists she is glad to be back.
"My biggest regret is not realising the implications of my relationship with Keanu and not being prepared to cope.
"I also wanted to set the record straight about Amanda de Cadenet. Who knows what she thinks of me? I just hope I never end up meeting her."