Keanu's Unknown Sis in Plea to See Him
by Louise Hancock and Dave Gardner
Matrix star's rift with 'strange' family exposed
SHE shares the same surname, almond-shaped eyes and laid-back manner as one of the world's biggest stars.Yet even Emma Rose Reeves' closest friends and colleagues will be amazed to know she is the secret sister of Matrix star Keanu Reeves.
Their lifestyles could hardly be more different. While multi-millionaire Keanu will in the next few weeks jet around the world promoting his new film The Matrix: Reloaded, which is set to break all box office records when it opens in Britain next week, Emma Rose will carry on as usual working eight-hour shifts as a £12,000-a-year hospital lab technician.
And while he enjoys the best hotels she will return each night to the modest two-bedroom apartment she shares with a friend in a small Californian town. "I would love to have a relationship with Keanu," says Emma Rose, 23. "I don't want anything from him - not money, not fame by association - just to get to know my big brother. I see all his films and read all the articles about him, but it's not the same as being part of his life."
Emma Rose is 38-year-old Keanu's half-sister from his father Samuel's marriage to his second wife Marita. But she has only met him twice despite growing up only about 10 hours' drive from LA where he is based.
She says: "I always felt there was a part of my life that was missing because I didn't know Keanu and his sister Kim. I was a little hurt that he didn't get in touch with me when we were younger but, to be honest, I can understand why he didn't.
"We have a strange family with a lot of difficult dynamics. And after he became well-known, I was afraid he would think I only wanted to meet him because of who he was."
Emma Rose was 12 when she met her famous brother for the first time. But she'd seen him weeks earlier on the big screen in his hit film Speed. She says: "I could barely get over his resemblance to our father - especially around the eyes and the nose. It was just incredible.
"I left the cinema on a high. I was just so proud that my secret half-brother was a Hollywood superstar. Part of me was desperate to tell the whole world. But I knew I had to keep quiet as I didn't want to jeopardise any future relationship.
"The first time I actually met him was at a family wedding a few weeks later. But although he was very laid-back, I was quite young and shy - I don't think we exchanged more than a couple of words all day."
As Keanu became more famous, Emma Rose decided it would be too awkward to get in touch again. "I told my closest friends that I was related to him, but nobody else," she says.
"That was partly because I didn't think other people would believe me - but also because I didn't want to jeopardise my chances of one day having a friendship with him. And I liked it being my little secret. I'd see people reading about him and think to myself, 'If only they knew'.
After high school, Emma Rose went to college with the idea of becoming a fashion buyer. But her big brother's example inspired her to try to break into acting and she began going to auditions for commercials and small movie roles - but with no success. Then 18 months ago, Keanu's band Dogstar played in a town called Petaluma in northern California, close to Emma Rose's home. "I thought it would be cool to see him. Plus, I was thinking about taking acting more seriously," she says. "I didn't expect him to invite me to stay or get me jobs, but I thought it would be useful to get his advice. I was nervous and I took a friend and my stepdad with me for support.
While she watched the band perform, her stepdad secretly went to talk to a security guard about getting Emma Rose backstage. "At first the guard didn't believe I was Keanu's sister so my stepdad called me over so he could see the resemblance," says Emma Rose. "I asked him to tell Keanu that Emma Rose was here and would like to see him. He came rushing back with backstage passes.
"Walking into the room to meet Keanu was really strange. I had wanted to meet him again for so long that when I actually did it didn't feel quite real. I didn't know whether to shake his hand or give him a big hug. In the end I went with instinct, and pulled him into a hug. It felt so good to finally be close to my big brother."
At first, conversation was strained - but a simple T-shirt logo helped break the ice. "I happened to be wearing a Harley T-shirt. Keanu loves motorbikes. I used to work in a motorbike shop so at least we had a mutual interest to start the ball rolling. After that, it was much easier. He is just like he comes across in his films -- very laid-back and friendly. "I filled him in on what everyone in the family was doing, especially our grandmother who still lives in Hawaii. He is concerned about her, but I don't think he wants to get attached. That is his decision and I totally respect it.
"There's one cousin who he does keep in touch with so he did have an idea of what was going on with people, but it was good to tell him a bit more. He said he was going to Australia soon to film the Matrix sequels. He seemed to be looking forward to it but said it was going to be a gruelling time." With the pleasantries over and done with, there were things Emma Rose was determined to say.
Taking a deep breath, she told him how sorry she was to hear about his stillborn daughter Ava and the tragic death of his ex-girlfriend Jennifer Syme in a car accident in 2001.
"He is obviously still so cut-up about it," says Emma Rose quietly. "Because of who he is, he has had to develop a thick skin, but I don't think he's ever gotten over those deaths. But I needed to say it. It had been so hard to read about those tragedies and not be able to say how sorry I was because I didn't know how to reach him. I think he was pleased that I cared."
But after 45 minutes of catching up, Keanu had to talk to other guests. Emma Rose hasn't heard from him since. "He said we should get in touch when he came back from Australia, but he didn't give me his number. I got a bit flustered and forgot to ask. I don't feel bitter towards him and the fact that he's not made any effort to contact me. I know he's busy - I'm happy to wait for him to get in touch. Anyway I know all I need to do is pick up a magazine or newspaper to get an update on what he's up to.
"Some of my friends think I'm mad not to have asked him for money. But I never wanted anything from him. I feel good about making the first contact. I've done my bit to let him know I still care - now it's Keanu's turn."
KEANU'S father has also appealed to his son to get in touch ...before it's too late. Samuel Reeves, 61 - who has just served two years for drug dealing - hasn't seen his son for 25 years.
Keanu stayed with British-born mum Patricia after her marriage to Samuel broke up when he was four. Speaking from his home in Hawaii, Samuel last night claimed to have diabetes and Grave's disease, an immune disorder which can cause heart failure. And he said: "I know I've done wrong, but I just wish Keanu would forgive me as I could die any day."