Elusive, reclusive megastar Keanu Reeves is one of Hollywood's hottest leading men - and also one of it's most mysterious. A look at his women, his world and the sensitive soul beneath the sexy exterior.
The Real Keanu
by Jennifer Tung
Never mind the private jets, the $10 million mansions and oversized entourages that typically accompany stardom. In spite of having starred in the movie with the second-highest-grossing opening in history (The Matrix Reloaded raked in $91 million its first weekend), Keanu Reeves, 38, is a man who shuns Hollywood's more-for-me mentality.
He has spent most of his adult life moving from hotel to hotel ("It's just me and my trusty suitcase against the world," he has said) and prefers playing hockey to walking any red carpet. More recently, he surprised 12 stuntmen on Reloaded with Harley-Davidson motorcycles - but that gesture paled in comparison to his other on-set act of largesse: signing away his valuable profit-sharing "points", worth tens of millions of dollars, to the sequel's special-effects and costume design teams. "[Money] is the last thing I think about," Reeves has said. "I could live on what I've already made for the next few centuries." His Reloaded costar Jada Pinkett Smith tells Us simply, "His generosity is just overwhelming."
Despite his sweeping gestures toward others, this Hollywood A-lister prefers to remain on his own island. In his 20 year career, the sexy, single actor has cultivated few flashy friendships and has made career choices as quirky as they are confounding. (He turned down a lead role in 1995's Heat to play Hamlet in a 789 seat theater in Manitoba). "He's been famous for almost half his life, and he'd rather be anonymous," Jon Favreau, who costarred with Reeves in 2000's The Replacements, tells Us, "In person, he tends to be gregarious and kind of funny. But he doesn't enjoy being famous."
Even his Reloaded costars, who spent a year with him on location in Sydney, Australia, find the actor inscrutable. "There is something mysterious, really like Neo, about him," says Monica Bellucci, who plays a seductress with her sights set on Reeve's character. "You want to understand him, but he doesn't let anyone approach him. He's very guarded." Pinkett Smith concurs. "There were days I'd come on the set and think, "Today's a day Keanu might want a kiss," she says with a laugh. "But that would be a day you would [just] wave. He's a complicated man."
No doubt. Eschewing the Hollywood dating scene, Reeves, whom friends have called "an estrogen magnet", denies any current romantic relationship. He has been seen around Los Angeles with Amanda De Cadenet, 31, the ex-wife of Duran Duran's John Taylor, and a source claims that his latest companion was an acquaintance of ex-girlfriend Jennifer Syme. (Syme died in a 2001 car accident) Still, he recently insisted, "No, I do not have a girlfriend right now, no."
In fact, the only serious woman in his life right now seems to be his sister Kim, 37. The horse breeder was diagnosed 10 years ago with leukemia, which later went into remission. Last summer, when she fell ill again, Reeves halted the filming of the Matrix movies twice to dash from Sydney to L.A. to see her. He also flew her to Capri for a vacation and continues to fly her around the globe to be with him. When asked during the current Cannes International Film Festival in France about his favorite part of the event, Reeves told Us, "Actually, my sister came into town, so it was just nice hanging out with her."
A PAINFUL PAST
Reeves' tight bond with his sister may come from their complicated- and troubled-past. He was born September 2, 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon, where his half-Chinese, half-Hawaiin father was living because he "followed the drugs." Samuel Reeves, now 60, tells Us, "I went to Tangier [Morocco], Beirut, all the hip places where I knew drugs were easy to get." His mom, Patricia, was a British showgirl who had been performing at a local casino. (She's now a costume designer in LA). After Samuel left the family when Keanu was still a baby ("I was in and out, a month here, a month there," Samuel says), Patricia moved Keanu and sister Kim to Australia, and then Toronto. (Reeves claims that he last saw his dad when he was 13.) "He was dragged to art openings because his mom was interested in art," a source close to Reeves's mother tells Us. Says Keanu, "I did a lot of pretending as a child. It was my way of coping with the fact that I didn't really fit in."
People close to Reeves in Toronto describe the teen, who suffered from dyslexia and attended several high schools before dropping out his senior year, as quiet but driven. He was "polite and respectful," says his mother's friend. Adds Mia Sheard, who dated Reeves in 1984, "He would take a lot of chances - its in his nature. We'd be walking down the street, and the next thing you know, he'd be on top of a tree. It was very exciting to a 19-year-old girl."
Reeves found escape as a high school hockey goalie in Toronto. And he discovered the adrenaline rush of acting: According to coach Scott Barber, he'd recite Shakespeare in the locker room to break the tension before games. Shael Risman, who attended drama school in Toronto with Reeves in the mid-80s, recalls "the seriousness with which he took his art, He's very, very smart. He just didn't talk a lot."
After appearing in Toronto stage productions and TV commercials, Reeves landed a small part in 1986's Youngbload starring Rob Lowe. Soon after, he skipped out on training camp with junior A-league hockey team the Windsor Spitfires and drove to Hollywood, where he landed his breakout role as a sensitive slacker in River's Edge.
A string of hits (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Speed) and misses (Johnny Mnemonic, Sweet November) followed, and Reeves's personal life, too, had ups and downs. In October 1993, his close friend and My Private Idaho costar River Phoenix died of a drug overdose. In December 1999, his then-girlfriend, record company executive Syme, gave birth to a stillborn child Torn by grief, they separated soon afterward.
These days, Reeves remains focused on his work, which he performs with characteristic intensity. "If I sat down to take a break, he'd say, 'What are you doing?' recalled Reloaded costar Carrie-Ann Moss, who was recuperating from a broken leg while shooting. "It kind of drove me crazy." Says Reloaded producer Joel Silver, "Keanu had an almost religious existence in Australia. He would train every day that he wasn't shooting and when he was shooting, he'd be quiet and stay to himself."
Still, proving that no man can be an island forever, the actor might be moving to one - Manhattan to be exact, where he is rumored to have bought an apartment. He's also shooting an as-yet-untitled film costarring Jack Nicholson. And once in awhile, Reeves does reveal something illuminating. "Sometimes I sink into moods where I wonder why things happen," the surfer dude turned stoic has said. "There are always tough things that you deal with, and you have to learn to adapt to that and carry on regardless."
Keanu At CannesAs he strolled into the Matrix Reloaded party at the Cannes International Film Festival on May 15, Reeves exuded charm and good cheer. "I'm digging Cannes," the actor told Us. "The cuisine is good, and the weather's been fantastic." To top it off, the buzz on his movie was white-hot, and Reeves celebrated at the Hotel du Cap until eight in the morning. But the next afternoon, he revealed a starkly different side. When a reporter asked him about the late singer Aaliyah's role in the Matrix sequels (she had begun filming when she died in an August 2001 plane crash in the Bahamas), the actor lowered his head and began to cry, then quickly pulled himself together. "No, that's OK," he said, with tears in his eyes. "It was about two weeks into shooting, and she'd filmed one scene."
Keanu's After-Hours Lifeby Shirley Halperin
A former high school ice hockey goalie nicknamed The Wall by teammates, Reeves can often be found at Pickwick Center in Burbank, California, where a manager tells Us, "He's pretty good." Rock & roll is the star's other love. Reeves (a bassist) released two albums with his old pop-punk trio, Dogstar; his new band, Becky, features singer Rebecca Lord (of Real World Seattle fame) and Dogstar drummer Rob Mailhouse.
Keanu's Father SpeaksEstranged from his son for 23 years, Samuel Reeves talks to Us.
by Tim Ryan
Samuel Reeves left his family when son Keanu was just a kid. After serving two years in prison for drug possession, Samuel, now 60 and still a self-described addict, lives with his 79 year old mother and a cousin in Waikiki, Hawaii.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW KEANU?
He visited me on and off until he was about 15. I haven't seen Keanu in, like, 24 years. It hurts. He probably does feel like I abandoned him, but it wasn't because I didn't care about him. I was doing my own thing. And then when he got famous, he probably thought I had other motives.
HAVE YOU TRIED TO GET IN TOUCH?
When I was in prison for selling heroin, I wrote him, but he never wrote back. It was part of my 12-step treatment to make amends to the people I've hurt. Then when his band was playing in Honolulu, near where I used to get my methadone, I dropped off a note with my phone number. I didn't get any response.
ARE YOU STILL USING HEROIN?
I never stopped for very long. Drugs for me is all about having fun. I still love heroin. I use it daily. I spend about $30 a day on drugs. I'm an addict.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR SON'S FILMS?
I've seen most of his films. I saw the first Matrix and thought he was good. I'll see the second Matrix when the crowd thing dies down.