Guardian (UK), June 2, 2003
Keanu claims he enjoys living out of a suitcase. So can a few fireplaces and ornamental fish tie him down?
One face has gazed at us, enigmatically and ubiquitously, over the past three weeks. It glides by on the sides of buses, stares down from hoardings, looks up - impassively but beautifully - from glossy magazine covers. Almond shades, orientally high cheekbones, Anglo Saxon pallor: Keanu, Neo, the "One", blend of all races, cool wind over mountains (does the Hawaiian actually mean that?).
One thing we thought we knew about Mr Reeves: he's a nomad. He's been described as "the world's richest homeless person". A wandering star, he lives out of a suitcase. His preferred resting place is poolside at the Chateau Marmont (where Belushi drugged himself to death), playing computer chess, chain-smoking, soothed by the ceaseless hum of traffic on nearby Sunset Boulevard. "There's something about me," he told an interviewer, "that enjoys the fact that I can move around freely and not have any material things which tie me down to any one point."
It's part of the mystique. For Keanu to own a house (fix the plumbing, put the cat out) would be like Leonardo DiCaprio pumping his own gas, Tom Cruise grouting floor tiles, or Winona queuing up like the rest of us to pay for her purchases.
No more Gypsy in his soul. Last week the real estate section of the Los Angeles Times announced to the world that "Keanu Reeves, star of the futuristic thriller The Matrix Reloaded, has purchased a Hollywood Hills home for close to $5 million."
It is, we learned, a "gated estate built in the late 80s as an art collector's residence". It has dramatic city views, high ceilings and massive wall space for displaying art. There are three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms in slightly more than 5,000 sq ft. The one-storey "contemporary" also has a koi pond, a 50ft infinity pool, a centre-courtyard and three fireplaces.
Fans like me cut through the realtors' fluff to the important stuff. The paper didn't give the address. But it recorded that "Richard Ehrlich and Kurt Rappaport, both with Westside Estate Agency in Beverly Hills," had the listing.
Like all high-profile agencies, Westside ("Quality - Service - Discretion") has a website (www.w-e-agency.com) with video tour facilities. Properties linger a few hours on the lists, until the huge amounts of money dawdle across bank accounts.
I quickly scanned the Westside inventory. The only possible property, at that price and with those named agents (on 6%, gross), was clearly identifiable. It had gone off the site the next day - but not before I had a chance to video-saunter by the koi pond, inspect the master bedroom, and even peek at the bathroom pedestal which, wonderful thought, will receive those starry buttocks. Peeping John.
Some might pay for my information. Websites such as www.contactanycelebrity.com charge you $30 for access to their database. I wouldn't mind betting they don't have Keanu's home address. Yet.
I drove out there last night, spurning the hawkers at the border of Beverly Hills with their tawdry "Star Maps". But Keanu's new home is, I have to report, no big deal. At least, not to the naked, unlensed, eye.
Peering through the gate, it didn't look more impressive than what a podiatrist might aspire to. Hell, if I'd got in before the last housing boom, I could have owned something like that myself - not in Beverly Hills, but certainly out in Bill and Ted's hometown, San Dimas.
Westside's current listings start with mansions going for $18m. The five-mill-and-under stuff is strictly low range. Keanu allegedly got $30m for the Matrix sequels. Why would someone with that kind of money buy something so, well, "blah"?
It worried me. Looking at the unimpressive facade, a terrible thought struck me. "Agent Rappaport"? "Agent Ehrlich"? "Real" Estate? Is it? Am I, horrible thought, caught in a ... Quick, give me the red pill.