by Holly Hutchinson
Keanu Reeves is the ideal muse. He is a man both warm and distant in his approach to other people. His reputation for talking about his personal life, however, is a very different story.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1964 to Samuel Reeves, a Hawaiian-Chinese geologist, and Patricia Reeves, an English costume designer, Keanu’s parents separated when he was two years old, his mother subsequently remarrying three times, leading Keanu and his sister Kim and half sister Karina to live briefly in Australia, Hawaii and New York before finally settling in Toronto. After his professional stage debut In Wolfboy in 1984, Keanu began his film career in the Canadian-produced film One Step Away in 1986. His role in River’s Edge in 1986 propelled him further into stardom, leading him into roles in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Parenthood.
Bernardo Bertolucci, director of the film Little Buddha, once said Keanu Reeves possessed "an impossible innocence". Perhaps it’s this trait that has drawn attention to him through a film career that spans almost two decades. It always provokes a headspin to think that in the same year Reeves played the wide eyed, hyperactive teenager Ted Logan in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, he also starred alongside River Phoenix as a hardened, stone-cold serious male prostitute, whose pensive stare hinted at something of the man Keanu was to become. Which character was more indicative of Keanu himself? Reeves has remained very much a private man, disclosing little to his curious public.
Perhaps his secrecy is well warranted. After all Keanu’s life has not read like a fairy tale. The latest contact he had with his father was as a thirteen year-old, and 1994 Reeves Senior was sentenced to a ten-year prison sentence for cocaine and heroin possession. In 2000 his pregnant girlfriend, Jennifer Syme, discovered that the child that she and Keanu were expecting and had already named had died in the womb. One year later Jennifer died when her car crashed into three parked cars in Hollywood. Keanu refused to speak to the media, as he and Jennifer had done after the death of their baby daughter.
Keanu’s new movie Something’s Gotta Give opened last month nationwide. Starring alongside Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, he is possibly at the peak of his career, following the success of the Matrix trilogy. The distance he retains from the media, however, ensures that he remains an enigma. What really lies beyond the hype and fame is anyone’s guess.