by Siobhan Synnot
They first teamed up to defuse a bomb on a bus 12 years ago, now Reeves and Bullock are finally back together..
IT seems like Keanu Reeves has always been with us. Now almost 42, he's been making movies for more than 20 years. Yet the dark-eyed, dark-haired star still looks boyish and bright-eyed.
However, a lot has changed since Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock got together to defuse a bomb on a bus back in 1994.
Speed turned both of them into superstars overnight. Strange as it seems, though, it's taken them 12 years to get back together. Keanu turned down Speed 2, leaving Sandra to sail into rough waters on a speeding boat with Jason Patric.
However, now the Speed stars are reunited for The Lake House and Sandra calls her leading man "Mr Noble".
"And he's so smart, too. One of the many great things about him is he doesn't feel the need to let you know it," she says.
So why did it take so long for the starry pair to team up again? Over the years, the actors have kept in touch, occasionally getting together for dinners and drinks - but Keanu can be a hard man to find.
For years he didn't have a home to call his own. And, according to Sandra, the star of some of Hollywood's most hi-tech pictures is such an old-fashioned guy that he won't even use email.
"My friends have computers, so I can ask them to do something for me if I need to," admits Keanu with a shy laugh.
"Letters are something from you. It's a different kind of intention than writing an email."
Ironically, the characters he and Sandra play in The Lake House also communicate through the letters left in a magic mailbox.
The mailbox allows them to write to each other although they are living in the same house, two years apart.
Keanu says it was the film's curious setup that attracted him.
He said: "I'm not the hero here and she's not the damsel in distress. It's not about two people seeking someone or something to make themselves whole' it's about two people who discover that together they can create something new."
Pictures like this make it easier for fans to forgive, if not forget, some of his more unfortunate screen choices.
"I do look back. I still sometimes wake up and think 'Gosh, I shouldn't have done that'," he admits. "I want to make films like the Matrix series. You can talk about them after, you can relate to them.
"It's not like you're bringing them home with you and feel like you need to take a shower."
Even hardened Hollywood types swoon a little at Keanu Reeves. There's his exotic appearance (his dad is part Chinese, part Hawaiian' his mother is English), the quirky name but above all his unmistakable air of mystery.
For most of his career, he's been confusing critics and his audiences. He's the goofball actor who talks seriously about Shakespeare, and a Hollywood heartthrob who has never been seen romancing a gaggle of girls. Unlike most stars, he avoids the limelight.
For the last 10 years, he has been leading a restless life, moving from hotel to hotel with the bare essentials packed in a suitcase. His wanderlust dates back to childhood when his mother, Patricia, moved the family around many times. It seems Keanu has adopted that same way of life - but recently, he decided to call a halt to his gypsy lifestyle by buying his first proper home. Now he's looking to settle for good.
"I'm trying not to be alone so much. It's a struggle but I want to get married. I want to have kids," confirms the star with a grin.
The 41-year-old recently admitted that he still mourns the loss of his stillborn daughter in 1999 as well as the death of the baby's mother, Jennifer Syme, in a car crash in 2001, a year after the couple split up.
Much of his love life, however, remains shrouded in mystery. There was a supposed relationship with former wild child and The Word presenter, Amanda De Cadenet.
Last year he was linked with his Something's Gotta Give co-star Diane Keaton, 60. Then he and Sandra showed up at the Oscars together, and tongues started wagging again.
But Keanu is well used to wild speculation. Way back, he was said to have had a gay marriage to record boss turned movie mogul, David Geffen. Keanu's Zen-like cool doesn't desert him when he's reminded of that story, and that he never sued or sulked over the untrue allegations. "It comes down to making a judgment about being gay or not," he says, easily.
"I try not to live my life by what other people say. People were gossiping about what the king and queen were doing way back when. It's just human nature - we like talking about other people."
Another story that has dogged Keanu is that he is every bit as loveably stupid as the happy-go-lucky stoner Ted from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. He beat the likes of Kiefer Sutherland to the role - but although it became his first big hit, he was forever linked to the image of a dimwit. Odd - given that he's one of Hollywood's richest stars.
And he said no to the appalling sequel to his breakout hit Speed. Set on a cruise liner, Speed 2 almost sank the careers of Sandra Bullock and Keanu's replacement, Jason Patric.
At school, while Keanu was a promising hockey player, he was not an outstanding student' he switched schools four times before dropping out at 16. Now he devours books, and his co-stars say he has been found spouting Shakespeare as he strolls to work.
"I try not to get stagnant and like to keep my brain alert. I do a lot of reading to make up for the literature I missed at school," says the actor, sincerely.
"My favourites are Dostoevsky and I'm also into Greek mythology."
He's already performed Hamlet on stage in Canada, to mixed reviews. At some point, he says, he would like to perform the lead in Macbeth.
"Could I do Macbeth with the Scottish accent?" he ponders seriously when I ask.
"I would certainly try if we come to Scotland and film it.
"I'm just throwing it out to the universe - does anybody want to do this with me?"
There might be a long queue of Lady Macbeths ready to work with Keanu - yet he could turn his back on screen, stage and Shakespeare tomorrow if he wanted.
Keanu has no reason to work again, thanks to his 15 per cent share of the billion dollar Matrix success.
"Money isn't everything," he argues, then admits that some may find that hard to believe. Certainly his vast wealth has allowed him to take time off when he feels like it to ride his beloved motorbikes, hole up with his books and practise his bass guitar.
"Money doesn't mean anything to me. I've made a lot of money but I want to enjoy life and not stress myself building my bank account. I give lots away and live simply, mostly out of a suitcase in hotels. We all know that good health is much more important."
That remark certainly comes from the heart. Keanu's sister, Kim, 39, with whom he is very close, is fighting leukaemia, and her older brother has been supporting her battle for the last few years.
Although he doesn't have to work, there's another Keanu film due out this autumn. A Scanner Darkly, with Winona Ryder, is like a graphic novel come to life, using a technology called rotoscoping to make Keanu and his co-stars appear half-human, half-cartoon. The quirky picture is a return to the star's interest in off-the-wall science fiction pictures, like The Matrix. But don't expect Keanu to return to the action-packed stunts he performed as Neo. That film's kung-fu scenes wrecked his knees for good he says - but his co-stars suffered even more.
"Carrie-Anne Moss hurt her leg, and Hugo Weaving had to have a hole drilled into his hip to drain some fluid," he says. "I was taking ice baths and massages and trying not to cry at night."
Still all that pain brought him a new generation of fans and the Matrix trilogy has made him a recognised face all over the world. And sometimes even Hollywood's most reclusive star gets a kick out of being star spotted.
"I was walking down the Champs Elysees, and I heard, 'Neo! Neeeooo!'" recalls Keanu with a smile.
"There was a little boy with his mother and they had just walked past me. I had a big scarf up around my face but I turned around and said 'Hi'.
"He was just staring up at me. That was cool."
The Lake House is released on Friday.
'Money doesn't mean anything to me. We all know that good health is much more important'