The Contradiction that is the Anu and How Nobody Gets Him
To look at a list of [Keanu's] roles is to wonder how the directors of half his movies could have visualized him in the other half, and vice versa. This is the actor who made two of the most harrowing films of all time about teenage angst, "River's Edge" (1986) and "Permanent Record" (1988). And the same actor who played one of the key predecessors of the dumb-and-dumber movement, in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" (1989) and "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" (1991). The same actor who was an average, if troubled, teen in "Parenthood" (1989) and an 18th century rake in "Dangerous Liaisons" (1989) and a male hustler in "My Own Private Idaho" (1991).
– Roger Ebert, "On the Set; Checking Out "Chain Reaction" in Chicago"
a study in contradictions
– Pat O'Connor, "Keanu – the enigma"
In interviews Reeves rambles like he really is the stoned Ted of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Or a rather smart man whose inarticulate pronouncements are a smokescreen to protect his privacy. There are journalists who swear he's an oaf and there are journalists who swear he's a genius of prevarication.
There is the neatly dressed, well-scrubbed, polite Keanu. There is the cranky T-shirt-and-jeans wearing, road-weary biker, and there is the ponderous, soul-searching surfer poet, not to mention the scruffy, unshaven Big Star actor trying to escape his innate prettyboyness.
He's not your classic hot leading man. Dressed in jeans, a blazer, T-shirt and hiking boots, the dark-haired actor is a little on the skinny side to be considered a legitimate hunk. His olive-skinned complexion is too flawless to call him ruggedly handsome. You'd be tempted to call him pretty, but that's a term reserved for teen studs who make regular appearances on TMZ.com or People magazine's Star Tracks page.
"It's that you just can't type this dude.
Keanu's rather extraordinary contradictions go a long way towards summing him up as an actor. He became well-known for playing a Whoa! Dude!-type character in the Bill & Ted movies – but possesses an intense sensitivity that has infused his best film incarnations with an empathetic vulnerability. He hates giving interviews – but once he loosens up has more to say than your average movie star. He is interested in working on a wide range of characters, not just rehashing the same old stuff: take the cocky, talented, fast-talking lawyer Keanu plays in Devil's Advocate – he's light years away from the taciturn and tough cop who stops the bus in the global blockbuster Speed.