Keanu Reeves is on the comeback trail with a host of new movies up his sleeve including the awesome action flick ‘John Wick’ and ‘The Neon Demon’, a new horror film from ‘Drive’ director Nicolas Winding Refn.
The 50-year-old actor hasn’t aged a day for the last 30 years, leading to internet rumours that he could, in fact, be immortal. To celebrate the eternal life of one our favourite Hollywood stars, we take a look back over the last 50 years of Keanu to celebrate his most excellent, non-bogus, air guitar-worthy moments.
What’s in a name?
According to legend, the name Keanu means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian. It’s a fitting name for the actor who has always been deemed as “cool”.
This early photo of the actor from 1984 proves his innate bodaciousness could transcend dodgy 80s fashion.
He is The One
The mind-bending sci-fi film from the Wachowskis was a huge sleeper hit in 1999 and Reeves’ deadpan delivery and impressively lithe physicality was perfectly suited to the sombre techno mumbo jumbo script and OTT fight sequences.
Amazingly, the ever generous Keanu donated a huge portion of his back end salary for the sequels to staff in the films’ VFX departments. He gave away around $75m, with each team member receiving around $1m each.
He also gave each of the stunt team a Harley Davidson motorcycle too.
Ted “Theodore” Logan
Keanu’s starring role in the unlikely time-travelling slacker comedy ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ would propel the actor into the public consciousness. The script originally envisaged the pair as a couple of losers in heavy metal shirts, but casting Reeves and Alex Winter changed the course of the film forever.
“Once you cast Alex and Keanu, who look like pretty cool guys, that was hard to believe.” explained the screenwriters. Too right! Party on dudes!
The greatest older brother you never had
Ron Howard’s family comedy ‘Parenthood’ cast Keanu in a small but memorable role as Tod, the drag-racing loser boyfriend to Martha Plimpton’s Julie.
His relationship with Julie’s awkward and socially repressed brother Garry, played by a young Joaquin Phoenix, provides one of the film’s most indelible moments, as Tod explains the teenage boy’s fascination with… ahem… “slapping the salami” to his mum, played by Dianne West.
He was the sibling we all wished we’d grown up with.
“I’m a meathead,” he told Details magazine in 1991. “I can’t help it, man. You’ve got smart people and you’ve got dumb people. You just happen to be spending some time with a dumb person.”
C’mon Keanu, we don’t believe that for a second.
We’re not sure which is more unlikely – Keanu as an FBI agent, or his character’s name Johnny Utah. Either way, ‘Point Break’ is one of the best “high concept” action movies of the 90s. An undercover agent infiltrates a adrenaline junkie, surfing armed robbery gang known as the ex-presidents.
We’re dreading the remake (yes, it’s happening), but it can never take away the moment Utah lets the gang, led by Patrick Swayze, away.
His British accent
He can do action, but he can’t do accents. Didn’t stop him trying his hardest for ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’. He claims to have trained very hard to perfect his English accent in order to play Jonathan Harker in Francis Ford Coppola’s lavish adaptation, but there’s no two ways about it - his accent sucked.
Just all of it. From his haircut, to the relationship with Sandra Bullock, to the moment he smashed up the phone, we think ‘Speed’ might be our favorite Keanu Reeves movie ever.
Interestingly, 20th Century Fox were reportedly horrified when they saw Keanu’s buzz cut, threatening to delay the film in order to allow the actor to grow back his trademark floppy locks.
He played Glastonbury
Keanu isn’t just a most excellent thespian, he’s also a mean bass player in the alternative rock band Dogstar. Reeves formed the band with drummer Robert Mailhouse after bonding over a love of ice hockey. They toured extensively in the 90s, with a 1999 slot at Glastonbury festival the highpoint of a short-lived career for the band which released two albums in 1996 and 2000.
In 2010, the Beirut-born star became an internet sensation thanks to some pap shots of him looking forlorn, munching a sandwich on a park bench. The meme “Sad Keanu” was born, trending worldwide on Reddit, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.
Eventually, the owners of the photo issued a takedown notice, much to Keanu’s relief who told BBC News, "Do I wish that I didn’t get my picture taken while I was eating a sandwich on the streets of New York? Yeah.”
Side by Side
You may know Keanu best for his acting roles, but this 2012 documentary, in which the actor is narrator and interviewer, shows a much more natural side to the star.
The documentary looks into how technology has changed the way films are made with the rise of digital film-making. Keanu talks to James Cameron, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese and whole load of A-list film-makers for this thought-provoking doc which is well worth seeking out if you’re a Keanu-completist.
Having immersed himself in the world of martial arts for ‘The Matrix’ trilogy, Keanu has found a new lease of life in the world of punching and kicking. He made his directorial debut in 2013 with ‘Man of Tai Chi’ in which he also starred and the film was warmly received by critics.
Will we see more of Reeves the director in the future? We hope so. In fact, we expect nothing more from the seemingly eternal legend.
Watch a trailer for ‘John Wick’ below.
Image credit: Rex Features/Press Association