If you thought you knew everything there is to know about Keanu Reeves, think again. From his childhood years to his life off camera, the mysteriously charming actor still has a few tricks up his sleeves. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood’s leading man.
A Star Is Born
Although the reclusive star has garnered massive success in America, you may be surprised to know that he’s not actually American. Believe it or not, Keanu was actually born to a British mom and an American dad in Lebanon. Following his parent’s divorce, he and his mom relocated to Ontario, where she got hitched to a prestigious theater and movie director. Although Keanu’s still a Canadian citizen, he has an American green card thanks to his papa.
Apparently, Reeves’ exotic looks can be attributed to his Hawaiian and Chinese heritage on his father’s side. And if you’re wondering what the heck the name “Keanu” means, it’s Hawaiian for “cool breeze over the mountain.” Descended from the Hawaiian name “Keaweaheulu,” “Keanu” is a derivative of the name of an 18th-century Hawaiian chief. Shaka, brah!
Unbelievably though, there was a time when Keanu Reeves considered alternative stage names for his career. When he was a fresh, new actor on the scene back in the day, his agents actually thought that his name was a bit too complicated for the public. He played around with the names “K.C. Reeves,” “Norman Kreeves,” “Chuck Spadina,” and “Page Templeton III” before he settled with Keanu Reeves.
As if his 30-year Hollywood career wasn’t impressive enough, Reeves also has several other little-known talents. The renaissance man can add “Shakespearean actor” to his resume. As a teenager, one of the actor’s first theatrical opportunities was a role in the Shakespeare play The Tempest. Not only that, but Reeves also played the scandalous character Don John in the 1993 film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. Shockingly, the star even turned down down his role in Speed 2: Cruise Control to play Hamlet at the Manitoba Theater Centre in 1995!
But that’s not all, folks! Keanu is a poet and you didn’t even know it! Inspired by the popularity of the early 2000s meme “Sad Keanu,” Reeves sat down and penned a book of intentionally ironic poetry. His collection of poems, entitled Ode to Happiness, includes classic lines like “I draw a hot sorrow bath” and “I wash my hair with regret shampoo.” Complete with dramatically dark ink paintings by Alexandra Grant, the book is probably one of the best things Keanu has ever done.
Behind The Scenes
If you’ve ever seen a millisecond of The Matrix, you’ll know that Keanu basically killed his role as underground hacker Neo. But what you may not have known that he was quasi-paralyzed while filming his epic role. During his time on set, Keanu was allegedly plagued by a painful spinal injury when several discs in his spine started to combine together. Evidently, Reeves began to experience the early stages of paralysis in his legs and had to undergo surgery on his neck to get back on track.
Since the actor’s no stranger to feeling ill on set, he also showed up to work to film the original John Wick with a high-grade fever. In an extended version of the film’s night club scene, Keanu fought a nasty fever as he shot himself through a gang of Theo Greyjoy’s thugs. The director himself provided commentary on the scene on the film’s Blu-ray disc, confirming Keanu’s fever was 103° during that sequence. Just further proof that Keanu is the most savage actor in Hollywood!
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