Skip to main content
Select Source:

Reeves, Keanu 1964–

REEVES, Keanu 1964

(K. C. Reeves)

PERSONAL

First name is pronounced Keyahnoo; full name, Keanu Charles Reeves; born September 2 (other sources cite September 4 or August 2), 1964, in Beirut, Lebanon; son of Samuel Nowlin Reeves (a geologist) and Patricia Bond (a costume designer and performer). Education: Attended High School for the Performing Arts, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Leah Posluns Theatre School; attended De La Salle College; trained for the stage at Second City workshop, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and at Hedgerow Theatre in Pennsylvania. Avocational Interests: Motorcycling, horseback riding, surfing, ballroom dancing.

Addresses: Agent Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Manager 3 Arts Entertainment, 9460 Wilshire Blvd., Seventh Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist PMK/HBH Public Relations, 8500 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Career: Actor. Bass guitarist for Dogstar (band) and Becky (band); appeared in television commercials for Kellogg's cereals, CocaCola, and MTV cable television network; also worked as a manager of a pasta shop, pasta chef, tree cutter, and skate sharpener.

Awards, Honors: MTV Movie Award, most desirable male, 1991, for Point Break; MTV Movie Award (with Sandra Bullock), best onscreen duo, MTV Movie Award nominations, best male performance, most desirable male, and best kiss (with Bullock), all 1994, for Speed; MTV Movie Award nominations, most desirable male and (with Aitana SanchezGijon) best kiss, both 1995, for A Walk in the Clouds; named one of the "top 100 movie stars of all time," Empire magazine, 1997; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actoraction/science fiction, MTV Movie awards, best male performance and (with Laurence Fishburne) best fight, Golden Slate Award, Csapnivalo Awards, best actor in a leading role, Saturn Award nomination, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, best actor, and MTV Movie Award nomination (with Laurence Fishburne), best onscreen duo, all 2000, for The Matrix.

CREDITS

Film Appearances:

One Step Away, 1985.

Heaver, Youngblood, MetroGoldwynMayer/United Artists, 1986.

Tommy, Flying (also known as Dream to Believe and Teenage Dream ), Golden Communications, 1986.

Matt, River's Edge, Island, 1987.

Chevelier Danceny, Dangerous Liaisons, Warner Bros., 1988.

Chris Townsend, Permanent Record, Paramount, 1988.

Rupert Marshetta, The Prince of Pennsylvania, New Line Cinema, 1988.

Winston Connelly, The Night Before, Kings Road, 1988.

18 Again, New World, 1988.

Ted "Theodore" Logan, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Orion, 1989.

Tod Hawkes, Parenthood, Universal, 1989.

Marlon James, I Love You to Death, TriStar, 1990.

Martin Loader, Tune in Tomorrow ... (also known as Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter ), Cinecom/TriStar, 1990.

Eric, Providence, 1991.

FBI special agent Johnny Utah, Point Break, Twentieth CenturyFox, 1991.

Scott Favor, My Own Private Idaho, Fine Line, 1991.

Theodore "Ted" Logan and "Evil Ted," Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Orion, 1991.

Jonathan Harker, Bram Stoker's Dracula (also known as Dracula ), Columbia, 1992.

Don John, Much Ado about Nothing, Samuel Goldwyn, 1993.

(Uncredited) Juan Ortiz (the dog boy), Freaked (also known as Hideous Mutant Freekz ), Twentieth CenturyFox, 1993.

Julian Gitche, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Fine Line, 1994.

Officer Jack Traven, Speed, Twentieth CenturyFox, 1994.

Prince Siddhartha, Little Buddha, Miramax, 1994.

Street thug, The Prodigal (short film), 1994.

Title role, Johnny Mnemonic (also known as JM and Johnny Mnemonique ), TriStar, 1995.

Paul Sutton, A Walk in the Clouds, Twentieth CenturyFox, 1995.

Eddie Kasalivich, Chain Reaction (also known as Dead Drop and Pursuit ), Twentieth CenturyFox, 1996.

Jjaks Clayton, Feeling Minnesota, Jersey Films, 1996.

Harry, The Last Time I Committed Suicide, 1997.

Kevin Lomax, The Devil's Advocate (also known as Diabolos and Im Auftrag des Teufels ), Warner Bros., 1997.

Thomas A. Anderson/Neo, The Matrix, Warner Bros., 1999.

David Allen Griffin, The Watcher (also known as Driven ), MCA/Universal, 2000.

Donnie Barksdale, The Gift, Paramount, 2000.

Shane "Footsteps" Falco, The Replacements, Warner Bros., 2000.

Conor O'Neill, Hard Ball (also known as Hardball ), Paramount, 2001.

Himself, The Gift: A Look Inside (documentary short film), Warner Home Video, 2001.

Himself and Neo, The Matrix Revisited (documentary), 2001.

Nelson Moss, Sweet November, Warner Bros., 2001.

Julian Mercer, Something's Gotta Give, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2003.

Himself, Keanu Reeves: Journey to Success, Koch Entertainment, 2003.

Himself, Mayor of the Sunset Strip (documentary), First Look Pictures Releasing, 2003.

Neo, The Matrix Reloaded, Warner Bros., 2003, released in an IMAX version as The Matrix Reloaded: The IMAX Experience, IMAX, 2003.

Neo, The Matrix Revolutions, Warner Bros., 2003, released in an IMAX version as The Matrix Revolutions: The IMAX Experience, IMAX, 2003.

Voice of Neo, "Kid's Story," The Animatrix (animated short film; also known as The Animatrix: Kid's Story ), Warner Home Video, 2003.

Dr. Perry Lyman, Thumbsucker, 2004.

John Constantine, Constantine, Warner Bros., 2004.

Television Appearances; Series:

Cohost, Going Great, c. 1985.

Voice of Theodore "Ted" Logan, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures (animated), CBS, 19901991 then Fox, 19911992.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Teenager, Letting Go, ABC, 1985.

Alex/Jack Be Nimble, Babes in Toyland, NBC, 1986.

Buddy Martin, Act of Vengeance, HBO, 1986.

Derek, Brotherhood of Justice, ABC, 1986.

Eddie Talbot, Under the Influence, NBC, 1986.

(As K. C. Reeves) Michael "Mick" Riley at the age of seventeen, "Young Again," Disney Sunday Movie, ABC, 1986.

Member of the band Dogstar, Me and Will, Sundance Channel, 1998.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Kip, "Life under Water," American Playhouse, PBS, 1989.

Save the Planet (also known as Save the Planet: A CBS/Hard Rock Cafe Special ), CBS, 1990.

Himself, The Making of "Speed " (documentary), 1994.

Great American Music: A Salute to Fast Cars, syndicated, 1994.

"In the Footsteps of the Buddha," Legendary Trails, PBS, 1994.

Host, "Children Remember the Holocaust" (documentary; also known as "Nothing but Sun" and "Through Their Eyes: Children Remember the Holocaust"), CBS Schoolbreak Specials, CBS, 1995.

Himself, Making "The Matrix " (documentary), 1999.

Himself, Hollywood Celebrates Denzel Washington: An American Cinematheque Tribute, American Movie Classics, 2003.

(Uncredited) Himself, Trier, Kidman og Cannes, TV2 Danmark [Denmark], 2003.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

Presenter, The 1992 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1992.

Presenter, The 1993 MTV Movie Awards, MTV and syndicated, 1993.

Himself, The 1995 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1995.

Presenter, The 67th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1995.

Presenter, The 71st Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1999.

The 1999 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1999.

Presenter, The 72nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 2000.

The Sixth Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2000.

The 2000 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2000.

Presenter, The 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2001.

Himself, The 2003 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2003.

Presenter, The 75th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2003.

The 2003 Teen Choice Awards, Fox, 2003.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Hanging In, CBC, 1979.

Thug, "Necessary Force," Night Heat, CBS, 1985.

Joey, "Moving Day," Trying Times, PBS, 1987.

Jesse Walker, "Two Lost Souls," The Tracey Ullman Show, Fox, 1989.

The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 1994, 1996, 2001, and 2003.

Himself, HiOctane, Comedy Central, 1995.

Himself, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1997 and 2001.

The Entertainment Business, Bravo, 1998.

Himself (number fourteen), "25 Toughest Stars," E! Rank, E! Entertainment Television, 2001.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2001 (two episodes) and 2003.

Movie House, MTV, 2002.

Himself, "Enter the Playtrix," Player$, 2003.

Himself, Filmland, Danmarks Radio [Denmark], 2003.

Himself, God kveld Norge, 2003.

Himself, Live with Regis and Kelly, syndicated, 2003.

Himself, Matthew's Best Hit TV, TV Asahi [Japan], 2003.

Himself, Rove Live, Ten Network, 2003.

Himself and bass guitarist for the band Becky, The Sharon Osbourne Show, syndicated, 2003.

Himself, The View, ABC, 2003.

Himself in archive footage, "Keanu Reeves," Biography (also known as A & E Biography ), Arts and Entertainment, 2003.

Himself in archive footage, "Star Tracks," One Hit Wonders (also known as VH1's One Hit Wonders Presents: Star Tracks ), VH1, 2003.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

Crackers, "Fast Food," The Comedy Factory, ABC, 1985.

Himself, Action, syndicated, 1999.

Stage Appearances:

Wolfboy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1984.

Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1985.

Trinculo, The Tempest, Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA, 1989.

Title role, Hamlet, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1995.

Also appeared in other productions, including For Adults Only.

RECORDINGS

Video Games:

Neo, Enter the Matrix, Infogames Entertainment, 2003.

Albums with Dogstar:

Quattro Formaggi, Dogstar Zoo/Volcano Records, 1996.

Our Little Visionary, Dogstar Freeworld, 1997.

Happy Ending, Dogstar Ultimate Music, 2000.

Music Videos:

"Rush Rush," by Paula Abdul, 1991.

Videos:

Captivated '92: The Video Collection, by Paula Abdul, 1991.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 1996.

Keanu Reeves: Tear Out Photo Book, Oliver Books, 1994.

Kohler, Michael, Keanu Reeves, Bertz Verlag, 2003.

Periodicals:

Biography, September, 2000, pp. 5054, 116.

Entertainment Weekly, April 9, 1999, p. 26; November 7, 2003, pp. 2428.

Maclean's, January 23, 1995.

Newsweek, June 13, 1994.

People Weekly, June 5, 1995, p. 70; June 5, 2000, p. 18; April 23, 2001, pp. 5859; June 2, 2003, pp. 6364.

Premiere, March, 1996, p. 58.

Rolling Stone, March 9, 1989.

Sport, November, 1997, p. 76.

SunTimes (Chicago), March 28, 1999.

Times (London), January 11, 1998.

Us, March, 1995; February, 1999.

USA Weekend, August 4, 2000, pp. 68.

Vanity Fair, August, 1995; February, 2001, pp. 6065, 11012.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Reeves, Keanu 1964–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Reeves, Keanu 1964–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/reeves-keanu-1964

"Reeves, Keanu 1964–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/reeves-keanu-1964

Reeves, Keanu

REEVES, Keanu



Nationality: Canadian/American. Born: Beirut, Lebanon, 2 September 1964, to a Chinese-Hawaiian father and British mother. Education: Attended High School for the Performing Arts, Toronto, was graduated in 1982; studied acting at Hedgerow Theatre, Moylan, Pennsylvania, and at Lea Posluns Community Theatre, Toronto. Career: First professional stage and TV roles, in Toronto, 1984; moved to Los Angeles, 1986; won serious critical attention for role in River's Edge, 1987; popular success as action hero in Speed followed by stage production of Hamlet in Winnipeg, 1994. Awards: Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actor-Action/Science Fiction, and Csapnivalo Award (Budapest) for Best Actor in a Leading Role, for The Matrix, 2000. Agent: Creative Artists Agency, c/o Erwin Stoff, 9830 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A. Address: 581 N. Crescent Heights Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:

1986

Dream to Believe (Flying) (Paul Lynch) (as Tommy);Youngblood (Markle) (as Hoover); Act of Vengeance(Mackenzie—for TV) (as Buddy Martin); Under the Influence (Thomas Carter—for TV) (as Eddie Talbot); Babes in Toyland (Clive Donner—for TV) (as Alex/Jack Be Nim-ble); Brotherhood of Justice (Braverman—for TV) (as Derek); Young Again (Steven Hilliard Stern—for TV) (as Michael Riley, age 17)

1987

River's Edge (Hunter) (as Matt)

1988

The Night Before (Eberhardt) (as Winston Connelly); The Prince of Pennsylvania (Nyswander) (as Rupert Marshetta);Permanent Record (Marisa Silver) (as Chris Townsend);Dangerous Liaisons (Frears) (as the Chevalier Danceny)

1989

Parenthood (Ron Howard) (as Tod); Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (Herek) (as Ted "Theodore" Logan)

1990

Tune in Tomorrow . . . (Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter)(Amiel) (as Martin Loader); I Love You to Death (Kasdan)(as Marlon James)

1991

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (Hewitt) (as Ted "Theodore"Logan); My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant) (as Scott Favor); Point Break (Bigelow) (as Johnny Utah)

1992

Bram Stoker's Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola) (as Jona-than Harker)

1993

Much Ado about Nothing (Branagh) (as Don John); Little Buddha (Bertolucci) (as Siddhartha Gautama); Freaked(Hideous Mutant Freekz) (Winter and Tom Stern) (as Ortizthe Dog Boy, uncredited)

1994

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (Van Sant) (as Julian Glitche);Speed (De Bont) (as Jack Traven)

1995

Johnny Mnemonic (Longo) (title character); A Walk in the Clouds (Arau) (as Paul Sutton); Children Remember the Holocaust (doc) (as host)

1996

Feeling Minnesota (Baigleman) (as Jjaks Clayton); Chain Reaction (A. Davis) (as Eddie)

1997

The Last Time I Committed Suicide (Ray) (as Harry); The Devil's Advocate (Hackford) (as Kevin Lomax)

1998

Me and Will (Behr and Rose) (cameo)

1999

The Matrix (Wachowski brothers) (as Thomas Anderson/Neo)

2000

Sweet November (O'Connor) (as Nelson Moss); The Replacements (Deutch) (as Shane Falco); The Watcher (Charbanic)(as Griffin)



Publications


On REEVES: books—

Johnson, Sheila, Keanu Reeves: A Biography, London, 1996.

Membry, York, Keanu Reeves, New York, 1997.

Robb, Brian J., Keanu Reeves: An Excellent Adventure, London, 2000.


On REEVES: articles—

Snowden, Lynn, "Keanu Reeves," in Rolling Stone (New York), 9 March 1989.

Ansen, David, "Goodbye, Airhead," in Newsweek (New York), 13 June 1994.

Current Biography 1995, New York, 1995.

Slack, Lyle, "Keanu's Excellent Adventure," in Maclean's (Toronto), 23 January 1995.

"Hollywood to Hamlet," in Plays and Players (London), March 1995.

Shnayerson, Michael, "Young and Restless," in Vanity Fair (New York), August 1995.

"Keanu Reeves," in Film Review (London), March 1996.

Kaplan, James, "Why Keanu Reeves Won't Sell His Soul," in Premiere (Los Angeles), September 1997.


* * *

For someone whose acting talents have been judged slight by a number of critics, Keanu Reeves has nonetheless attracted the interest of several distinguished film directors, from Bernardo Bertolucci to Stephen Frears, along with younger independents like Gus Van Sant, who have cast him in important roles. And for someone who might have sustained a major career in nothing but light comedies and action-adventure films, Reeves has often chosen parts that are far from standard Hollywood fare, from a bisexual street hustler who is also a modern-day Prince Hal to a very different prince, Siddhartha the Buddha. Since his great success as an action hero in Speed his roles have, to be sure, been more frequently mainstream, and in The Matrix, as a hero in virtual mode most of the time (not to mention his cool black trenchcoat in the climax), he has come closer to being a pure iconographic figure than almost any star before him.

Largely a Torontoan in upbringing and theatrical training, Reeves retained a youthful demeanor long enough to allow him to play troubled or airheaded teenagers well into his twenties. In one of his earliest starring roles, in The Prince of Pennsylvania, a film that veers uneasily between family melodrama and farce, Reeves typically has little vocal range: often he sounds as if he has a head cold, and for the most part looks rather blank. All the same, he seems perfectly cast as a disaffected youth of the 1980s, guarded and unrevealing of inner feelings, yet with occasional surprisingly playful or sarcastic moments. It is very far from a Method performance, as we can see most clearly by comparing him with his costar in a later film, My Own Private Idaho: here, every flicker of River Phoenix's face registers some dream or torment, while Reeves, as the unforthcoming "Prince Hal," the supposed best friend of Phoenix's narcolept, remains masked. Is it Reeves or the character who is masked, we may ask, and in either case is there anything behind the facade? This may be either good acting or astute casting on Van Sant's part for the role of a seemingly affectless modern youth.

In the case of Little Buddha, the question of acting ability seems almost irrelevant. Bertolucci too made an inspired choice in casting Reeves as Prince Siddhartha, if only for his sheer screen presence: he has the bearing of an Indian prince (or a movie star), with the handsomeness of an undefined nationality along with a seeming inwardness, to make the pageantlike historical segments of the film work brilliantly.

Playing livelier, more impetuous characters, Reeves makes more use of a boyish intensity, whether he is the hippie lover of Parenthood or a more aristocratic swain in Dangerous Liaisons. In the Bill and Ted comedies, Reeves shows far greater animation in his jovial goofiness than his truly blank costar, Alex Winter. Yet in certain roles where he must be a stock leading man (Bram Stoker's Dracula) or where the director seems incapable of getting anything interesting out of the character (Johnny Mnemonic), Reeves is a virtual cipher. In A Walk in the Clouds his extremely reserved demeanor does work, even though the role calls for an old-fashioned heart-on-sleeve romantic warmth: perhaps because his performance is a striking contrast to the heated ones of his Hispanic and Italian costars, perhaps because the camera registers him as a genuine movie star, "the true prince," the way Falstaff recognizes Hal by "instinct."

In Speed Reeves gives a more nuanced performance, despite the formula role. Still exhibiting traces of his Valley Boy persona while playing a heroic cop, he brings a deliciously comic note to moments of suspense, as when Jack tries to calm a gunman who cannot recognize the larger peril of the boobytrapped bus: "I don't know you, man. I'm not here for you. Let's not do this. . . . I don't care about your crime. Whatever you did, I'm sure (pause) that you're sorry. So it's cool now." Most important, he also brings a combination of physical energy and enough animation of face and voice to suggest possibilities of true range in future film roles.

The promise remains to be fulfilled, though in The Devil's Advocate he does give an unusually forceful performance as—quite literally—the title character, a smooth and confident Southern lawyer (sporting a mild Elvis accent) hired by the Prince of Darkness himself (Al Pacino) to work at a high-powered New York firm. Reeves succeeds in some courtroom speeches that call for an aggressiveness held in check, with an underlay of doubt or guilt, and he rises to moments of furious anger and horror as his character's life comes apart, while always serving as a model of relative normality against Pacino in a flamboyant, wickedly comic performance.

Reeves has continued to support low-budget independent projects, such as The Last Time I Committed Suicide, in which he appears pale and puffy-faced in a supporting role as proto-beatnik Neal Cassady's loser of a drinking buddy. Feeling Minnesota (a black comedy that rather pales in comparison to another saga of the Upper Midwest, Fargo) offers him an essentially passive role as an ex-con embroiled in a murderous plot involving his brother's wife. Shy, wary, puzzled, his character does little but react to the more extreme behavior of others, notably Vincent d'Onofrio.

Passivity and wariness are the keywords too for what may well turn out to be his most defining role, as the Chosen One/Neo, in The Matrix. Neo is, of course, ultimately an action figure, with the classic American hero's perfect blend of modesty and grim determination; but all the same, scene after scene calls for him simply to be astonished, while all the other characters speak in archly knowing, portentous tones. What is perhaps most significant about the role is not only that Reeves plays a character who leads a computerenhanced life, but that Reeves' own body is frequently computerenhanced, most memorably as he dodges bullets and goes though "heightened" martial arts movements. Theorists who have written about the absorption of the post-human body into the machine in films like the Robocop and Terminator series should have much to say about the virtual Keanu in The Matrix, a film in which a star's riveting screen presence is not just partially a result of makeup and lighting (as has always been the case) but frequently a design on a computer grid.

—Joseph Milicia

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Reeves, Keanu." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Reeves, Keanu." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/reeves-keanu

"Reeves, Keanu." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/reeves-keanu