Keanu Reeves has been one of the film industry’s most intriguing and versatile actors since the 80s.
On screen, the Beirut-born, Canada-raised actor has saved humanity from robot slavery, avenged the death of his dog, delivered himself from military school and damnation, kept a doomed bus from blowing up, sold himself as a male prostitute, and made out with Paula Abdul.
But as prolific an actor as Reeves is, he remains far more private than many other celebrities.
Here are some things you may have not known about one of the coolest actors in Hollywood.
His role in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure nearly stopped him from being a serious actor – but his love of Shakespeare saved him
Thanks to his early ‘dumb guy’ roles, Reeves was in danger of being typecast in the early 90s. So when Kenneth Branagh cast Keanu as Don John in his 1993 screen adaptation in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, it was something of a surprise.
But Keanu had actually been performing Shakespeare for years. He even turned down a $12 million offer to star in Speed 2 so that he could play hamlet in Manitoba Canada.
He was haunted by a jacket
Skip to 1:08 to hear Keanu talk about his ghost experience:
While living in the New York area, young Keanu encountered what he believes was a ghost.
He said on Jimmy Kimmel Live!:
There’s a doorway, all of a sudden we’re looking over there and this jacket comes waving through the doorway. Like, there’s no head, there’s no body, there’s no legs. It’s just there and then it disappeared.
He donates a lot of time and money to cancer charities
Reeves is very close with his sister, Kim, who was diagnosed with leukemia in the 90s. Filming on The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions was reportedly delayed so he could spend more time with his sister and nurse her back to health. In Kim’s honour, Keanu has donated huge amounts of his time and money to charities, hospitals, and research facilities.
He’ll take a pay cut to work with his idols
If Keanu really wants to work with a specific actor, he isn’t above forgoing a portion of his usual salary to help make it happen. He reportedly did this so he could star in The Devil’s Advocate with Al Pacino and The Replacements with Gene Hackman.
And during the two Matrix sequels, Keanu made a portion of the movie’s box office take in addition to his salary. Instead of keeping the money for himself, he diverted the money ($80 million of his $114 million earnings according to reports) to the costume and special effects teams – essentially donating millions so that movies could be completed after the production nearly ran out of cash. He also bought each one of the 12 stunt men a Harley Davidson as a ‘thank you’.
He’s suffered some major personal tragedies
Keanu met production assistant Jennifer Syme in 1998 and fell in love. I 1999, they were expecting a child together. Tragically, when Jennifer was almost full term, doctors declared the baby had died – the stress of the loss of the child contributed to the demise of their relationship. Less than two years later while driving home from a party at Marilyn Manson’s, Syme, who was only 28-years-old at the time, was killed in a car accident.
He’s mad for motorcycles
Keanu apparently loves motorcycles so much, that he started his own business the Arch Motorcycle Company, whose signature product was designed by Keanu and friend and co-founder Gard Hollinger – the custom built superbikes have two V-twin engines and cost $78,000 (£63,215) each.
He was in a band
Shortly after filming of Bill and Ted wrapped up, Keanu started a garage band called Dogstar in his actual garage – he played electric bass. At the band’s first gig, an up and coming band called Weezer (you may have heard of them) was their opening act.