The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Keanu Reeves

There's no denying that when it comes to movie stars, Keanu Reeves is as big as they get. Sure, you might always think of him first and foremost as Ted from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," or as Neo from "The Matrix," but no one can deny he's proven he's much more than that.

And still, Keanu Reeves has managed to hold onto his reputation as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. Even interviewers and journalists say that — before noting how hard it is to get him to talk about anything personal. When Esquire tried to get him to open up about some things, they noted that, "He is a master of speaking without saying much of anything at all." And that's... frustrating, at least, it is for people who are hungry to know everything they can find out about their favorite — but notoriously private — star.

And that seems to be, in part, because of what information has gotten out about him. While it might seem like Reeves lives something of a charmed life, that's not the case at all. There's more than his fair share of tragedy in his background, and while he doesn't like to talk about it much, there are some things we do know.

His parents got together on a Beirut beach

Interviewing Keanu Reeves is difficult, says Esquire. He's a master at being polite to an almost surreal level, while dodging questions in such an artful way that many don't even realize he's doing it. He's also extremely private when it comes to his personal life, and that's left a lot of the details of his young life, well, a little hazy.

Reeves' parents, says The Guardian, met on a beach in Beirut — and that's not the Beirut of the 21st century. This was the 1960s, when it was one of the places to be: Patricia Reeves (pictured) had left England and found herself there, while Samuel Reeves was just sort of wandering his way across the world. Any more than that is less clear. It's been reported that Patricia was working as a showgirl at the time the pair got together and had their first child, but Keanu has also clarified that she was a costume designer.

While Keanu was born in Beirut, they didn't stay there long: "I don't have any memories of it. I think I was only six or seven months old when my parents left" (via Esquire).

His sister was born later — in Australia — and by the time Keanu was 3, his parents split, according to The Guardian. By the time he was 6, the small family had settled down in Toronto. Keanu has spoken a bit about the impact it had on him: "For sure, I think it's definitely traumatizing. But ... I don't know what the other life would have been, you know what I mean?"

Keanu Reeves' complicated relationship with his father

Keanu Reeves (pictured, with his sister Karina Miller) has been estranged from his father for a long, long time. Samuel Nowlin Reeves was, People notes, the son of a wealthy family vacationing in Lebanon who he met and married a local showgirl named Patricia. The union resulted in Keanu and a sister, Kim, but not much else — The Guardian says that Keanu was just three when his father split and left the family. He kept in touch until Keanu was 13, and his thoughts on it are nothing short of inspiring. "For sure, I think it's definitely traumatizing. But it's hard to know how [it affected me] because I don't know what that other life would have been, you know what I mean?"

Keanu's mother took her son and daughter and moved to New York City, where she eventually married director Paul Aaron. The new family then hopped up to Toronto, the couple split the following year, and Keanu, his sister, and his mother moved again and again... and again.

Keanu Reeves says his estranged father did attempt to reach out to him at least once: "Yeah, in the mid-90s, but I didn't reach back out." Why? He doesn't say. The attempt at connecting came on the heels of his father's conviction for selling heroin, but "[...] that wasn't why I didn't get in touch! I just didn't."

His childhood was authentic Gen-X

When Keanu Reeves spoke to Esquire in 2021, he talked a bit about his childhood growing up in Toronto. It was the sort of childhood that every Gen-Xer will find comfortably familiar, at the same time 21st century parents are being horrified.

Some of his earliest memories are of playing hockey in the streets and having chestnut fights — which is exactly what it sounds like, cracking open chestnuts and throwing them at each other. He talked about building go-karts, spending ages at the movies, and even the occasional candy theft. "We were latchkey kids," he said in a 2017 Esquire interview. "It was basically 'leave the house in the morning and come back at night.' It was cool." Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, he also liked his alone time. Taking advantage of the fact that children could ride the subway for a quarter, he'd often hop on and ride until he got to a stop that he wasn't all that familiar with. Then, he'd just get off and wander, a pastime credited for his ability to feel at home in almost any city in the world.

At the same time, his childhood was also pretty bizarre. With his mother working as a costume designer and his stepfather being a film and theater director, it meant that he met a lot of people. Alice Cooper was one of his babysitters, and he remembered meeting icons like Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.

Fun fact? The Independent says that Reeves' mother worked with Parton on multiple occasions and did the bunny costume for her 1978 Playboy cover. When Parton didn't keep the costume, it ended up going home with the designer — and Reeves wore it for Halloween.

His childhood ghost story

Keanu Reeves has starred in one of the most mind-bending movies in recent history — but what does he think about the possibility of a world that we can't see existing around us? It turns out that he's actually a believer, and he said so on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

When Kimmel asked if he'd ever seen a ghost, he responded that yes, he had — as a child. The story is an eerie one, and he tells of being around 6 years old and living in New York. His sister was asleep, their nanny was keeping an eye on them, and Reeves was just kind of chilling in bed. That's the scene, when "this jacket comes waving through the doorway. ... There's no head, there's no body, there's no legs, it's just there, and then it disappears."

Reeves says he wasn't the only one to see it and saw the expression on his nanny's face as complete confirmation that yes, that had really just happened. Was he scared? He says, "I was a little kid, and I thought, 'Well, that's interesting.'"

He got kicked out of school ... a lot

When People spoke to Paula Warder, Keanu Reeves' primary school teacher from the Jesse Ketchum Public School in Toronto, she remembered: "I don't think he ever got to a class on time. And when he did arrive, he wasn't quite, well... with it. He always left his books at home or forgot his homework. But he'd just smile and go back home and get them. And somehow he did pass his classes."

When The Mail on Sunday sat down with Reeves, he revealed a few insights into his younger years: including his obsession with sci-fi. "I used to escape into another world as a kid. [...] It was that whole idea of getting out of my own circumstances, a fascination with distant planets, unknown mysteries, going wherever the imagination could go. I loved 'Star Wars,' '2001: A Space Odyssey,' and 'Blade Runner.'"

He says that while he excelled at ice hockey, was good at English and writing, and he was on the chess team, his difficulties were, in hindsight, all on him. "[...] I guess I didn't fit in. I had conflicts and run-ins with the staff. The principal and I didn't see eye to eye. I was one of those 'Why?' kids — I asked too many questions about everything. I couldn't stop, even if it got me into trouble. I wanted my autonomy, and if you wanted to impose something on me, then you and I would have a problem." Perhaps unsurprisingly, Reeves' school career came to an abrupt end when he was expelled at 16 — which he says was "very upsetting."

Reeves left home when he was 18, and by that time, Esquire says that he had four high schools under his belt, and no diploma. Just two years later, he packed what he could into his 1969 Volvo 122, and headed to L.A.

His introduction to the movie industry wasn't glamorous

While some actors might not get into the business until later in life, that wasn't the case with Keanu Reeves. He told The Guardian that his introduction came early, and it really started when his mother — who was working as a costume designer in Toronto — would send him to fetch materials and task him with cleaning up her studio in exchange for his weekly allowance.

That may have been the beginning, but Reeves credits his mother's second husband, Paul Aaron, with getting him on-set. He was 15 years old and on summer break from school when Aaron "hired" him as a production assistant on a Chuck Norris film called "A Force of One." That sounds more glamorous than it was, and Reeves said his main jobs included things like keeping crowds out of the way, fetching drinks, and making sure the snacks were kept appropriately cold. Decades had passed between his first venture on a movie set and super-stardom, but he still remembered — excitedly — bringing Claudette Colbert a Sprite.

The whole time, he recalled, he was drinking it all in: "I was watching the grips, I was watching actors, I was seeing how a film set really works, the call-sheets, the generator, the lights, the lunchtimes."

It was experience that would serve him well in the decades to come.

His love of sci-fi kick-started his interest in movies

It's not too surprising to find out that Neo's real-life childhood was shaped by science fiction, and while Keanu Reeves picked it up in high school, he's said that it shaped who he is in many ways.

His remake of "The Day The Earth Stood Still" would come in with a dismal 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, but he was optimistic when he spoke with The Mail on Sunday ahead of the film's release. It was kind of coming full circle for him: "I loved the original Michael Rennie film. I remember seeing it first when I was 14, on a black-and-white television. It's a cautionary tale. ... The film is also about human nature, the fact that it's only when our backs are against the wall that we do anything to change."

It's also sci-fi that's allowed him to put his career's let-downs in perspective, and he explained how to The Guardian. He was 19 years old and a massive "Star Wars" fan when "Return of the Jedi" was released. He said, "I went in, like, 'Wow, I wonder, are they gonna do this, and will they do that ...? And then I was, like, 'Oh no. Oh NO.'"

But that moment has helped him understand movie audiences who might be less than thrilled with what's unfolding on the big screen, and it's also that moment that's helped him accept that movies are the vision of their creators, not the audiences. "It's their work of art, man. I try to come to their art and meet it wherever it is."

He didn't always like his name and almost changed it

In 2017, Jimmy Fallon described Keanu Reeves' name as pretty much perfect for an A-list movie star, but Reeves wasn't entirely sold and said that in fact, not only had he not thought of his name as anything special while he was growing up, he had almost changed it when he first arrived in Hollywood. He recalled that it had been the very first day he met with his agent and his manager that they said they were going to change his name, because (Fallon suggests) no one was going to hire "Keanu Reeves."

Reeves said that he took the whole thing incredibly seriously, knowing that whatever he picked was going to be his identity. So, he headed to the beach and sat there as he reflected on what he wanted to be called for the rest of his life. What did the ocean suggest? Chuck Spadina. His agent — fortunately — said no, and although Reeves said he wanted to know "What's wrong with Chuck Spadina?" he gave it another go. He went back to them with a second option: Templeton Page Taylor. Needless to say, they let him stick with Keanu Reeves.

Strangely, he also revealed on Jimmy Kimmel Live that yes, he's met another person that's named "Keanu," and it's his cousin. How awkward is that?

Stardom came in a weird way

From blockbusters like "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and action movies like "Speed" to heavy-hitting indie films and just heavy films like "My Own Private Idaho," Keanu Reeves' career is almost shockingly diverse. But according to what he told The Guardian, he didn't really plan it that way: "It wasn't as thought out as, OK, I finished 'Point Break,' so now I'd better play a street prostitute. It was more like, OK, I finished this, now I want to do that."

But here's the weird thing: Even though countless teenagers of a certain age grew up seeing him in all the teen magazines and having posters of him on bedroom walls and lockers, he told Esquire that his rise to stardom wasn't the nightly party and endless stream of fawning fans that one might expect. When they mentioned that he was something of a heart-throb pin-up, he demurred, "Was I? Crazy! No, I never thought of myself as that."

The moment that he first realized he was famous is perhaps the most Keanu Reeves thing ever, and it happened when he and a friend were at the movie theater and got in line to get some snacks. "We went to get an ice cream and the guy's like, 'River's Edge!' And he wouldn't let me pay. And I was like, 'Come on.' And he was like, 'No! "River's Edge!" And I was, like, 'Cool!'"

Esquire calls it "not the greatest blag ever," but actually? It kind of is.

How he met River Phoenix

Everyone has those chance meetings that change a life forever, and for Keanu Reeves, that was meeting River Phoenix. According to Esquire, in 1989, Reeves was cast in the Ron Howard flick "Parenthood." Playing his girlfriend was Martha Plimpton, and at the time, her real-life boyfriend was River Phoenix. (Her on-screen little brother was, incidentally, Leaf Phoenix — who would later go back to being called Joaquin.) Reeves, Plimpton, and the two Phoenix brothers became real-life friends, hanging out on- and off-set.

As "Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind," by Gavin Edwards, details (via Grantland), it was just before Christmas of that year that Reeves read the script for "My Own Private Idaho," by Gus Van Sant, then hopped on his motorcycle to ride from Canada to Florida and take it to Phoenix personally. In fact, this wasn't the first attempt to bring Phoenix on board. His agent had previously refused to even bring the script to him and his family, citing it as way, way too taboo for teen actors that were more the stuff of Tiger Beat magazine than gritty indie films. 

But when Reeves brought the script to Phoenix, it got the ball rolling. After seeing Van Sant's "Drugstore Cowboy," Phoenix was convinced, and the two actors later agreed to do the film — starring as sex workers with male clientele — together.

Phoenix later described the idea of doing the movie his agent had refused to pitch him but that Reeves had: "We were excited. We just forced ourselves into it."

He lost his good friend to drugs

While shooting for "My Own Private Idaho" was happening, Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix went method, according to "Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind," by Gavin Edwards (via Grantland). Along with holding all-night sessions playing all kinds of music, they — and particularly Phoenix — hit the streets to learn from former sex workers. It was also there that Phoenix decided to go so deep into the role that it included using heroin. Former street hustler and Idaho production assistant Matt Ebert recalled, "Let me tell you, it did not take him long to go from, you know, a casual user to having an intense drug problem."

The film was released in 1991, and by the time shooting was finished, a journalist reported that "there's not much difference in his performance when the camera is rolling and when it is not." Phoenix, it turned out, was way deeper than anyone had guessed. Two years later — on October 30 — Phoenix, Samantha Mathis, and two of Phoenix's siblings stopped at Johnny Depp's Viper Room. Phoenix wanted to stay, and although Mathis recalled (via The Guardian) "... he was high in a way that made me uncomfortable," they stayed. Just 45 minutes later, everything had changed, and Phoenix was dead. The official cause was a drug overdose.

When Phoenix died, Reeves was just starting to shoot "Speed" with Sandra Bullock — who, says Esquire, happened to be friends with Mathis, Phoenix's then-girlfriend. Bullock recalled, "I watched how Keanu grieved. And oh, did he grieve for his friend. He's very private, but he couldn't hide that."

Nearly 30 years later, Reeves told Esquire, "I hate speaking about him in the past. So I almost always gotta keep it present. He was a really special person ... Thoughtful. Brave. And funny. And dark. And light. It was great to have known him. To — yea. Inspirational. Miss him."

Keanu Reeves' sister battled leukemia for years

Keanu Reeves' dedication to keeping his private life private extends to his family, too. According to Little Things, his sister Kim was diagnosed with leukemia sometime around 1991. For the next decade, she continued to fight the disease before finally going into remission. Reeves was at her side for much of it: People quoted an anonymous friend as saying, "When she was in the hospital he was there with her all the time, sitting at her bedside, holding her hand."

Unsurprisingly, it's had a lasting impact on Reeves, and while he's gone above and beyond to try to help other families going through similar things, he's super private about that, too. In 2009, he revealed to Ladies Home Journal (via Snopes): "I have a private foundation that's been running for five or six years, and it helps aid a couple of children's hospitals and cancer research. I don't like to attach my name to it, I just let the foundation do what it does."

Keanu Reeves lost his daughter and his girlfriend in tragic succession

In 1998, Keanu Reeves met the love of his young life at a party. Her name was Jennifer Syme, and they immediately started dating. Unfortunately, the relationship had a tragic trajectory. Syme became pregnant, and in 1999, she gave birth to a stillborn baby girl they named Ava. According to Paper, Syme suffered from severe postnatal depression, and she and Reeves broke up only a few weeks later.

Fast forward a bit: Syme was working as David Lynch's assistant when she met Marilyn Manson. She put the two in touch and it led to their collaboration on ""Lost Highway," and she went on to become good friends with Manson. In April 2001, he invited her to a party. At some point, he got a designated driver to take her home, but it seems as though she later wanted to return. She got in her car, collided with three parked cars, was thrown from her vehicle, and was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Reeves and Syme had remained close even after breaking up: People says they had been spotted having brunch the day before she died. They quoted a friend as saying Reeves was "finding it very, very difficult to cope with her death."

That time Keanu Reeves' career took a trip to movie jail

Take a glance at Keanu Reeves' credits, and you'll see he's been working pretty consistently for decades. But that's a bit deceiving, and Reeves told GQ that he paid dearly for a choice he made a long time ago: turning down Speed 2.

First, he had his reasons, saying (via Den of Geek): "I loved working with Jan de Bont and Sandra [Bullock], of course. It was just a situation in life where I got the script and I read the script and I was like, 'Ugggghhhh'. It was about a cruise ship and I was thinking, 'A bus, a cruise ship... Speed, bus, but then a cruise ship is even slower than a bus and I was like, 'I love you guys but I just can't do it.'" 

Regardless of whether or not reviews suggested he'd made the right choice, Reeves says he was blackballed by Fox for more than a decade after he turned down the not-so-speedy "Speed 2." He calls it "movie jail," and GQ also notes that he hasn't done too many studio movies that turn into a big deal.

The Day His Career Stood Still

When he talked to Esquire, he referred once again to being sent to "Studio Movie Jail" after the less-than-stellar performance of "The Day The Earth Stood Still," a movie he calls "The Day my Career Stood Still." Although it might seem impossible that a massive A-lister like Keanu Reeves still has some insecurities when it comes to his career, he says that "The Day the Earth Stood Still was a reminder: "You're always fighting for a career."

It was a lesson he learned early on. When he spoke to GQ in 2019, he was then 54 years old (and, incidentally, reflecting on how the BLT on ciabatta wasn't nearly as good as a peanut butter and honey sandwich on soft bread). Was he content in his career? No, he said, and it was pointed out that in spite of his consistent work, he hadn't starred in a studio production since the 2013 less-than-stellar performance of "47 Ronin."

He was honest about what it was really like in the industry, telling a story about Anthony Quinn on the set of "A Walk in the Clouds." Quinn, he said, was always on the phone and always checking on the next gig, even though he had been established for decades. When the young Reeves asked him, "Is it always going to be like this?" Quinn confirmed, "Yes."

Keanu Reeves was forced to do a movie thanks to a forged signature

One of Keanu Reeves' oddest roles has to be the serial killer from "The Watcher," a movie with a sad, sad 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. According to Reeves, he never wanted to do it — and he was forced into it.

He told the Calgary Sun (via The Guardian): "I never found the script interesting, but a friend of mine forged my signature on the agreement. I could not prove he did, and I didn't want to get sued for not honoring my contract, so I had no other choice but to do the film."

Reeves was held to a year-long silence about the film, but rumors started circulating early that suggested he was upset right from the start — particular about the size of his role, which had started out small and become the center of the film. He couldn't talk about it until 12 months after the release, though, and he didn't — when it premiered, Reeves refused to do any promotion for it and according to reviews, maybe they should have just let him out of the contract as he was almost universally condemned as being completely wrong for playing a serial killer.

He's relentlessly mocked over his intelligence

The world first met Keanu Reeves as the less-than-quick witted Ted "Theodore" Logan ... and the world also hasn't let him forget about it. When he went on Zach Galifianakis' "Between Two Ferns: The Movie," he was asked questions like, "On a scale of 1 to 100, how many words do you know?" and, "Is it frustrating when people think of you as a complete bozo? When the truth is, you're just a man with below-average intelligence?"

That's ... supposed to be funny, but it's also pretty harsh, too. GQ says the image wasn't helped by Reeves' early interactions with the press, where he was clearly uncomfortable with being on the receiving end of question after question. When GQ asked him if he was at peace with Ted's enduring influence? "Yeah. I mean — for me, it's like — that's easy. But, um. Yeah." And he told Rolling Stone: "That's frustrating. That's very frustrating. [...] I get no respect."

What do coworkers have to say about Reeves' intelligence? Richard Linklater, who directed him in "A Scanner Darkly," told Esquire, "It would be one of the biggest misreadings you could ever do to say, 'that's not a super-intelligent person.'" "The Matrix's" Laurence Fishburne agreed, saying, "[...] he's also incredibly curious and intelligent. It takes intelligence to be funny. His comic timing is excellent. He's survived because he's managed to evolve with the business we're in. That's down to curiosity and intelligence." So ... cut him some slack.

On finding himself while on the road

When CycleWorld talked to Keanu Reeves about the founding of his own motorcycle company, ARCH, they found that his love of bikes went all the way back to learning how to ride when he was 22 years old. He was working in Munich at the time, he told them, and asked a girl at the sound stage if she could give him a quick lesson on how the whole thing worked. She did — "she showed me where everything was" — and he was hooked. As soon as he got back to Los Angeles, he bought his first bike and never looked back.

"Over the years, I would buy used bikes whenever I worked," he told the outlet. It was Nortons that were his true love: "I loved the shape of them, the upswept pipes, and then I came to love the smell of them and how they rode." He still has the very first one he bought, too.

When he spoke with Esquire, he told them that he rode every day. Whether it was for practical reasons or just to get out and away from things for a while: "... you can get lost in the now."

It's that obsession that led to ARCH and his own business, founded alongside Gard Hollinger. After asking Hollinger to build him a custom bike, the two went into business together in 2011, says the Los Angeles Times. It all started with that bike, which Reeves loved so much "that I knew it was something we needed to share with the world."

Keanu Reeves has been in a ton of motorcycle accidents

Keanu Reeves' love of motorcycles is nothing short of legendary, but it turns out that he's paid quite a high price for it. What's "it?" Reeves told Esquire: "It's the physical sensation of riding, the wind, the smell, the sights, the connection to the machine, the living-in-nature." For him, it's also been a lot of injuries going all the way back to 1988, when he took a hairpin corner too fast. He dumped the bike, and says he laid there for around half an hour, convinced that he was going to die. He nearly did — he still has the scars, and he's missing his spleen thanks to the accident.

Since then, there's been more surgeries, more scars, and more broken bones — including one bone that Reeves saw, after taking a car bumper off with his right leg. Reeves spoke about the accident on The Graham Norton Show, where he revealed that it came just after he had a metal plate put into his neck. He spoke about the delay in deciding whether to dump the bike or go over the hood of the car, and by the time he decided, it was too late.

Minutes later, he was sitting on the curb, a tooth broken in half, and in shock. He shared this horrifying detail: "As I was sitting there, my skin was open on my shin. And bone white? It's very white. So, I kept touching it, and my friend was there. I was like, 'Look how white that is, that's crazy!'" And yes, once the person realized who he'd hit, they asked for an autograph.

Some of his teeth are fake, also thanks to accidents. So which one was the worst? "You know, it's weird. After the accidents the adrenaline kicks in, so it's not really painful. Maybe the broken ribs part. That was pretty uncomfortable."

His attempt at music wasn't well-received

Keanu Reeves might be almost insanely good at a lot of things, but one thing he's apparently not good at is playing in a band.

In the mid-90s, Reeves was already a pretty big star when he decided to start a band with a guy he met in the grocery store. They called it Dogstar, and they weren't terrible... they were, according to GQ, "serviceable." Reeves says otherwise, remembering that time they decided to play a Grateful Dead cover song at Milwaukee Metal Fest (in between groups like Murphy's Law, Cannibal Corpse, and Deicide). "We were like, 'They hate us. What are we doing here? What can we do? Let's do the Grateful Dead cover. They were just like, 'F*** you, you suck.' I had the biggest grin on my face, man." He added that the worst part wasn't his public roasting, but what happened to the other guys — honest musicians who were just trying to make a go of it. But, "I guess it would have helped if our band was better." 

But there's good news: Vice talked to Dogstar's Rob Mailhouse, and even though he says they absolutely weren't ready to start performing when they did, they did have Weezer open for them, and Bon Jovi asked them to go on tour with them. That's not too shabby.

Keanu Reeves has been the target of some weird lawsuits

Being in the public eye can come with getting some strange attention, and Keanu Reeves has definitely had that.

In 2008, a lawsuit against him went to trial. At the heart of the issue was a photographer named Alison Silva, who claimed he had been trying to get photos of Reeves when the actor hit him with his car, breaking his wrist. Reeves had a different story: he was visiting a relative in a hospital, Silva had followed him, and then tripped over himself and fell. With the help of an emergency room doctor who said it was an old injury and a video of not-so-injured Silva climbing a fence to get a peek at Britney Spears, the Los Angeles Times says it took just an hour for the jury to clear Reeves. 

Then, 2010 took an even weirder turn when Reeves was sued by Karen Sala. Sala claimed that he was the father of her four adult children, and that she was entitled to $3 million a month for her support, and another $150,000 a month in child support — retroactive. In spite of Reeves saying he had never met the woman and a DNA test proving he wasn't their father, it still went to court. Sala claimed that the DNA evidence was tampered with, Reeves had used hypnosis to... do something, and that he had, at one point, disguised himself as her ex-husband. Fortunately for Reeves, it was immediately dismissed, says The Star.

Even some of his characters have been at the heart of lawsuits. Reeves lent his voice to "Toy Story 4's" Duke Caboom, a character the Evel Knievel estate said was deliberately created to make viewers think that Knievel was somehow associated with the film. He wasn't, and according to Bloomberg, a Nevada federal court judge ultimately dismissed the suit.

When Ted met Bill

So there's good — or rather, most excellent — news for all "Bill and Ted" fans: Yes, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are just as close off-screen as they are on.

Even though they had both started acting at a young age, they only met when they both went to audition for that most excellent adventure — and according to what they told The New York Times, they had become such good friends already that Winter said, "When they told us we both got the part, we were both like, ah, that's great you got it."

The pair were on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon when they shared that they had first bonded over their shared love of motorcycles, which they had the chance to explore during what Winter described as "the arduous 'Bill and Ted' audition gauntlet, without assuming we were actually going to be cast." Was that friendship what helped make "Bill and Ted" such an enduring phenomenon that it was revisited decades later? It definitely didn't hurt. 

When they were asked about the enduring popularity of "Bill and Ted," Winter suggested to the Times that in a sharp contrast to the era's John Hughes-esque films that skewed toward "adult-ifying kids," "Bill and Ted" worked because it "was about two really good friends. There's an authenticity to that." 

He's an avid reader of some pretty heavy stuff

"Speed" was a huge hit, and Keanu Reeves spent much of the movie shoot learning lines for another project: "Hamlet," a production that was staged at the 789-seat Manitoba Theatre Center. Why go from "Speed" to "Hamlet"? He explained — in his very typical sort of sideways explanation — to Esquire, "I'd grown up on Shakespeare."

While Reeves' turn as one of Shakespeare's most iconic characters was somewhat unfairly maligned, it turns out that heavy reading is kind of his thing.

Reeves hosted a Reddit thread where he invited participants to ask him anything, and they did — with one person wanting to know what his favorite books were. The list was long, and it started with "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "Lord of the Rings" as a child, then Fyodor Dostoyevsky as a teenager, William Gibson, and Marcel Proust. In other interviews, he talked about reading all 1.3 million words (and seven volumes) of Proust's "In Search of Lost Time," along with things like treatises from ancient Rome to Philip K. Dick, another favorite.

When asked by Esquire if he was compensating for the time he lost due to a diagnosis of dyslexia, he remained vague: "... if I had to pin it to anything, my step-grandfather worked for Encyclopedia Britannica. In my room, I would just open them up. There was a curiosity there. I really enjoyed it."

What role he would really, really like to return to play again

When Keanu Reeves headed to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2021, they got talking about how his most recent movies saw him returning to play characters he'd played before — Ted Logan, Neo, and John Wick. When Colbert asked if there was another character he'd like to revisit, Reeves hardly hesitated before saying yes — and the character in question was John Constantine.

There was a "but," though: He'd tried, and failed.

Constantine, says ScreenRant, was originally supposed to kick off a whole series. When it was released in 2005, reception was lukewarm to say the least, but the movie gained momentum — and a cult following — over the years. Reeves isn't the only one who wants a sequel, and Peter Stormare — who played Lucifer opposite Reeves' detective — had even hinted at the possibility that a sequel was coming. Aside from hints and wishes, "Constantine 2" remains little more than a wish and a dream ... but given how determined Reeves remained to see the third "Bill and Ted" movie made, maybe all hope should not be lost after all.

On doing his own stunts

Keanu Reeves is pretty famous for doing his own stunts, but the extent of his stunt work makes it worth talking about: "Death-defying" doesn't even begin to cover it. When Reeves went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2021, he was asked what the wildest thing he ever needed to do for a movie was. He responded with a rather boring "jump off a building," but when Colbert asked for more details, that's when the truth got nothing short of jaw-dropping.

The stunt was for "The Matrix Resurrections," and it wasn't just any building, it was a 46-story building. He and Carrie-Anne Moss really, honest-to-gosh jumped, and not once, but 19 times. He explained: "After the first time, you can't think of the possibilities, think of the fear. You have to block it. Not block it, but deal with it. Absorb it. And then just be there, and do. And that's what we did."

Reeves went on to confirm that yes, the stunts were a little harder to do than they had been years ago for the first "Matrix," and the recovery time was a little longer, but that he still loved doing it. And that included everything from jumping off buildings to martial arts to the trick riding he learned for "John Wick" (via People).

That's not to say that Reeves doesn't have stunt doubles, he does. Metro talked to Jeremy Fry, who was Reeves' stunt double for "John Wick." (That's him jumping the mustang sideways in "John Wick 2.") He confirmed that not only is Reeves "a giver, he is selfless, he works tirelessly," but he also confirmed, "Every good thing you've heard about him is 110% true."

Was Sad Keanu really sad?

There are a ton of famous memes out there, but one of the best is Sad Keanu. He's sitting on a park bench eating his lunch, and he looks like he's just had the worst day of his life. Anyone who doesn't want to just give him a hug — and maybe take him to get a chocolate milkshake — has no soul, but what, exactly, was going on in that picture?

Stephen Colbert wanted to know, too, and asked him when he appeared on The Late Show in 2021. After explaining, "I'm just eating a sandwich, man!" he continued: "I was thinking. I had some stuff going on. I was hungry."

Colbert also asked him why he thinks he's so meme'able, and he said that he had no idea just why there were so many Keanu Reeves memes out there — but he didn't seem to mind, breaking into a song that invited everyone to "Meme on me, when you're not strong, and I'll be your friend."

The roundabout way he wrote a book

The year after the meme of a seemingly sad Keanu Reeves went viral, Reeves published a book called "Ode to Happiness," and it's anything but. The book — which is essentially a poem written with one line on a page, accompanied by black-and-white artwork done by Alexandra Grant (pictured) — starts with, "I draw a hot sorrow bath, In my despair room."

It only gets more and more dismal from there, but according to what he told The Guardian, it had come from a place where he'd just been having fun. He'd been hanging out with a friend when he started ad-libbing, then writing about the incredibly depressing songs he was hearing on the radio. It was music of the "woe-is-me" variety, and he said, "It was so voluptuously horrible. And I just started to write on this piece of paper, because I had this image of, you know, that moment when you take that bath, you light that candle, and you're really just kind of depressed."

But Reeves says he went so overboard with the self-pity that it turned into something funny that he never intended to share with the public, just a few friends. Until, that is, Grant illustrated the book as "a private gift." But when people started wanting copies, they realized there was a market for what they called "a kind of grown-up children's book." And let's be honest: The world needs more of those.

His legendary respect for movie crews

There are all kinds of stories about A-listers being outright abusive toward cast and crew working on their films, with some even going so far as to physically assault their coworkers. Keanu Reeves is the polar opposite of that, and his respect for the cast and crews he's worked with is nothing short of legendary.

While he keeps much of his generosity quiet, some things have been leaked to the public. Outsider says that after the second and third films in "The Matrix" series, Reeves gave millions — a hefty chunk of his own salary — to crew members who weren't getting paid what he thought they were worth. After filming "The Matrix Revolutions," every member of the 800-person crew was given a pricey bottle of champagne, and those who work with him the closest tend to get extra-special gifts. The 12-person stunt team of "The Matrix Reloaded" needed to perform a wildly complicated scene where Neo fought a group of clones, and as thanks, he gave them all brand new motorcycles. And his stunt doubles on "John Wick"? They got personalized Rolexes.

It's not a stretch to say that his appreciation comes from a very genuine place. In 2021, he told The Guardian that not only did he start out as part of the crew, but that "I could start lugging ice right now. A movie is all-hands-on-deck. I love all-hands-on-deck."

He's a legit John Wick

It's no secret that there's a lot of green screens, post-production movie magic, and computer work that goes into getting most movies to look the way they do these days, and that makes it even more impressive that Keanu Reeves consistently goes not just the extra mile, but the extra 10 miles.

Chad Stahelski met Reeves when they were filming "The Matrix" — Stahelski was Reeves' stunt double. Post-"Matrix," Stahelski decided to try his hand at directing, and that film was the first "John Wick." When Esquire talked to him about the dedication Reeves showed, he shared this impressive tidbit: "When I first met him he'd had surgery, and he was doing kung-fu in this big, cold warehouse with a neck brace on. I knew he was a serious guy."

He showed just how serious he was when he went through four months of hardcore firearms training. When Taran Tactical Innovations released a video (via We Are the Mighty) of Reeves lighting up a three-gun course (which requires the shooter to take out a series of targets using a shotgun, a pistol, and a sporting rifle), the general response was one of outright shock: Reeves wasn't just a natural, he was what Stahelski described as "competitively impressive."

But, he added, that's just who he is: "If you told him to learn how to crochet, he'd go and be an expert in that. That's just what he's like."

On directing and his debut behind the camera

By the time Keanu Reeves decided to go behind the camera, he had plenty of experience on movie sets: Esquire says that by the time he directed 2013's "Man of Tai Chi," he had nearly 70 acting credits to his name. There were no doubts about how serious he was right from the beginning, deciding to shoot in film rather than digital and conducting a series of camera tests before settling on the right one.

Reeves said that he had been thinking about directing for about a decade before he finally made the leap and credited his previous work with directors like Gus Van Sant and the Wachowskis for teaching him what he needed to know in order to be confident enough to do it. He explained, "We are the sum of who we are. ... I've had the opportunity to work with so many great directors."

So, what was the hold-up? Finding the right story that needed to be told, and told his way — that was "Man of Tai Chi," which he both directed and starred in ... in true Keanu Reeves fashion. (According to Vulture, he did most of his stunts, got hurt multiple times, and put such a strain on his body that he lost several toenails — and just kept going.)

The movie was ultimately described with words like "campy," but in the end, it earned a respectable 71% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a critic consensus that called it "a solid debut for first-time director Keanu Reeves."

Stephen Colbert's questionnaire

It's easy to forget that A-listers are more than their roles or their red carpet experiences, and sometimes, there's something awesome about realizing what we all have in common with some of our favorite celebs. That's where Stephen Colbert's Questionnaire comes in: It's a series of off-the-wall questions that no one else would think to ask, with good reason — but they are entertaining. What did he learn about Keanu Reeves?

The best sandwich, he says, is one that he's really excited about, and it's a toasted peanut butter-and-honey sandwich. Should everyone be making these? Absolutely. (He also prefers apples to oranges, because of the peanut buttery possibilities that come with apples.)

Also? There's nothing he owns that he feels like he should throw away (and he's a self-confessed packrat), he's seriously creeped out by spiders, and he's asked two people for their autographs: Lou Reed and George Carlin (who he called "beautiful"). "Rollerball" is his favorite action movie, he always opts for a window seat for the view, loves the smell of a warm motorcycle engine, and while he's a dog person, "I'm starting to really like cats."

On becoming a comic book writer

Some people just have way too much talent for a single person, and that's the case with Keanu Reeves. In 2021, he was promoting yet another project — his graphic novel, "BRZRKR." The 12-issue series (with the first four issues being packaged into that first graphic novel) was drawn with Reeves as the template for the main character, a half-man, half-God laboring under a curse that forced him to commit incredibly violent actions. The project, says Collider, started with a Kickstarter campaign, and not only was that more than successful, but Netflix had already thrown their figurative hat in the ring for a series. (Yes, Reeves is set to star.)

Reeves told Polygon that the idea hadn't started with him, and he'd been approached by BOOM! Studios. They were exploring the possibility of taking some of their comics to live-action, and Reeves pitched an idea that he'd been kicking around for a while: "a character, Berserker, that kind of punches through chests, rips arms off, etc." They liked it, and when they asked him if he'd do it, he responded, "Yes, that would be neato."

While anyone who wants to know the whole story will have to read it, artist Ron Garney commented that as he was working on the book, "it's been revealing itself to me as being a metaphor for [Reeves'] whole life, actually." Reeves claimed it was simply a work of art, but it's an undoubtedly fascinating observation — and reason to read between the lines.

His relationship with Alexandra Grant sparked some interesting conversations

As a society, we're used to knowing everything there is to know about countless stars — whether we want to, or not. Keanu Reeves has managed to stay remarkably private about his personal life, so when it was confirmed that he had been dating artist Alexandra Grant for at least a few years before their relationship went public in 2019, it was a big deal.

According to Vogue, the couple has been lauded for being a pretty down-to-earth pairing — amid, of course, the charity donations and appearances at events like the LACMA Art + Film Gala. They've been spotted having dinner, sightseeing, and just sort of hanging out — which is incredibly refreshing. Still, their relationship has sparked an interesting conversation, and it's one of ageism in Hollywood. When news about their relationship broke, Vox reported that many outlets were surprised by one thing: Grant's age.

While countless media outlets shouted it from the rooftops that Reeves was dating an "age-appropriate" and sometimes "older" woman, well, what did that mean? Reeves was — in 2019 — 55 years old, and Grant was 46. It was her gray hair that got all kinds of attention, which brought up the question of why, exactly, was this even a conversation?

The entire thing was perhaps summed up by this tweet: "On one hand, I am genuinely super happy for them. On the other hand ... we're actually pausing to marvel at an older man dating someone in his age group. The bar has got to rise."

Let's talk about that weird immortality theory

Take a look at Keanu Reeves from the 1990s, and Keanu Reeves in the 2020s, and it's undeniable that he's aged really well. Add in the fact that he's still doing the same stunts that he was decades ago, and that's given rise to a weird theory. According to Cinema Blend, there's a corner of the internet that insists he's actually immortal.

They've even figured out who he was first: Charlemagne. It's also undeniable that portraits of Charlemagne bear more than a passing resemblance to Reeves, but let's also remember that Charlemagne was born in A.D. 742, and his claim to fame was ruling over the Holy Roman Empire. It's suggested that after regularly changing his identity for a good 1,000 years or so, he then made his acting debut as Paul Mounet (pictured) at the end of the 19th century. Mounet does, in fact, look strangely like Reeves, but is it enough?

Theory supporters also point to his philanthropy as "evidence" and comments like one that he made in 2003: "Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I have already made for the next few centuries."

When Jimmy Fallon confronted him about it, he admitted that there was a striking resemblance between himself and some of the historical figures he's claimed to have been. He's also told Esquire: "That's crazy!" But ... has he ever denied it?

Keanu Reeves on what happens when we die

It's just a fact of life: No one's getting any younger. When The Guardian spoke to Keanu Reeves in 2021, the changing landscape of movies was a major topic. Streaming was coming to kick the legs out of the big screen, and how did he feel about the changes that were coming with the passage of time? "Stream ['The Matrix Resurrections'] if you have to," he said.

He also talked a bit about what he'd learned about getting older, and explained it like this: "When you're young, you have a big old reel of that tape left, right? And so it appears to revolve slowly. Then, time passes, and there's less and less tape left on the reel. It spins faster. It spins faster." He went on to say that he was very, very aware of his own tape running out, and that he was continuing to push himself harder and harder because "I've wanted to get as much done as I can before that turning tape runs out."

And what does he believe happens when it does run out? Does he believe in an afterlife, a great reward, or a reincarnation? The question came up when he was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Colbert asked him what he thought happened when a person died. He thought about it for a moment and gave a heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, thought-provoking answer that could, perhaps, only come from Keanu Reeves: "I know that the ones who love us, will miss us."

Keanu Reeves just wants his private life to stay private

Everyone's heard the stories about how great a guy Keanu Reeves is, about how he'll stop to help someone who's broken down on the side of the road, or how he'll go out of his way to sign an autograph for a fan too shy to ask. But according to what he told The Guardian, he absolutely hates it when people talk about him behind his back ... and share stories about how awesome he is.

In fact, Reeves got downright bristly when asked about some of the stories, saying: "I'm pretty private, so when that stuff doesn't stay private it is not that great." Why? Is there a worry that it'll somehow seem less sincere if it gets out? "No," he told them. "Because it's private."

And that makes sense. In an interview in The Jakarta Post, Reeves was asked about his home in West Hollywood, and whether or not he could walk around and still be left in peace. "Sometimes you feel like an animal in a cage. But in Los Angeles, no one cares. There're definitely paparazzi chasing after you, but I don't go out much, I don't really do anything. I'm pretty boring."