We all know that Keanu Reeves is one of the most popular actors in Hollywood. The star has banked numerous hits down the years – including Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Speed and The Matrix to name but a few. And he has charmed audiences as much with his good deeds off screen as his acting on it. Yet the star has long held a secret, and he revealed what it was in August 2020.
It is pretty difficult to keep anything quiet in Hollywood. It’s especially hard when you are one of the most recognizable actors on the planet. And that is surely what Reeves is after a string of movie successes dating back over three decades.
But what about that secret? Is it something about Reeves’ personal life? Well, the actor prefers his privacy and has always flown under the radar when it comes to his romances. In fact, the reclusive star was spotted with the first girlfriend he’s been known to have had in years at the LACMA Art + Film Gala red carpet in November 2019.
Reeves’ romance with Grant began during what has been a fruitful period for the star. After all, this was the year when he became “the Internet’s boyfriend” – following in the footsteps of Oscar Isaac, Timothée Chalamet and Idris Elba. Reeves appeared in stellar productions such as Toy Story 4 and the third release of the ever-popular John Wick series, too.
But when did this bona fide star get his big break? Also, how did a man born in Beirut, Lebanon, to a Hawaiian father and English mother end up in Hollywood? As it so often is with movie stars, Reeves’ journey was an unpredictable road to success.
After his mom and dad split, Reeves and his younger sister Kim went to live with the former first in New York City and then Toronto. Sadly, Reeves failed to establish a relationship with his biological dad. Yet the young man found solace in hockey and drama.
And did you know that it was Reeves’ sporting prowess that secured his first film role? Yes, he got a part in Rob Lowe’s hockey movie Youngblood – filmed in Canada where he lived at the time. And that was the inspiration for the young actor’s subsequent move to Hollywood, where so many careers have been made or else curtailed before they’ve even begun.
Fortunately for Reeves, he was one of the lucky ones. The budding actor secured a role in the 1986 movie River’s Edge, and it was his portrayal of Matt in the dark movie that grabbed the attention of critics and movie executives alike. Two years later Reeves would star in the Stephen Frears-directed Dangerous Liaisons – establishing the young man as a future Hollywood star.
From there, the roles began pouring in for the young Reeves. Over the course of the next four years he would go on to play some of his most seminal characters. These were also parts that would define him in the eyes of the watching pubic. First came the part of Theodore “Ted” Logan in the comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. And he would star as the dim-witted yet lovable adolescent on a number of occasions during this period.
Reeves reprised the role of Ted Logan in 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, and there was a TV spin-off, too. Point Break – which came out that same year – then allowed the actor to show off his capabilities as an action star. The film also gave Reeves’ one of his most enduring movie roles.
Reeves was now big time in Hollywood. Prominent parts in My Own Private Idaho, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Little Buddha followed before he landed another of his most seminal roles. Speed saw Reeves cement his action-man persona and confirmed his place among Hollywood A-list royalty. As we can see, the 1990s were a fertile time for the actor.
But the role that would perhaps define Reeves’ career more than any other came about at the end of the decade. Yes, 1999’s The Matrix saw Reeves play Neo – a character he would reprise twice more in two sequels. And it elevated the actor to box-office gold as well as unimaginable personal wealth. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Reeves secured $250 million over the course of the trilogy. Incredibly, the first movie alone also grossed over $463 million internationally.
As fate would have it, Reeves was not even originally earmarked to play the role of Neo in The Matrix. Producers had, in fact, originally targeted Will Smith. But the star of movies such as Ali and Independence Day famously turned it down in preference for Wild Wild West, which was a box office flop.
But aside from Reeves the actor is the man himself. And it is tales of his character that have only succeeded in elevating his popularity. As Libby Torres wrote for The Insider in August 2019, “In addition to being an accomplished actor, Keanu Reeves is also a really, really good person.” High praise indeed.
You may be familiar with some of the stories that recount acts of kindness on Reeves’ part. For example, there was the time when he was filmed in 2015 giving up his seat on a Brooklyn-bound train to a person with a big bag. And it’s the small gestures such as these that perhaps make Reeves so endearing.
Then there was the time that Reeves bought an ice cream just so he could sign his autograph on the receipt for a fan. An SBNation.com producer and writer called James Dator recounted the tale – which took place when he was a teenage movie theater worker – on Twitter. He had initially failed to get the star’s signature. But Dator recalled that Reeves came back to find him and said, “‘I realized you probably wanted my autograph. So I signed this.’” The star apparently handed him a receipt which he’d signed on the back and threw the ice cream in the trash.
There have also been instances of Reeves taking a financial hit for the good of the film he is starring in. He reportedly took a large pay cut for both Matrix sequels to free up funds elsewhere. The star also gave up some of his salary so that Al Pacino could be brought in for The Devil’s Advocate. He has been known to present crew members with generous gifts, too.
So clearly Reeves is a pretty decent guy, but did you know that he’s also a philanthropist? Though unlike some celebrities who like to make a song and dance about how generous they are, the Speed star prefers to shy away from his benevolence. He told the Ladies Home Journal in 2009, “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.”
Reeves has also been known to give frank and honest replies to difficult questions posed by interviewers. For example, the actor was asked to offer his thoughts on what happens after death during an interview on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Reeves responded, “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.” Yes, it was a humble answer from a man who knows a thing or two about loss.
For Reeves has faced his fair share of tragedy. It just goes to show that even Hollywood stars are not immune to the issues that affect everyday folk. The star has always been a very private person and, unlike many fellow actors, hasn’t been seen in public with many women in the past. But in 1998 he began seeing Jennifer Syme – a production assistant who he’d met at a party.
Reeves and Syme bought a house together, and the latter soon discovered she was pregnant. Yet with an exciting family life ahead of them, their world came crashing down when their daughter – Ava Archer Syme-Reeves – was stillborn at eight months. The loss would have a huge impact on the couple’s relationship, and they ended up splitting.
In 2001 Syme attended a party at the Los Angeles home of rockstar Marilyn Manson, and she was later driven home. But she reportedly decided to return to the bash and was killed instantly after crashing her Jeep into some parked cars. Syme was later laid to rest beside her daughter in LA’s Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
Reeves has spoken poignantly about his grief at the double loss. In a 2006 interview with Parade magazine, the actor explained how “grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, ‘It’s gone, and I’m better.’ They’re wrong. When the people you love are gone, you’re alone.”
Reeves explained how he had imagined his life if events had been different. And his words should touch the hardest of hearts. The actor said, “I miss being a part of their lives and them being part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here – what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be.”
Fortunately, Reeves has managed to carry on. In his Parade interview, the star said, “I don’t want to flee from life. I know the beauty of it.” In fact, Reeves is said to have channeled his grief in his portrayal of John Wick, as the character has his own loss to contend with. He went on, “I thought it was one of the foundations of the role. I love his grief. I relate to that, and I don’t think you ever work through it.”
Yet Reeves has endured other hardships in his life. His father left the family when he was still very young, and he lost one of his best friends – actor River Phoenix – in a tragic drug overdose. Later in life, Reeves has also had to contend with his sister’s leukemia. Thankfully, the star has been able to battle on. And his successful movie career shows no signs of abating, as his legions of fans will be relieved to know.
But like the rest of us, Reeves has his share of regrets, too. And there’s one particular secret that he has been carrying around with him for some years now. Although some diligent observers may have suspected it in the past, the popular actor only recently let the cat out of the bag.
Reeves has played some killer roles down the years – not least Neo in the Matrix trilogy. But the actor barely hesitated in August 2020 when he was asked on the SiriusXM show Radio Andy to name a role he wishes he could have gone back in time to take. Reeves responded to Andy Cohen, “I always wanted to play Wolverine.”
Wolverine is, of course, one of the most beloved characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). And in terms of the silver screen, the iconic character has become indelibly linked to Australian actor Hugh Jackman, who played the role for 17 years. In that period, the star featured as the iconic Marvel character no fewer than ten times.
Jackman played Wolverine as a leading man in four X-Men movies. He took cameos in three more, while the actor also filled the part in three Wolverine spin-off films in the form of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine and Logan. Clearly, it has very much become Jackman’s signature role.
And Jackman has previously talked about how attached he has become to the character of Wolverine. After starring as the character for the last time in 2017’s Logan, the actor spoke to Fox News about saying goodbye to the role. Jackman said, “I don’t think I could have made [Logan] if I hadn’t made the choice that it was my last time.”
Jackman went on, “When you play a character for 17 years, and I knew in my heart this was the right time [to stop], then instantly I was very excited about what we could do but also very protective.” And we can only wonder what Jackman would make of Reeves coveting his role.
It’s hard to imagine anyone else other than Jackman taking on the part of Wolverine. Scott Mendelson wrote in Forbes in July 2020, “He is Wolverine as much as Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones (and Han Solo) or Bruce Willis is John McClane.” But Reeves rather missed the boat on that one, as he admitted to Andy Cohen. The actor said, “It is too late. I’m all good with it now.”
Rather ironically, Reeves has actually been approached on several occasions to play a Marvel character on the big screen. And that’s not just rumor. None other than Kevin Feige – the influential president of Marvel Studios – admitted as such. He has been specifically asked about Reeves in the past, and the big-wig was pretty conclusive in his answers.
Yes, Feige didn’t hold back when he was asked about whether Marvel was looking to recruit Reeves for future projects. He told ComicBook.com in June 2019, “We talk to him for almost every film we make. I don’t know when, if, or ever he’ll join the MCU. But we very much want to figure out the right way to do it.”
With Feige actively pursuing Reeves for a future role in the MCU, who knows what the future may bring. And the latter’s Bill and Ted co-star Alex Winter has his own thoughts on whether Reeves will don Wolverine’s famous claws at some stage. In the same Radio Andy interview alongside the Speed star, Winter said, “It’s not too late for [him] to play Wolverine. I’m just going to leave that there.”
Reeves has form for playing a comic book character, too. In 2005 the actor starred in Constantine – based on the DC Comics’ anti-hero of the same name. Yet Reeves might struggle to find time to join the superhero universe. After all, he’s preparing himself for a fourth Matrix movie and two more instalments of the incredibly popular John Wick franchise.
Despite the role that passed him by, Reeves is still an incredibly successful and beloved Hollywood star. But in his personal life, the star has also expressed ambitions that he is yet to achieve. He told Parade back in 2006, “I want to get married. I want to have kids.” Unusually for a man with so many admirers, Reeves has not been pictured with many women who could be identified as possible love interests in more recent years.
But things may have changed for the popular actor. Romance appears to have come knocking in the form of Alexandra Grant – an artist who Reeves has collaborated with for some time. The two set tongues wagging when they were spotted together holding hands in November 2019 at the LACMA Art + Film Gala red carpet.
The romance that has developed between Reeves and Grant is wonderful news for a star who has seemingly been alone for so long. And while he may be “the Internet’s boyfriend,” no one could begrudge him a real-life partner. For if anyone deserves happiness alongside career success, it is the generous soul that is Keanu Reeves.