Throughout the years, Hollywood has produced a number of big action stars, all memorable in their own ways. And Keanu Reeves can certainly count himself among them, having appeared in several iconic blockbusters since his screen debut in 1984. Despite all that fame, however, the actor has managed to keep a big secret from his fans.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, in September 1964, Reeves moved around a lot as a child. In fact, he enjoyed stints in Australia, America and Canada. It was during his time at college in Toronto, though, that he discovered his first real passion: ice hockey. And Reeves was soon good enough to join the school team as its goalkeeper.
Single-mindedly, Reeves set himself an ambitious goal: he wanted to play for the Canadian national team. Reeves’ dream fell to pieces, however, when he picked up an injury, ending his hopes of pursuing a career in the sport. But despite the disappointment, the well-traveled youngster eventually found his true calling.
Indeed, Reeves made his acting debut back in 1984, appearing Canadian sitcom Hangin’ In. The young actor subsequently featured in a number of other television programs, while also landing a few small movie roles. It was in 1989, though, that Reeves finally got his big break.
Following an appearance in 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons, Reeves earned a starring role in sci-fi movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. In character as Theodore “Ted” Logan, the actor was able to showcase his comedic skills to great effect, and the movie’s success spawned a sequel two years later.
But while Reeves was clearly comfortable making audiences laugh, he would soon land a part that would change his Hollywood image forever. In 1991 Reeves starred as undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah alongside Patrick Swayze in iconic thriller Point Break. And it was at that point that a new action star was born.
Indeed, Reeves went on to take the lead in a number of other memorable action movies, including 1994 hit Speed. His progressing career reached stratospheric heights in 1999, though, when he landed the role of Neo in The Matrix. Lauded as one of the best films of the ’90s, the sci-fi flick cemented his position as a modern movie icon.
And in recent years, Reeves has continued to build on his Hollywood legacy. As the lead in the hugely popular John Wick franchise, for example, the 54-year-old has proved that he can still cut it in action movies. But the actor has also earned himself a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nice guys, with several stories cropping up about his kindness.
Some eight years ago, for instance, a reddit user named bo2dd2 shared an anecdote about the star on the website, prompting a huge response. “Back in the late ’90s and fresh out of college, I got my first job as an assistant prop designer on the set of Chain Reaction,” they wrote. “[Reeves] was a supporting actor with Morgan Freeman.”
“Every day for the last few weeks of filming, [Reeves] treated the stage hands and ‘grunt workers’ (including myself) by taking us out for free breakfast and lunch,” bo2dd2 continued. “He was genuinely a very nice guy to work with. Since then, I’ve worked on about 30 different sets and have never met an actor as generous and friendly as him.”
From there, the Reddit user continued to hail Reeves’ attitude to those working on the set and recalled another specific incident. “I remember [Reeves] going out of his way to give my friend a ride to the repair shop to pick up his car,” bo2dd2 explained. That particular thread garnered over 2,000 replies, with fellow users sharing similarly positive stories about the actor.
But it seems that there is at least one act of kindness that Reeves has managed to keep hidden from fans over the years. Back in the 1990s, you see, the star began to look after his younger sister Kim, who had been diagnosed with leukemia. Thankfully, she eventually entered remission, yet that didn’t prevent her brother from donating to several charities dedicated to cancer.
However, Reeves still felt like he could do more, so he started a foundation to help fund further research into the disease. “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,” the actor told the Ladies’ Home Journal in 2009.
“I don’t like to attach my name to it,” Reeves added. “I just let the foundation do what it does.” And in a similarly charitable vein, the Hollywood star offered his services at a telethon named Stand Up to Cancer in 2008, joining the people on the phones taking in donations.
But the star’s selflessness doesn’t end there. Several other stories, in fact, have circulated over the years that testify to his benevolent nature. Back in 1997, for example, one of Reeves’ more public acts of kindness came to light when he was spotted spending time with a homeless man in Hollywood. And it seems that the actor is just as generous with his vast wealth as he has been with his time.
For instance, Reeves reportedly bought each member of the special effects team on the set of The Matrix Reloaded a Harley-Davidson. He was also rumored to have handed over earnings estimated at up to $100 million to some of the crew working on the trilogy. One such worker shared their story with a family acquaintance, who then posted about it in the previously mentioned Reddit thread.
“A family friend builds movie sets, doesn’t design, is one of the poor dudes that just builds,” wrote Reddit user kahi. “Anyways, he worked on the set for The Matrix, and [Reeves] heard about family trouble he was having and gave him a $20,000 Christmas bonus to help him out.”
“[Reeves] also was one of the only people on the set [who] genuinely wanted to know people’s names,” kahi continued. “[He] would say hello and mean it and would talk to people as if they were his peers and not below him just because they were practically making nothing to build a set.”
With that in mind, kahi couldn’t help but agree with bo2dd2’s initial assessment of Reeves. “I’ve never heard anyone say [Reeves] is [a] douche,” they added to the Reddit thread. “[He] seems like the nicest person in Hollywood from a second-hand experience.”
John Wick: Chapter 3 is due for release in 2019, confirming that Reeves is still very much a name to be reckoned with in the movie business. Regardless of the action star’s success on screen, though, it’s his work away from the camera that has cemented his place in people’s hearts. Whether he wants to admit it or not, the 54-year-old is a real-life hero.