Keanu Reeves stunned the movie world when he decided to give away £50 million of his earnings from The Matrix sequels. But given his track record of generosity, perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised.
The handsome actor had already amazed the movie's 12 stuntmen by giving them each a £7,000 Harley Davidson motorcycle. He also gifted an expensive bottle of champagne to every guest at the film's wrap party.
And he saved the entire production from collapse when producers were considering scrapping it. Financial worries had put the project in doubt, but Keanu gave up his claim to a cut of ticket sales in order assuage their fears. In so doing he signed away an estimated £20 million.
It wasn't the first time he'd made big sacrifices to help a movie. On Devil's Advocate he dropped his fee by several million dollars so producers could afford to hire Al Pacino. And he made a similar gesture on the film The Replacements, cutting his fees in order to bring Gene Hackman on board.
Asked about his magnanimous spirit, Keanu says his sister's battle with leukaemia has had a profound effect on his life. "It puts everything into perspective when you face a situation like that with a loved one," he says. The 38-year-old has channelled millions into cancer research since Kim was diagnosed with the disease ten years ago.
Last year he paid £17,000 to whisk her and her friends off to Italy on holiday, and he also shelled out £450,000 on an LA home, complete with stables, to indulge her passion for horses. The selfless star didn't get around to buying a house for himself until just last month, when he splashed out on a three-bedroom property in the Hollywood hills.
His most recent act of generosity will see £50 million divided up between the unsung heroes of the Matrix trilogy – the costume and special effects departments. Each of the 29 crew members will receive £1.75 million.
Keanu's co-star Jada Pinkett-Smith said she found his benevolence "overwhelming". "I just found him inspiring and I thought his generosity was just incredible," she said after work on the trilogy was completed.
Asked about his jaw-dropping generosity, the staunch Buddhist is succinct: "Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I have already made for the next few centuries."