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Keanu Reeves - Biography

The Hollywood actor best known for his roles in The Matrix and John Wick franchises was born September 2, 1964

Keanu Reeves smiling on stage
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Keanu Charles Reeves was born on September 2, 1964, in Beirut, Lebanon. The Canadian actor is best known for his roles as Neo in The Matrix and as the titular assassin of the John Wick action film series. His breakthrough role came from the 1989 science-fiction comedy film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Early life

Keanu's parents, Samuel Nowlin Reeves, a geologist, and Patricia, an entertainer, separated when he was three years old. He and his mum moved to New York before settling in Toronto. After his father left his family, Keanu and his dad had no relationship.

Never a particularly keen student, Keanu – which means "cool breeze over the mountains" in Hawaiian – attended four high schools before abandoning academic life for good. After scoring a part in the Rob Lowe classic hockey flick Youngblood he headed for LA in search of glitzier pastures. 

Hollywood success

In 1988, Keanu dazzled opposite Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Close and John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons, but confounded critics and audiences alike the following year by starring as one half of the dim-witted duo in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. However, the film was a hit, as was its inevitable sequel, and Keanu began alternating between big budget Hollywood flicks like Bram Stoker's Dracula and offbeat fare such as Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha from then on.

The heart-throb remained a fixture at the MTV Awards, but elsewhere his work was failing to generate much excitement. All that changed with the groundbreaking special-effects romp The Matrix, however. The film grossed $171 million in the US alone and, with two Matrix sequels in the can, Keanu's Tinseltown cachet not to mention his bottom line seemed secure. He earned $30 million, plus a percentage of franchise profits, with the second instalment, The Matrix Reloaded, much of which the generous star gave away to the special effects team. 

In 2014, Keanu's career experience a resurgence after he stared in the box-office and critical success John Wick, for which he worked closely developing the story with it's screenwriter Derek Kolstad. The previously box-office bomb haunted actor then went on to star in the film's many successful sequels.

LA base

After maintaining no permanent residence for most of his early adult life, for years the closest thing to a home for Keanu was LA's Chateau Marmont hotel in 2003. But following the success of the Matrix films, the enigmatic actor finally invested in a modernist estate in the Hollywood Hills. He is frequently away on tour, however, with his band Dogstar, whose following of screaming fans may have something to do with their movie star bassist. 

Personal life

Keanu prefers to keep the details of his dating life private, however The Matrix Resurrections star has been open about several relationships in the past. 

In 1998, Keanu met Jennifer Syme at a party for his band Dogstar. Sadly, in 1999, the couple were devastated when their baby was stillborn, and shortly afterwards the grieving pair parted ways. Tragedy struck again in April 2001 when Jennifer was killed in a Los Angeles car accident. She and Keanu had reportedly rekindled their romance just before her death.

In 2009, Keanu met writer and artist Alexandra Grant at a dinner party. The couple have collaborated on two books: Ode to Happiness (2011) and Shadows (2016), and went public with their relationship in late 2019.

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