PRIMER: Keanu Reeves

August 21st, 2012, by

Photo courtesy: Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.

Airdate | Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hometown | Born in Beirut, Lebanon

Why You (Should) Know Him

  • He garnered cult fame through the Bill & Ted film franchise with his portrayal of Theodore “Ted” Logan.
  • The science fiction action films of The Matrix trilogy featured him as computer hacker Neo.

Why He’s Buzzing | Reeves narrates and produces Side by Side, a documentary that analyzes the past and future of filmmaking. He’s also making his directorial debut with Man of Tai Chi, slated for 2013.


  • While direct translations vary, his name Reeves was from his uncle, Henry Keanu Reeves. The name “Keanu” is a derivation from the name Keaweaheulu (his great-great uncle), which loosely means “the soft breeze raising” or “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian.
  • Upon first arriving in Hollywood, Reeves’ agent thought the name “Keanu” might be too exotic. This resulted in his early credits as K.C. Reeves, Norman Kreeves or Chuck Spadina.
  • According to his IMDB profile, Reeves was not an avid high school student, but compensated for it with his skills on the ice rink. He played the position of goalie for his ice hockey team and earned the nickname “The Wall.”
  • In the 1989 auditions for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Reeves and Alex Winter were paired up—Winter auditioned for the role of Ted and Reeves for the role of Bill. Each actor was cast, but in the opposite part for which they auditioned.
  • The Simpsons character Jimbo Jones is based on the character, Ted, from the Bill & Ted franchise.
  • In October 1997, he ranked #23 of “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All time” in UK’s Empire magazine.
  • He deferred a portion of his salary for The Devil’s Advocate to ensure that Al Pacino would be cast, which he did again for The Replacements to cast Gene Hackman.
  • He reportedly learned over 200 martial arts moves in his training for 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded.

Selection of Honors/Awards

1986   Youngblood
1986   River’s Edge
1988   Dangerous Liaisons
1989   Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
1991   Point Break
1992   Bram Stoker’s Dracula
1994   Speed (nominated for MTV Movie Awards for Best Kiss, Best Male Performance and Most Desirable Male; nominated for Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Movie Actor; won MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen duo with Sandra Bullock)
1995   Johnny Mnemonic
1997   The Devil’s Advocate
1999   The Matrix
2000   The Replacements
2001   Sweet November
2003   The Matrix Reloaded (nominated for MTV Movie Award for Best Fight and Best Kiss)
2003   The Matrix Revolutions
2005   Constantine
2006   The Lake House
2010   Henry’s Crime
2013   47 Ronin
2013   Man of Tai Chi

Last modified: August 21, 2012 at 10:13 am