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Keanu Reeves – A True Story of Tragedy and Heartbreak


Over the last several years you may have seen a meme going around the internet with a photo of a ‘Sad Keanu’. You probably had a good laugh at the actor’s expense, because he was captured looking sad and lonely on a bench.

You may have noticed that Keanu looks sad most of the time, but I have nothing but respect for this guy.

“Sad Keanu”

Do you know why I respect Keanu Reeves so much? It’s not because I love Speed, Point Break or The Matrix, even though I enjoy all of them, and it’s not because the guy is 50, and looks like he’s not aged a day in 30 years!

It’s because I took a bit of time to research the life and background of this Hollywood star and I was astonished at what I found. Keanu’s life is highlighted by endless tragedy, and it’s tough not to respect his courage once you follow his journey and all he has been through.

Down to Earth Guy

Some celebrities let fame go to their head. They walk around with their entourage making stupid demands, splash their cash, look down on us common folks, treat their staff like s*#t and still demand respect, but not Keanu Reeves!

Keanu doesn’t have bodyguards or push people around for his demands. No, Keanu catches public transport, he sits on park benches, talks to strangers and even spends time with homeless people. He didn’t even own his own home until recent years.

Keanu with a homeless guy

He is the most down to earth guy you could ever meet and is unbelievably generous, but these acts often get overshadowed or are never mentioned at all.

Keanu waiting for his own party

He waited 20 minutes in the rain and was late for his own wrap party because of a simple mix up. Did he make a scene or complain? No.

On his birthday he went to a simple cake shop and ordered a cake, and if people approached him he would chat and share his cake with them.

Keanu showing a plush toy the view from the plane

When one person asked “Why are you sad?” he replied ‘You need to be happy to live, I don’t.”

Keanu on a subway

His movies have grossed over $5 billion, but he doesn’t even want the money! When making The Devil’s Advocate, Reeves agreed to take a big pay cut of a few million dollars (a few million dollars!) so the producers could also afford to bring in Al Pacino.

He was so impressed with the special effects team on The Matrix that he donated $100 million to them. He also gave all the stunt team Harley Davidson’s and a set builder $20,000 for Christmas when Keanu heard he was on hard times.

Keanu speaking to a fan

Early Life

Keanu was born in Beirut, Lebanon, the son of Patricia Bond (née Taylor), a costume designer and performer from Essex, England and Samuel Nowlin Reeves, Jr. His mother is English while his father, who is a Hawaiian-born American, has Native Hawaiian, Chinese, and Portuguese ancestry.

Keanu’s father abandoned his family when Keanu was 3 years old, and later was imprisoned in Hawaii for selling heroin at Hilo International Airport. They last met on the island of Kauai when Keanu was just 13.

With his father coming in and out of his life, it was a time of uncertainty and heartbreak for Keanu.

“Jesus, man. No, the story with me and my dad’s pretty heavy. It’s full of pain and woe and f*#king loss and all that s#*t.”

Keanu moved around the world frequently as a child with his mother and sister Kim, where he lived with various stepfathers. Moving to Australia, New York and then ended up in Toronto. He attended four high schools in just five years, including one of them where he got expelled.

It’s pretty hard going too when your educational development is challenged by dyslexia. He later dropped out and did not obtain a high school diploma.

Keanu on subway


In the ’80s Keanu’s acting career had well and truly taken off with films like Youngblood, River’s Edge, Parenthood, Dangerous Liaisons and of course, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

He became best friends with River Phoenix and they starred in two movies alongside each other, 1990’s I Love You To Death and then a year later in My Own Private Idaho.

Tragedy & Heartbreak…

While working on Speed, Keanu received the tragic news that River Phoenix had overdosed on a lethal concoction of Cocaine, Morphine and Valium outside Johnny Depp’s LA club – The Viper Rooms.

Keanu has never really talked about his friend’s death in public, but it’s clear that it has affected him enormously.

A close friend of Keanu said “Friends know not to go there with him.”

Keanu eating on steps

Later in the ’90s after starring in one of the biggest movies of the decade and biggest film franchises in Hollywood, The Matrix, tragedy once again struck for Keanu.

Keanu and his partner Jennifer Syme were expecting their first child, when in December 1999 daughter Ava Archer Syme-Reeves was stillborn.

Then in April 2001, Jennifer was killed in a car accident after she had passed out at the wheel and overturned her vehicle. She was killed instantly.

Keanu 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.”

Keanu just blending in

After this tragedy, Keanu would stay single and lived in hotels for years living a pretty nomadic lifestyle.

With all this going on, Keanu’s sister fell ill with Leukemia, but fortunately, she is now in remission but still continues to fight the disease today. To this day, Keanu has donated over 70% of his earnings to the hospitals that treat leukaemia.

… Reeves still stays quiet about these tragedies in his life.

So if anyone has a reason for looking sad, then Keanu does. Respect Mr. Reeves!

Respect Keanu!

Written by Jay

A caffeine-based life form with a love of the 80s and pop culture.


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