Keanu Charles Reeves (born September 2, 1964) is a Canadian actor popularly associated with having very little range of facial or vocal emotion, but a very precise and expressive physical style of acting. But none of that really matters because he knows Kung Fu.
Has been creatively showcased in his more prominent films as The Stoic Loner who possesses tremendous powers beyond the comprehension of mortals and is out to save the world. And Ted.
Popularly believed to be dumb (most likely due to his breakout role and shyness in interviews), he is actually ridiculously well-read and contemplative. He often talks about the philosophical meaning he sees in his characters, even the silly ones. He's also famous as an incredibly Nice Guy and purportedly one of the most normal, well-adjusted people in Hollywood. How far this is based on fact, only his friends can say, but one possible translation of his first name is "The Coolness", so...
He is notable for believing that every project, no matter the subject matter, should have the highest quality cast possible and will frequently give up his upfront salary so that films can hire top-level talent that wouldn't be affordable otherwise.
He's slated to play Spike Spiegel in a live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop produced by 20th Century Fox, but the project has remained in Development Hell. He is excited for the role, after all he is a fan. Besides, check out that picture — he looks like Spike, if nothing else.
Also seems incapable of making a movie without saying "whoa" at least once. See above quotation.
He's a good comic actor, and his turns in The Gift (2000), The Watcher and Man of Tai Chi show that he has a little-utilized or recognized talent for playing very scary, creepy heavies. Despite this, Hollywood insists on casting him as Leading Man Action Hero, contributing to his reputation for a limited range. He garnered considerable if not surprising acclaim for his role in the 2012 documentary film Side by Side.
He gained minor memetic status on 4chan after they discovered his history of being one of the biggest Woobies in Hollywood. Sniff.◊ explanation Unsurprisingly, he is annoyed by the attention this has garnered him, though he's also stated that he found the meme itself funny. He also has a reputation on Reddit for the aforementioned Nice Guy status with an entire subreddit dedicated to him.
Also rumoured to be an immortal.
He frequently wagers eleventy billion dollars.
In 2013 he directed his first film, Man of Tai Chi, which received strong reviews. His next movie, the martial arts extravaganza 47 Ronin, came out on Christmas Day 2013 to very bad reviews and flopped miserably. Win some, lose some.
Most recently, he's starred in the 80's/90's style gun-crazy-vengeance flick John Wick (out October 2014) which has been released to far more favorable reviews overall. Helps that it makes full use of his aforementioned ability to play terrifying badasses.
Outside of movies, he's a bassist, most famously for the defunct band Dogstar.
Has starred in:
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and its sequel (which is almost the opposite of his roles to come, and actually showed his best range).
- I Love You to Death
- A stage production of Hamlet.
- Point Break (1991) — He actually smiles in this one!
- Freaked — uncredited and unrecognizable, he's the one playing Ortiz the Dog Boy under heavy makeup.
- The Matrix
- The Night Before
- River's Edge
- Young Again
- Chain Reaction — playing an actual emotional student after a project for Hydrogen-based powers goes horribly awry. Played opposite Morgan Freeman. (And it's not to be confused with the game show about chains of words.)
- The Remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
- The Devil's Advocate
- Johnny Mnemonic
- Street Kings
- Much Ado About Nothing — the Kenneth Branagh adaptation
- The Watcher
- The Lake House
- Hard Ball
- A Scanner Darkly
- The Gift (2000) — playing against type as a rather frightening redneck and abusive husband.
- Little Buddha — yes, he actually played Buddha. And a damn hot Buddha at that.
- My Own Private Idaho — in which he actually did a pretty good job.
- Bram Stoker's Dracula
- The Replacements (2000)
- The 1986 version of Babes in Toyland
- Man of Tai Chi — his directorial debut, in which he also plays the Big Bad
- 47 Ronin
- John Wick Franchise
- Knock Knock
- The Neon Demon
- Destination Wedding
- Adam Westing: He has so many well-known roles with Memetic Mutation that almost any of his appearances or interviews are immediately filled with a bunch of jokes and references to the Matrix or Bill and Ted.
- Badass Biker: Many of his roles have him kicking ass on a motorcycle. Also extends to real life, where he's such a massive motorcycle enthusiast that he co-founded a company that makes them.
- Chewing the Scenery: As Ted, and during the angry rants of John Wick.
- Despair Event Horizon: It is believed his stoic nature was deepened as a defense mechanism after a child conceived with his girlfriend, actress Jennifer Syme, was stillborn in December 1999. They broke up soon after, and Syme died in a drug-induced automobile accident in 2001.
- Dull Surprise: A common criticism of his acting. He really manages to make it work for him in Man of Tai Chi, where it makes his character come off as even more sociopathic, in The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), where it helps him come across as an alien emissary wearing a human suit, and most of all, in John Wick where he can turn Dull Surprise in a terrifying amount of Tranquil Fury.
- Dyeing for Your Art: Has fattened, bulked, and even shaved his head for some roles.
- He's also gone through an incredible amount of weapons training for the John Wick films, ensuring that his gunfighting skills are second-to-none in his role as the nigh-unstoppable assassin.
- Fake American: He was born in Lebanon and raised in Canada, but most of his roles are this.
- Fake Brit: In Bram Stoker's Dracula, with an inconsistent accent many reviled.
- Featureless Protagonist: Several sources have pointed out that part of the appeal of Reeves as a hero is that he provides a blank slate that's easy to project onto. His somewhat ambiguous ethnicitynote helps as well.
- Hidden Depths: Some of his performances, particularly as an abusive redneck in The Gift may show such for those who are only familiar with the style he's known for.
- I Know Karate: Somehow averted in real life even as it shows up frequently in his career.
- Nice Guy: For someone with millions of dollars to his name, he's nothing short of kind-hearted and humble. He once relinquished his seat on a subway to a total stranger, even though it meant he would have to stand up.
- One-Man Army: His characters in action movies very often play directly with this, turning his into Showy Invincible Hero with a phlegmatic poker face that methodically destroys hordes of enemies. In particular, in the second Matrix, Neo literally single-handedly kick the ass to hundreds of enemies in one fight.
- Older Than They Look: Hasn't aged much since the 90's. It's theorized that he may be an immortal.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Whenever he's supposed to do something different (British in Dracula, Southern US in Devil's Advocate) Keanu's Canadian accent will slip through at some point.
- Plays Great Ethnics: Reeves' mixed ancestry allows for this. He's mostly played Caucasians or characters of uncertain ethnicity but has played a couple of Asians as well.
- Pretty Boy: He could seldom be described as a Hunk (except perhaps in Speed) but his looks have nonetheless been admired by many. His more Asian features could also place him under Biseinen.
- Showy Invincible Hero: Neo, John Wick and Constantine are Trope Codifier of this.
- The Stoic: He tends to have quite the poker face.
- Those Two Actors: With Winona Ryder, with whom he appears in Bram Stoker's Dracula, A Scanner Darkly, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, and Destination Wedding.
- Tom Hanks Syndrome: Point Break (1991) is the first Action Movie, which he starred and the first film where he played Action Hero, while his past career was mainly composed of teenage movies and arthouse. Some critics even criticized the film because of this, fearing that with this Keanu would ruin his serious career.
- Totally Radical: As Ted in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. A very common way of parodying his later works is to have him acting like Ted from Bill and Ted rather than his usual monotone. For example, from The Spoony Experiment:Neo: Whoa! I'm, like, totally being sodomized by Big Daddy's drill! Bogus!