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.
Previously 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 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 a 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.
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.
He's since starred in the '80s/'90s style gun-crazy-vengeance flick John Wick (2014) which has been released to far more favorable reviews overall and spawned even more successful sequels. It 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.
In 2020, Boom! Studios launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund BRZRKR, a Comic Book co-written by Keanu and Matt Kindt with art by Ron Garney about an immortal warrior who looks a lot like the man himself.
Has starred in:
- Young Again
- The 1986 version of Babes in Toyland
- The Night Before
- River's Edge
- The Prince Of Pennsylvania
- Permanent Record
- Dangerous Liaisons
- Bill & Ted
- I Love You to Death
- Point Break (1991)
- My Own Private Idaho
- Bram Stoker's Dracula
- Much Ado About Nothing — the Kenneth Branagh adaptation
- Little Buddha
- A stage production of Hamlet.
- Johnny Mnemonic
- A Walk In The Clouds
- Chain Reaction — (Not to be confused with the game show about chains of words.)
- The Devil's Advocate
- The Matrix
- The Replacements (2000)
- The Watcher
- Hard Ball
- The Gift (2000) —
- Something's Gotta Give
- The Lake House
- A Scanner Darkly
- Street Kings
- The Remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
- Man of Tai Chi — h
- 47 Ronin
- John Wick
- Knock Knock
- The Neon Demon
- Destination Wedding
- Always Be My Maybe
- Toy Story 4
- Cyberpunk 2077
- The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run - as Sage
Keanu Reeves' works provide examples of the following tropes:
- 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. It may not be coincidental that he co-owns a custom-build motorbike company.
- Chewing the Scenery: As Ted, and during the angry rants of John Wick.
- Dark Is Not Evil: In his most famous roles, he's almost always wearing dark colored clothing. Of course, most of these iconic roles are ultimately heroic.
- 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 into 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.
- Guttural Growler: He sports a very deep and harsh voice for his role as Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077.
- 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.
- Keanu spent some time in college as a hockey goaltender and even considered playing professionally before an injury led him to acting instead. Fans of both Keanu and hockey say being a goalie explains a lot about him. (Goalies have a reputation for being...a little kooky.)
- Hollywood Hype Machine: He had a solid career for about a decade, but the mega-success of The Matrix placed a spotlight on his limited acting style. He never completely stopped working, but the dominate conversation for just about any movie he was in afterwards was Dull Surprise. It wasn't until about John Wick that public opinion started shifting more in his favor, talking more about him being a Nice Guy in real life, his exceptional physical presence, and ability to convey Tranquil Fury, peaking in 2019's "Keanussance" where his roles in John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum, Toy Story 4, Always Be My Maybe and his surprise involvement in Cyberpunk 2077 made Keanu perhaps the most widely hyped actor over 50 in Hollywood.
- I Know Karate: Somehow averted in real life even as it shows up frequently in his career.
- Meme Acknowledgment: He was a bit annoyed at first by the attention given to him by "Sad Keanu" but later found himself enjoying most of the subsequent memes about him thanks in no part to his apparent realization that a lot of these were done out of genuine affection for him. He later turned "Sad Keanu" into an Ascended Meme by including a Shout-Out to it in his comic BRZRKR.
- One-Book Author: Man of Tai Chi is the only movie he directed so far.
- 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.
- 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.
- Showy Invincible Hero: Neo, John Wick and Constantine are Trope Codifier of this.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Is 6'1" tall, slim, dark-haired and young-looking for his age.
- 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 in 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!