We’re all familiar with Bullet Time Keanu, bodacious Bill and Ted-era Keanu, and, of course, Sad Keanu—one of the internet’s best-loved memes. But there’s another side to the Canadian star that you might not know about.
Allow us to introduce you to one of the kindest people in Hollywood: Mr. Keanu Reeves.
The notoriously private actor hasn’t had the easiest life (mega-fame and million-dollar paycheques aside). Raised in Toronto by a single mother and various relatives, Keanu bounced between four different high schools, never earning a diploma. His close friend, River Phoenix, died of a drug overdose when they were in their early 20s. He and girlfriend Jennifer Syme lost a baby when Syme was eight months pregnant. Less than two years later, Syme died in a car crash. Did all of that tragedy turn Reeves into a misanthropic monster? Nope, he’s the furthest thing from it. Here’s proof:
Keanu’s tastes are simple. He cares not for the almighty dollar.
In a 2003 interview, the actor was quoted as saying “Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I have already made for the next few centuries.” Pretty words, but is Keanu all talk? Not according to one Redditor:
“A family friend builds movie sets, doesn’t design, is one of the poor dudes that just builds. Anyways he worked on the set for The Matrix and Keanu heard about family trouble he was having and gave him a $20,000 Christmas bonus to help him out. He also was one of the only people on the set that genuinely wanted to know people’s names, would say hello and mean it, and would talk to people as if they were his peers and not below him just because they were practically making nothing to build a set.”
But seriously, he really, really doesn’t care.
Reeves is reported to have taken an $80-million-sized chunk out of his $114 million Matrix trilogy paycheque and handed it over to the makeup and effects team for their hard work on the films.
The guy takes the subway
A clear sign he cares about the environment, public transportation, and humankind in general.
No manspreading here. Reeves even offers up his spot to a fellow commuter who isn’t pregnant, elderly, and/or missing a limb (the only criteria that’ll get you a seat on during rush hour).
He’ll make you feel good about your fashion choices.
From a clothes-conscious Reddit user: “I once saw Keanu Reeves at a party in L.A….he was walking past me and I said, “Hi, my name is Steven,” and he said, ‘Nice to meet you Steven, I’m Keanu, I like your jacket.’ That was an awesome night.” Go ahead, Steven. Pop your collar.
He didn’t ditch his regular friends for famous friends.
Here’s Reeves talking about his not-famous pals during his Reddit AMA last year: “I saw some guys at a gas station once who had hockey equipment in their car, and I asked them what they were doing, and they said they were playing street hockey, so I asked them if I could play. So I became involved in a street hockey game that took place every weekend for over 10 years, every weekend, red vs. black. We would take holidays off and sometimes summers, but the game was going on for over 10 years. That was cool to be a part of.”
He laughs at your internet jokes.
On his entry into meme-dom: “My first experience with that was Sad Keanu, and I thought it was funny!” — Keanu Reeves, coolest guy on the planet.
Beware: trespass on his property and you’ll get…
…an apology? Here’s another story shared by a Redditor during Keanu’s AMA: “Hey Keanu. In 1993 I went to L.A., and on my way back from illegally visiting the Hollywood sign, I accidentally landed in your yard. Metallica was blaring on your stereo as you were fixing your Norton motorcycle. I asked you for the quickest way out to get a cab, and you pointed towards your fence. My friend and I were a little starstruck and just stood there.”
And here’s Reeves’ response: “Sorry I couldn’t give you a ride!”
He’ll make your dad’s day.
This story is from someone whose ailing father had their day brightened by Keanu: “He worked at Newark Airport for a long time and once he sat across from you on the skytrain. He said you were very gracious and kind and that when asked if there would be any more Matrix movies you responded, ‘How can there be? I kind of died in the last one.’ He loved that answer for some reason. I love my pops and thanks for making his day way back when.”
He also makes people’s entire decades without even knowing about it.
Brace yourself, this story is intense. It was shared with Keanu during his AMA, and his response is beautiful.
“When I was 12 I had a huge black-and-white poster of you. You had this contagious smile on it…That time was very difficult for us, my parents were in the middle of a divorce, easily stressed out, no time to listen and violent towards me and my little brother… When I came home from school, I used to go straight into my room, lock myself in and tell you how my day was, and what was bothering me. I used to think of you like a diary. I told you everything, my sorrows, my thoughts and you listened. Your image listened, kinda saved me from going insane… it was like going to a therapist, I think. Twenty years later, is this my chance to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Even if you did nothing. You were just there for me.”
From Keanu: “Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. And your feelings. Glad I could help in any way.”
If your eyes aren’t watering up right now, you may want to get your tear ducts checked out.
He’ll line up to get into his own party. In the rain.
The phrase “Do you know who I am?” isn’t in Reeves’ vocabulary. Unlike other big (and a few small) stars, when Keanu isn’t recognized by the person working the door, he doesn’t freak out — even if it’s his party. Last December, he stood in line outside like a civilian waiting to get into the wrap party for his latest movie, Daughter of God. Later that night, he found and returned a fellow partygoer’s credit card.
He’ll buy you (and all your coworkers) breakfast. Lunch too.
Here’s a story about working with Keanu in his pre-Matrix days: “Back in the late ’90s and fresh out of college I got my first job as an assistant prop designer on the set of Chain Reaction (Keanu was a supporting actor with Morgan Freeman). EVERY DAY for the last few weeks of filming, Keanu treated the stage hands and ‘grunt workers’ (including myself) by taking us out for free breakfast and lunch. He was genuinely a very nice guy to work with. Since then, I’ve worked on about 30 different sets and have never met an actor as generous and friendly as him.”
He’s a highway hero.
Apparently Keanu just drives around all day, doing good deeds: “A friend of mine told me that she was once stranded on the side of a highway outside L.A.,” recalls one Redditor. “She had no cell phone and no way to call for help. Then a nice black Porsche pulls over and as you can guess, it was Keanu. He tried to help her jump-start the car and when it didn’t work, he called AAA for her. When they towed her car, he offered her to drive her home, which she accepted. He drove about 50 miles out of his destination just to drive her home. She told me she hoped he would hit on her but he didn’t, he was just a gentleman.”
He graciously ignores questions about his immortality.
Everyone knows it’s rude to ask people their age. Same goes for immortality. Still, when Keanu is questioned about his widely rumoured ability to defy time by never, ever aging, he’s unfailingly polite. Asked whether or not he is immortal, Keanu replies
“No, but energy cannot be created or destroyed they say.”
All together now: Whoa!