Keanu Reeves had his breakthrough role in 1989, when he starred in the sci-fi comedy “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” Two movie sequels and two television series based on the film soon sprang forth.
The more serious side of the actor’s artistry emerged in dramas that included “My Own Private Idaho” and in action films such as “Point Break” and “Speed.”
Keanu, however, was destined for super stardom. He achieved this high watermark when he landed the role of Neo in a film that would ultimately become the “Matrix” franchise series.
In a realm that few celebrities experience, he was able to continue to sustain his fame with yet another cinematic franchise, the “John Wick” film series.
In terms of his ancestry, Keanu is the personification of diversity. His father is Native Hawaiian, Chinese, English, Irish, and Portuguese. His grandmother on his father’s side is Chinese Hawaiian, a woman who imbued a young Keanu with Chinese culture and philosophy. His mother is from Beirut, Lebanon, the place where the actor was actually born. His father left when Keanu was only three years of age, but a reunion with his dad occurred when he was thirteen. It took place on the island of Kauai.
Despite his Chinese heritage, his years of collaboration with Chinese film entities, and his mega-star status with the Chinese population, Keanu was recently severely censored by Chinese authorities for his participation in a benefit concert for Tibet House, a non-profit organization affiliated with the exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Previous entertainment figures that were canceled by communist officials for their expressions of support for Tibet include Richard Gere, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, and Brad Pitt, who was canceled and then brought back.
In a predictable development, China’s streaming platforms have now erased almost all of Keanu’s works from their catalogues as well as from search results in the Chinese language that appear under his name. His most well known movies that have been wiped away include “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Speed,” and “The Matrix” films.
Bizarrely, “Toy Story 4,” for which Keanu voiced a character, has been left online. However, the actor’s name has been purged from the credits.
Keanu’s newfound redacted status in China at a time of heightened geopolitical tension is a strong indication that Beijing censors will prohibit his upcoming projects from being distributed.
Unlike a host of other creative artists in Hollywood, Keanu appears to be the complete opposite of a self-centered celeb. Known to be a dedicated team player as well as an individual who actually safeguards his privacy, Time magazine once characterized him as “Hollywood’s ultimate introvert.”
A special part of his appeal is a humility that he exudes when the cameras aren’t rolling. He has demonstrated a genuine goodness in many a real life circumstance. The internet is replete with stories, interviews, and pictures of Keanu in virtuous action.
The first of his good deeds to go viral occurred when video footage emerged of him offering his New York subway seat to a fellow passenger who was carrying a heavy bag.
Another incident that spread like wildfire on social media was one involving a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, which was forced to make an emergency landing in Bakersfield, California. Keanu spent time reading to fellow passengers, dining with them on fast food, and entertaining them with his country music performances. He generously posed for photos with his traveling companions, took the lead in helping them deal with the stress of an emergency landing, and assisted others in getting to their destination.
Additionally, in an unusual sort of re-negotiation of a contract for the “Matrix” sequels, Keanu took a pay cut so that more money might be available for use on special effects and costumes.
After his sister Kim was diagnosed with leukemia, he reportedly gave 70 percent of his $35 million compensation for the first “Matrix” film to leukemia research.
Every stunt man in “John Wick 3” received a Harley-Davidson motorcycle courtesy of Keanu, following a difficult stunt-oriented filming session.
He told Esquire, “That fight was 17 shooting days. We trained every day for seven hours for three weeks going through all the motions. We learned the term ‘super-perfect.’ You want to go for super-perfect. So, obviously I was getting paid well. And so, you know, just as a thank you to those guys. Got them some gifts.”
After hearing that Al Pacino was not going to be a part of “The Devil’s Advocate” due to a shortfall in the movie’s budget, he took a pay cut to bring the legendary Pacino back in.
More than a billion kids around the globe have benefited from a leading children’s charity that Keanu set up.
Consistent with his low-key persona, he generally keeps his religious convictions under the vest. On one occasion, when an interviewer asked permission to inquire about his religious beliefs, he politely replied, “Please don’t. I think it’s personal and private.”
In a separate interview, when asked whether he was a spiritual person, he revealed that he is indeed very spiritual and a believer in the Almighty.
“Do I believe in God, faith, inner faith, the self, passion, and things? Yes, of course! I’m very spiritual … Supremely spiritual … Bountifully spiritual … Supremely bountiful,” he said.
When it comes to Keanu, in art and in life China’s loss is the rest of the world’s gain.