Keanu Reeves is a fascinating character. He is intensely private. He has played a number of iconic film roles (think Ted in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” Jack in “Speed,” and Neo in “The Matrix”). He is also extremely, extremely generous.
The actor, 54, was once photographed sitting on a sidewalk, sharing food with a member of Los Angeles’s homeless community. And no, it wasn’t a publicity stunt; it was just two men sitting together eating lunch. Reeves is not your average Hollywood movie star.
Reeves was born in 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon. His father was a Hawaiian-American geologist who abandoned his young family when Reeves was only 3 years old. He was later incarcerated for selling heroin at Hilo International Airport. Reeves’s mother, an English costume designer, remarried several times. Stability was a foreign concept to the adolescent Reeves, who dropped out of high school before he graduated. He had already set his sights on acting.
Bulletproof. Keanu Reeves is back in #JohnWick2 – Hitting theaters February 10, 2017.
Reeves moved to LA and was quickly cast as Matt in the 1986 independent crime film “River’s Edge.” Proving his acting chops, Reeves has worked consistently ever since. The actor possesses a unique quality amongst the myriad caricatures in the Hollywood movie business: he is intensely likeable, both on and off the screen. And while having always shied away from the spotlight in his private life, Reeves’s generous spirit speaks for itself.
Reeves has donated millions of dollars to charity, often anonymously. Over the years, he has supported PETA, the SickKids Foundation, and Stand Up To Cancer, a charity particularly close to his heart as his sister has leukemia. Reeves has invested more than $5 million to help her fight the disease.
But Reeves’s most impactful display of generosity occurred behind the scenes of the “Matrix” sequels. While negotiating his back-end deal, Reeves insisted upon recognizing the films’ special effects and costume design teams, the “true heroes” of the movies. The “Matrix” franchise grossed over US$1.2 billion at the worldwide box office; Reeves’s share was an estimated US$75 million, and reportedly, he gave most of it away.
Each member of the special effects and costume design teams received over US$1 million each. And as if that wasn’t enough, Reeves also gifted a Harley Davidson to every member of the stunt team.
The empathic actor was also touched by learning that a “Matrix” crew member’s family was experiencing financial strife around the holidays. “Keanu heard about family trouble he was having,” said the personal account on Reddit, “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,” the post continued. “He would say hello and mean it, and would talk to people as if they were his peers.”
Reeves also prizes his acting credentials over his bank balance. He once turned down the opportunity to star alongside Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in 1995’s blockbusting crime drama “Heat” in order to act in a small town production of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” at the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg, Canada. Many actors would forever regret the missed opportunity, but not Reeves. His personal integrity is priceless.
Reeves opened up to Hello! magazine back in 2003, revealing his priorities: “Money is the last thing I think about,” he said. “I could live on what I have already made for the next few centuries.”
To resist being seduced by the Hollywood dollar sign after three decades in the industry is no mean feat. Keanu Reeves, you are truly a king amongst men.
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