What Happened to Keanu Reeves: How Tragic Events in His Life Shaped Him Into the Man He Is Today

People
3 months ago

Keanu Reeves has been a Hollywood icon for over three decades and deeply beloved by millions of fans worldwide. With a string of blockbuster films under his belt, he is also one of the wealthiest actors in Hollywood, his movies grossing over 3 billion dollars at the box office. However, behind his fame and success lies a background of loneliness and personal sorrow.

He comes from humble beginnings.

Karen Bystedt/Coleman-Rayner/EAST NEWS

Keanu Reeves endured a tumultuous childhood marked by significant upheaval and loss. Born to Patricia Taylor and Samuel Reeves in Lebanon, he faced familial instability from a young age. His father abandoned the family when Keanu was only three years old.

In a rare moment of public vulnerability, the actor recounted the moment in an interview. They sat quietly on a veranda and stared at the dark sky. The next day, his father left them at the airport. Then, for the next 10 years, there was no contact whatsoever until he saw him again for one last time at 13.

Raised by his single mother, a costume designer, Reeves often had to move, which resulted in him attending four different high schools before dropping out at 17. Their nomadic lifestyle led them to reside in various places, including Hawaii, New York, Canada, and even a brief period in Australia.

Invision/Invision/East News, © Tsuni / USA / Alamy Stock Photo

Keanu isn’t an only child, though. He has three sisters—Kim Reeves, Karina Miller and Emma Reeves.

Kim was born two years after him, at around the time his parents decided to split. Eventually, the family moved to Toronto, where his mother met and married music promoter Robert Miller, with whom she had a daughter, Karina, in 1976. Keanu also has a half-sister, Emma Reeves, born in 1980, through his father.

Keanu Reeves and Kim spent much of their childhood in Toronto, where they were often looked after by nannies due to their mother’s frequent travel for work. In an interview, Kim revealed their upbringing was lonely, but that the siblings managed to adapt to their circumstances.

In 1991, their close relationship was put to the test, when Kim was diagnosed with leukemia. Keanu didn’t hesitate and took on the role of her caretaker during her 10-year battle with the disease. She said he provided unwavering support and comfort and described how he would sit with her, hold her hand, and offer solace during her most painful moments.

He hasn’t had an easy time when it comes to love either.

Invision/Invision/East News, Richard Shotwell/Invision/East News

He never married or had kids, and there are more heartbreaking tragedies that explain that.

In 1999, the year The Matrix premiered, he was expecting a baby with his then girlfriend Jennifer Syme. Unfortunately, at the 6-month mark in the pregnancy the baby, whom they named Ava, was stillborn. This devastating event strained their relationship, ultimately leading to their decision to part ways just weeks after Ava’s stillbirth.

Just two years later, as he was preparing to begin shooting The Matrix sequels, yet another heartbreaking loss occurred. As Syme was leaving a party at Marilyn Manson’s house in Los Angeles, she had a serious car accident, which turned out to be fatal. Struggling with grief and dealing with his sister Kim’s cancer diagnosis, he was forced to take time off from shooting The Matrix sequels.

While Reeves has never openly discussed the tragedy, it deeply impacted him, and he refrained from public relationships until he surprised everyone by introducing his current girlfriend to the world, on a red carpet event in 2019.

The girlfriend, Alexandra Grant, is a visual artist and although much of their relationship remains private, they won’t refrain from appearing together on red carpets. He’s looking absolutely smitten and she’s beaming.

His tough life perhaps explains why he’s such a private man.

Fine Line Features/Courtesy Everett Collection/East News, East News

In the John Wick films, fans witness a resonance between Keanu’s portrayal of the grieving character and his personal encounters with loss and love. The actor himself has acknowledged before that he infused his own life experiences into the character, emphasizing the depth of grief depicted in the role. He views grief as a one of the foundations for John Wick and relates it to his own experiences of the enduring presence of grief in one’s life.

However, Symes’ passing wasn’t either the first or only time Keanu experienced the loss of a loved one. In 1993, he faced yet another devastating tragedy when his close friend and fellow actor, River Phoenix, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 23. Keanu and River developed a strong bond while working together on the set of I Love You to Death, as they were the same age and shared similar experiences of navigating fame and early adulthood in Hollywood.

Phoenix’s untimely death deeply affected the star of John Wick, who was filming fan favorite Speed at the time. His co-star Sandra Bullock noted in a 1994 interview that he was deeply hurting, though hid it from others.

ROBYN BECK/AFP/East News, Schneider-Press/Matthias/SIPA/Sipa Press/East News

And the actor keeps hiding everything from the public regarding his personal life. Despite his long-standing success in Hollywood, he maintains a mysterious and enigmatic persona. While he fulfills his promotional duties for films and attends red carpet events with grace and professionalism, he remains elusive and prefers to keep his private matters guarded and out of the public eye.

Still, at 59 years old, he is adored by the public and has even been notably dubbed the «internet’s boyfriend» and «the most wholesome person alive.» The fans’ affection for him is such that in 2019 an online petition asking for his nomination as Time’s Person of the Year accumulated over 170,000 signatures.

Although taken aback by the attention, he acknowledges the positivity surrounding him, and particularly appreciates the embrace of his roles in movies such as John Wick and Always Be My Maybe. However, it does demonstrate both his discomfort with the limelight and his gratitude for the support.

Nevertheless, he always gives back to people.

PHOTOlink/Everett Collection/East News, LGjr-RG, PacificCoastNews/EAST NEWS

Keanu’s personal challenges seem to have instilled a profound kindness in him, that he is less than eager to share publicly. Stories of his generosity often surface from various sources online. From gifting Harley Davidsons to his entire stunt team on The Matrix to regularly providing free meals for staff during filming, his acts of kindness reflect a genuine desire to uplift those around him.

A Reddit user who worked on the set of Chain Reaction described him as a «genuinely very nice guy to work with» and «definitely kind-hearted.» Plus, he remembered him «going out of his way to give [his] friend a ride to the repair shop to pick up his car.»

But, perhaps one of the most popular stories about Keanu broke in 1997, when he was captured in a photograph sitting beside a homeless man on the side of the road. According to reports, he approached the man, engaged in conversation, shared drinks and snacks, and attentively listened to his life story.

On top of all of that, he’s also known to have quietly given away millions of dollars to several charities. So, despite enduring such emotional turmoil throughout his life, Keanu has managed to avoid the destructive paths often associated with fame, and showcased an inspiring resilience in the face of adversity. His genuine acts of kindness, combined with his humility, are what sparked the global fascination surrounding him and why he’s so deeply loved by countless people.

Veteran actor Val Kilmer also could teach the world a thing or two about resilience. After losing his voice to throat cancer, the Top Gun star never once gave up on trying to live life to the fullest, and even became more creative than ever. Read his story here!

Preview photo credit Richard Shotwell/Invision/East News, ROBYN BECK/AFP/East News, LGjr-RG, PacificCoastNews/EAST NEWS

Comments

Get notifications
Lucky you! This thread is empty,
which means you've got dibs on the first comment.
Go for it!

Related Reads