Every star out there on the pompous and highly celebrated galaxy has bevy of fans and critics alike. Some continue to get extensive mileage as the big daddy’s of the box office weekends, some get painted amidst a cacophony of illusions as great icons of the big screen and some are berated and trashed and left to fend for themselves with deliverance of a single mishit that falls way down the bull’s eye on the Hollywood cash register.
If you actually examine the life and journey of some of Hollywood’s stars in the past two decades, you would come to draw a line that emphasizes many journey’s that began with the tumultuous eighties, the glamorous nineties and went both uphill and downhill with the largely action-packed, beefy sci-fi and technology driven era of making movies from 2005 onward to the present day. In this pulsating sojourn, we have seen the likes of Mathew Broderick being subjected to trash cans and becoming more of a forgotten celeb from the yesteryears. The likes of Jim Carrey and Mark Walberg are often seen in a movie or at max 2 if they are lucky to be starring in the same in a year. What became of Russell Crowe, the kiwi born “Gladiator” who won an oscar and starred in many movies in 2000’s is stuff of classic Hollywood reverse counting. Other mainstream actors who are leading a fizzled or ‘blink and you miss’ existence include the likes of Matt Damon, Will Smith, Hugh Grant, Geoffery Dean Morgan, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.
One could well dissuade the traditionalist view that augurs for the belief that you need more than just good looks but luck to survive and beat the blues of Hollywood’s hefty cocktail. To a great extent, both the Tom’s; Hanks and Cruise are smooth sailing on the box office right from their era of dominance in the eighties, peaking right through the nineties and consistently delivering mega blockbusters well into the 2000s. They are still here and continue to impress and sway fans to the tunes of their versatile acting prowess. But, then when you come to think of all the above mentioned stars and include to that highly “been there and gone” sort of list, you may well also include the likes of Mel Gibson, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, John Cusack and Michael Douglas who one rarely gets to see painting the screen with their prominence nowadays. If you break away from these two flag-points, one that includes Hanks and Cruise who are dominant to the very day and the others who are rather castaways of the celluloid screen and suddenly, shift your focus to a certain Keanu Reeves, who turns 52 today, things appear to be less hazy, more intense and flawlessly fresh.
Reeves, who began his big screen journey way back in 1988, first striking it big with Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure, has starred in as many movies as his age. Part-mythical, part-legend but purely exciting, endearing and enthralling for constructing a giant and largely silently glowing legacy during his two decades of being in Hollywood, Keanu’s potent power in Hollywood has swept women off their feet, earned the praise and love of the youth, inspired a lot of youngsters to take to martial arts for his majestic moves in The Matrix and to this very day continues to be regarded as a suave stylist for his appearance, both on and off the screen. With a certain penetrating intensity in his eyes and a dash of candid albeit nonchalant charm in his personality, it seems Reeves who has starred in mega box office hits such as Speed, My Own Private Idaho, The Lake House, Sweet November, The Devil’s Advocate, A Walk in the Clouds and the more recent hits such as Henry’s Crime, Man of Tai Chi and his last release John Wayne- remains unfazed by all the adulation coming his way.
Unmoved by the criticism and supreme longevity of his career
For fans who are little strangers to this good looking bloke who seemingly looks anything but 51 as his age chart suggests, there is more to Keanu that meets the eye. In a career that has figuratively starred over 18 years, Keanu has come and done what the others, i.e., his contemporaries have quite miserably failed to do- hold themselves against the tectonic shifts in a constantly changing face of Hollywood.
While on one hand we have the Gibson’s, Carrey’s, Broderick’s, Washington’s and the Cusack’s often appearing in newspapers for their off screen exploits rather than starring in main-screen releases, Keanu Reeves has quite naturally held on to one end of the Hollywood spectrum in a career that despite a few jolts seems to be rock-steady amidst the transformational world of Hollywood that on the present day rests more on the actresses’ and technological sky dives into sci-fi and other parallel fictions in a bid to keep a grip on its life.
Keanu, who many call the ageless wonder has carved a special niche for himself starring in a wide variety of roles that both exploited, affirmed, reaffirmed and catapulted the talent in his brain, veins, muscle and personality by giving him a memorable career and presenting fans with a man who refuses to be caste out despite a long relationship with many a trouble.
From playing the starry eyed ace cop Jack Traven who rescued all passengers on board of the 2525 troubled bus lit with a bomb in Speed to being the soft ball coach in Hard Ball(2001), to the enchanting lover in The Lake House(with Sandra Bullock, 2005), to romancing the difficult and volatile Sarah – (Charlize Theron 2002) in Sweet November to playing a range of roles in The Devil’s Advocate (with Al Pacino), Something’s Gotta Give( Rachel McAdams and Jack Nicholson) and the more recent Henry’s Crime (2013, with Vera Farmiga)- Keanu has way more energy left in his ageless soul for his detractors to contend with.
A life led with silent resolve amidst tragedies
It isn’t possible for fans and admirers to believe that their beloved Keanu has had a smooth sailing in his two decade journey at the box office. From an early age, Reeves, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1964, September 2 was made to travel around the world going from Lebanon to Canada and ultimately despite not possessing a house till date in the United States, settled at the popular Chateau Marmont Hotel at the sunset boulevard in California. His parents divorced when Reeves was still reading sci-fi comic books growing up in Montreal and Toronto in Canada. Young Reeves, who was a natural at Ice Hockey and was dubbed “The Wall” for his impregnable goalkeeping defense was made to do odd jobs to fend for a largely broken family.
What most of us following Reeves’ on screen charisma and clean hearted acts and his simplicity off it would unfailingly notice is that behind the silence of those deep eyes, lies a saga of pain, emotion, suffering and loneliness, something that has caught our attention towards Reeves un-materialistic ways of acting.
Keanu has loved and lost many in his life who have left him a broken but an undefeated man. He first parted ways with his parents when he drove off in his Volvo V60 from Canada to California in a bid to break free, whilst only carrying a handful of money. He lost his loving sister who went down fighting an arduous battle with Leukemia. Reeves was always at his sister’s bedside when she breathed her last. His famous friendship with another enigmatic actor River Phoenix, who was celeb, activist, singer, poet and human rights campaigner all rolled into one was cut short following the actor’s tragic passing outside the nightclub Viper Room, way back in 1993. If this wasn’t enough to break Keanu down, he further lost the only sign of real life love that was painfully short as the duration of his 2 hour movies that run on screen.
With the passing of live-in girlfriend Jennifer Syme, also an actress who died in a fatal car crash in her Cherokee Jeep which collided with a tree at high speed, Keanu was left a lonely man. It turns out, she was on cocaine and was even several months pregnant.
To this day, one often bumps into this sad looking loner in the busy New York subway stations. The same man is even found rolling a cigarette and eating a sandwich all by himself on a garden bench. Keanu, who is rumored not be owning a house or a single car, loves to be by himself and is often known to travel to Europe, meeting friends in far off destinations such as Romania and Paris, France along with a bike entourage of about forty. The Matrix star who has romanced Sandra Bullock, Monica Bellucci and Carrie Anne Moss and many more remains isolated and often in a self induced state of inactivity and can be seen happiest riding his vast bike collection, such as the Norton and Ducati speedsters.
What we don’t know about Keanu Reeves
The star of over 50 commercial movies and one who was even part of a rock band at one stage, where he played Bass guitar for a group called Dogstar, currently remains busy self designing and engineering bikes, having started his own bike making firm as of last year. With the inception of Arch Motorcycle company, Keanu personally launched and gave many number of KRGT-1 bikes as gifts to his co-stars and many film- crew friends. He is the first actor to star in a Japanese martial arts drama and the only mega screen star after Cruise to film an entire movie in Japan for over two years. With Man of Tai Chi, a box office failure, Reeves successfully left an imprint of great action packed thriller on screen. With John Wick, where he played a retired assassin who is compelled to roll up some gun slingers down his sleeves with his wife’s murder, he practiced with real guns. Few actors have volunteered for a pay cut to accommodate big screen idols such as Al Pacino (The Devil’s advocate) and Gene Hackman (The Replacements).
Many forget, in the 1993 movie based on the life of the enlightened one it was the romantic and action star Keanu Reeves who forged a sacred, pious and sanctimonious alliance with this testing character. One may think that Keanu used his inner turmoil and pain to carve the legendary monk-like quality to his on-screen portrayal of Gautam Buddh. He was here in India and he left filming a movie he holds closest to his heart way back in the early nineties. With Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, Keanu successfully orchestrated a lost, aimless and happy go lucky youth who in the soul stirring friendship with his fellow petty thief and gay hustler, the late River Phoenix biked his way to despair, sadness and ultimately rejuvenation.
In a career that refuses to age or bow down to many young and fellow actors, Keanu has concertedly made a name for himself as a simple common man’s actor whose brilliant diverse roles have struck a chord with movie going audiences worldwide, conveying that he perhaps remains on this sacred inner journey where through the veil of acting, he may be hiding inner demons, or if truth be told, rising above monsters of his past. In every which way, it is our victory in seeing Keanu do what he does best; talking through those eyes.