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Keanu’s heartbreaking life story

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He’s one of the richest actors in Hollywood, having appeared in a string of the most famous films of all time.

Yet, the private life of Keanu Reeves is one of the greatest mysteries.

Which is why his decision to bring his girlfriend with him on the red carpet for the 2019 LACMA Art and Film Gala this week created such a stir. Reeves, 55, appeared absolutely smitten as he beamed at cameras and held hands with artist Alexandra Grant, 46, in a completely uncharacteristic display.

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Alexandra Grant and Keanu Reeves attend the 2019 LACMA Art   Film Gala on November 2. Picture: Taylor Hill/Getty Images
media_cameraAlexandra Grant and Keanu Reeves attend the 2019 LACMA Art Film Gala on November 2. Picture: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Despite being a bona fide member of Tinseltown’s A-list for more than three decades, his movies grossing more than $3 billion over the years, Reeves has always been a master at keeping his cards close to his chest.

He’s not exactly been in hiding. He gives interviews to promote his latest box office blockbusters, isn’t totally absent from talk shows, and he doesn’t blank his red carpet obligations.

In fact, he’s always entirely present during his media junkets. Kind, attentive and respectful.

But somehow, he manages to dodge any opportunity to let the public in.

Every now and then, however, he puts an ace on the table, and we peel back another layer of his complex nature.

Reeves lives a low-key, private life. Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America/AFP
media_cameraReeves lives a low-key, private life. Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America/AFP

In recent years, and seemingly out of nowhere, Reeves has been embraced by the masses in a way we’ve not seen over the course of his career.

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A Change.org petition launched earlier this year is gaining momentum (with currently more than 171,000 signatures) for Reeves to be named Time’s Person of the Year in 2019, with the actor described as the “internet’s boyfriend” and “the most wholesome person alive” — something he was gobsmacked to be told.

“That’s wacky,” he told People TV. “The positivity is great. It’s really special how John Wick was embraced, and working on Always Be My Maybe, great, you know.”

A response that shows he is uncomfortable with the attention but humbled all the same.

Reeves has two big movies that have been released this year — John Wick: Chapter 3 and Toy Story 4; their high-profile releases shining a light on his troubled backstory, with many fans dubious to know how he’s managed to stay one of Hollywood’s most humble blokes.

Keanu Reeves in a scene from the movie John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Picture: Studiocanal.
media_cameraKeanu Reeves in a scene from the movie John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Picture: Studiocanal.

The proof of his down-to-earth nature is a viral photograph taken in 2010 that showed Reeves sitting alone on a New York bench eating a sandwich. This is a guy who’s said to be worth $US360 million ($A520 million).

The photo, which Reeves saw the humour in, sparked an internet meme dubbed “Sad Keanu”.

While it was all a big joke in the world of cyber space, there’s actually some tragic reasons behind why Reeves is a recluse, having never married or had kids.

In 1999, Reeves’ girlfriend Jennifer Syme gave birth to their daughter Ava, who was stillborn. The pair met a year prior at a party and fell instantly in love.

But the stillbirth took a toll on their relationship, the couple deciding to split several weeks later.

This was around the time The Matrix was released, which as we know went on to become a colossal critical and commercial success and is available to stream on Foxtel.

Carrie-Anne Moss with Keanu Reeves in scene from the The Matrix Reloaded. Picture: Supplied
media_cameraCarrie-Anne Moss with Keanu Reeves in scene from the The Matrix Reloaded. Picture: Supplied

Two years after their break-up, Syme was leaving a party at Marilyn Manson’s house in Los Angeles when she sideswiped three parked cars, rolled her vehicle and was thrown from the car, which killed her.

Reports claimed she was being treated for depression at the time, with police finding two prescription drugs in her car.

Reeves was scheduled to begin shooting back-to-back Matrix sequels but was forced to take time off after hearing the soul-crushing news. Around the same time, his sister, Kim, was diagnosed with cancer.

He hasn’t been publicly linked to a woman since Syme’s death, nor has he directly spoken about the tragedy.

Actor Keanu Reeves carrying coffin at funeral on April 7, 2001 of his partner Jennifer Syme who was killed in road accident.
media_cameraActor Keanu Reeves carrying coffin at funeral on April 7, 2001 of his partner Jennifer Syme who was killed in road accident.

Fans of John Wick films will see a parallel between his assassin character and his real-life experience, with John Wick also mourning lost love.

“With any character, the way I think about it is, you have the role on the page, you have the vision of the director and you have your life experience,” Reeves told The Guardian, adding he brought his own experience with hardship to the role.

“Oh yeah, I thought it was one of the foundations of the role for John Wick. I love his grief.

“For the character and in life, it’s about the love of the person you’re grieving for, and any time you can keep company with that fire, it is warm. I absolutely relate to that, and I don’t think you ever work through it. Grief and loss, those are things that don’t ever go away. They stay with you.”

It wasn’t the only time Reeves lost a loved one. In 1993, fellow actor River Phoenix, Reeves’ best friend, died of a drug overdose at the age of 23 outside a nightclub in LA.

The pair met and bonded on the set of I Love You To Death in 1990 and hatched up a special friendship, as they were both the same age and navigating early life in a lucrative and high-profile world.

The following year, they appeared together again in the cult classic My Own Private Idaho.

Phoenix died while Reeves was filming Speed with Sandra Bullock, who spoke of the incident a year later.

“I think that he has gone through a lot even though he doesn’t let on about it,” Bullock told Télé 7 Jours in 1994. “I think he hides a great pain.”

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in 1994 film Speed.
media_cameraKeanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in 1994 film Speed.

Reeves also suffered immense pain in his childhood.

He was born in Lebanon to Patricia Taylor and Samuel Reeves and attended four high schools before dropping out when he was 17.

His father walked out on the family when Reeves was only three years old, forcing his single mother to move the family around and raise them in different countries — Hawaii, New York, Canada and even a short stint in Australia.

The last time Reeves saw his father was at the age of 13. In an extremely rare interview, Reeves stated in 2002: “On our last day we sat on the veranda and stared at the dark sky. He hardly said anything that evening. The next day he brought us to the airport. Then we didn’t hear anything from him for 10 years. No calls, no letters, nothing.”

Despite significant tragedy, Reeves hasn’t gone down the dark path we see many famous celebrities wander down.

His hardships have made him kinder. And not in a showy way, in the most low-key way.

We find out about his generosity from random workers on his movie sets and Reddit threads.

He gave the entire stunt team on the Matrix Harley Davidsons so they could all enjoy riding what he calls the “demon ride” as much as he did.

Reddit user bo2dd2 said Reeves bought him and several other workers breakfast and lunch everyday during filming of Chain Reaction.

“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,” the post read.

“Since then, I’ve worked on about 30 different sets and have never met an actor as generous and friendly as him. Most actors I’ve seen and worked with are total douches who always think they are better than us. Keanu on the other hand, at the very least, was socially approachable and definitely kind-hearted.

“That was one example, but (on the same set), I remember him going out of his way to give my friend a ride to the repair shop to pick up his car …”

Reeves as Eddie Kasalivich in Chain Reaction.
media_cameraReeves as Eddie Kasalivich in Chain Reaction.

One of the most famous stories about Reeves broke in 1997 when he was photographed sitting on the side of the road with a homeless man.

The word was Reeves approached him, sat with him, shared drinks and snacks and listened to his life story.

He has sacrificed millions of dollars from his own salaries to save at-risk jobs on several of his movies, with some reports claiming he has given up as much as $125 million so people could stay employed.

Reeves reportedly waited in pouring rain in a nightclub line at his own wrap party for Daughter of God because he didn’t want to drop his name at the door.

“I didn’t know who he was, he kept waiting, and he didn’t say anything to me! He’s a very relaxed person,” the unidentified owner of the club told the Daily Mail at the time.

This is just a handful of his candid moments. Earlier this year, Reeves told an entire crowd they were “breathtaking”, and back in 2011 he was filmed offering his seat to a fellow passenger on a New York subway.

Not to mention he’s put millions of his own dollars into various charities, which, again, he doesn’t make public knowledge.

It’s very easy to see why the world has a new-found fascination with Reeves, and we’re all here for it.

Originally published as Keanu’s heartbreaking life story

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