How Keanu Reeves transformed from Hollywood's joke to Hollywood's favourite actor.

When you hear the name ‘Keanu’, there’s just one face that comes to mind.

In recent decades, Keanu Reeves has become a brand in and of himself.

The actor, who is famously known for being incredibly nice, musters up just as much 90s nostalgia as his Dracula co-star Winona Ryder.

But this year alone, the 54-year-old appears to be experiencing what can only be described as a reawakening.

Watch the trailer for Always Be My Maybe, starring Keanu Reeves, right here. Post continues after video.

From the wildly popular third instalment of John Wick to a brief but brilliant cameo in Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe to his voice role as motorcycle-riding stuntman Duke Caboom in Toy Story 4, 2019 really is the year of Keanu Reeves.

In fact, when the John Wick actor stepped on stage in front of thousands at the world’s biggest gaming convention E3 in June to announce his appearance in upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077, Reeves was met with cheers, screams and an outburst of heckling from an over-excited audience member who yelled out “You’re breathtaking”.


But for many years before Keanu Reeves became Hollywood’s favourite leading man, the actor was considered by many as Hollywood’s joke.

The Canadian, who first appeared in a studio movie in 1986, spent many of his first years in the industry appearing in movies aimed at teenage audiences. From his appearance in Rob Lowe-starring drama Youngblood to his lead roles in Permanent Record and both Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the actor was primarily known for starring in comedies and teen indie dramas.

In 1994, when the actor was cast in a starring role in action film Speed, it was met with criticism and controversy.

After all, how could an actor known for being Ted Theodore Logan, a character whose vocabulary doesn’t stretch much further than “dude”, take on one of the year’s biggest action movies?

Keanu Reeves was a poster boy in the 90s. Image: Getty.

In the end, the actor's appearance paid off with the film largely praised among critics. But in the years that followed, the next series of movies that the actor starred in ultimately failed at the box office.

After refusing a reported $11 million pay check to appear in Speed 2: Cruise Control, a move which left Reeves blacklisted by 20th Century Fox for an entire decade, Reeves' appearances in movies A Walk In The Clouds, Chain Reaction and Feeling Minnesota all failed to impress critics.

With the release of cult science fiction action film The Matrix in 1999, however, Reeves' career trajectory changed for the better.


From The Matrix to Constantine to John Wick, the actor played everyone from heroes, villains, hitmen and sweethearts.

Keanu Reaves Speed
Keanu Reeves in Speed. Image: 20th Century Fox.

"For me, it's just continuing to be able to work with great artists and tell stories that people enjoy," Reeves told Parade. "I was always hoping, even when I was young, that I could do different things," he said. "I'm really grateful for that. I'm very fortunate. I'm glad to be here."

But while Reeves has undoubtedly gained critical success over the past few decades, growing from an actor often dismissed as an airhead by those who confused his Bill & Ted character with reality to becoming the household name he is today, the story behind Keanu Reeves' success is about much more than his long list of film appearances and accolades.

In fact, despite maintaining a predominately private life away from the spotlight, Keanu Reeves has made himself known as the nicest, most down to earth guy in Hollywood.

Without a PR man or news camera in sight, the 54-year-old has proven himself to be the kind of nice guy that actively goes out of his own way or into his own pocket to change people’s lives and ease their burdens.


The stories of gracious humility are endless.

In 2001, The Wall Street Journal reported that Reeves had taken a multi-million dollar pay cut for The Matrix sequels, so the franchise's talented makeup and special effects artists could earn more.

He also reportedly bought Harley Davidson motorcycles for The Matrix stunt team.

Earlier this year, the actor even entertained a planeload of fellow stranded passengers travelling on an airline-supplied minibus when mechanical issues caused a commercial flight travelling from San Francisco to Los Angeles to be diverted.


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Reeves has also been deemed a "respectful king" among fans after a Twitter user noticed that the actor doesn't touch women in photos.

Sharing photos of the star alongside a number of female fans as well as Dolly Parton, the fan pointed out that Reeves' hands simply hover above the waists and arms of the women he posed with.

"This should be how it's done unless you know the woman doesn't mind being touched," one fan responded.

"It's not about taking chances. It's about being considerate and respectful, qualities that Keanu carries in spades," another wrote.


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In November, Reeves – for the first time in decades – brought a date to an event.

Attending the LACMA Art + Film Gala in Los Angeles, the 55-year-old actor appeared alongside his business collaborator Alexandra Grant.

The pair, who were seen holding hands as they posed for the cameras, have been friends and collaborators for years, with 46-year-old artist Grant collaborating together on Reeves' books – Ode to Happiness and Shadows.

Following their joint appearance, the longtime friends are rumoured to be dating.

keanu reeves girlfriend
Keanu Reeves and Alexander Grant. Image: Getty.
keanu reeves girlfriend
The pair are longtime friends. Image: Getty.

With the release of new Netflix film Always Be My Maybe earlier this year, the world's collective love and adoration for the 54-year-old Canadian has grown even stronger.

The film, starring Ali Wong as Sasha and Randall Park as Marcus, follows two childhood friends and one-time college lovers who reconnect later in life. As their feelings for each other return and grow after meeting again as adults, the pair come across a number of obstacles – including none other than Keanu Reeves, who plays himself in the film.


From weeping over his meal at the dinner table to requesting a dish that “plays with time”, the actor's short but sweet cameo in the film presented a hilariously heightened caricature of Keanu Reeves.

“He immediately got it. He read the script and wanted to meet with us, so we had a meeting with him before he agreed to sign on,” Always Be My Maybe director Nahnatchka Khan said. “We were talking about the character, and he just had so many funny ideas and pitches that we went back and revised the script with those in mind.”

After working with Reeves on the movie, Ali Wong described the actor as "very considerate" and "super thoughtful".

“Throughout the process, he was very much like, ‘This is Marcus and Sasha’s story, and I don’t want me to get in the way of their story," she said.

“Even on the red carpet [at the premiere], he kept on moving to the fringe when we took group shots,” Wong said. “It’s Keanu, and everyone’s so excited about him, and everyone else looks like garbage when they’re next to him, so I think he just wanted to be considerate and tried to keep the focus on us.”

Despite only being in two scenes in the movie, it's Reeves' ability to be self deprecating which makes the actor's appearance in the film – and his overall persona – so damn loveable.

After all, 2019 really is the year of Keanu Reeves – and we couldn't be happier.

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