Keanu Reeves is often slated by critics as the worst actor in Hollywood, delivering wooden and expressionless performances, yet he commands one of the highest salaries in the film business, and has worked with many of the finest directors and actors of the day.
The offspring of a half-Chinese, half-Hawaiian geologist and an English showgirl, Keanu’s itinerant parents did not stay together long, so Keanu's childhood took himself, his mother and sisters to Australia, New York and Canada. His mother Patricia had a series of interesting partners and husbands, with connections to showbiz, and the young Keanu, not one for academia, decided acting was to be his career, and he began to find work in adverts and TV shows.
His motion picture debut was in ‘Dream To Believe’ in Canada, but his part in the 1986 TV movie ‘Under the Influence’ got him more notice. He headed for Hollywood in 1986 with $3,000, an old Volvo and his stepfather Paul Aaron's address. A few name changes followed as ‘Keanu’ was considered by his manager to be too exotic, but they were short-lived and he reverted to Keanu.
A string of TV movies followed, including ‘Act of Vengeance’, ‘Young Again’, ‘The Brotherhood of Justice’ and ‘Babes in Toyland’, all of which were released in 1986. His parts grew and then he started attracting the eye of more mainstream directors.
Director Stephen Frears was among the big hitters to collaborate with the rising star early in his career, casting him in the 1988 period drama ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, alongside Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer. Keanu went on to star in 1991 film ‘Point Break’ as an FBI agent, which landed him his first accolade - the MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male.
Gus Van Sant noticed the talented young actor and cast him in the 1991 independent film ‘My Own Private Idaho’, which also starred River Phoenix and James Russo. However, 1993 brought a new award, albeit one he may not have wanted when he was given the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor for his role in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.
Keanu went on to make up for this with his appearance in ‘Speed’, which really made him a household name, perhaps not so much for his acting, but the fact that it grossed nearly $300 million. More films followed, then ‘The Matrix’ in 1999 made him another massive hit, and catapulted Keanu to the highest earning actor bracket, with a salary of $20 million per film.
In 2005, Keanu, who had starred in two more commercially successful Matrix movies and other films including the high grossing fantasy/horror ‘Constantine’, was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His latest roles include parts in 'Man Of Tai Chi' (2013), which he also directed and '47 Ronin' (2013).
His personal life continues to intrigue fans, some of whom raised concern about his happiness in 2010. Despite the fame and wealth, though, Keanu shuns the limelight. He works hard and is always self-deprecating. Still living in Toronto, he prefers to surf, ballroom dance and ride horses.