With movies like The Matrix, Speed, John Wick, and several others, Keanu Reeves has become one of the top actors in Hollywood. He is often jokingly considered immortal because of how little his appearance changed over the decades, and also because of striking resemblance to Paul Mounet, a 19th-century French actor, and Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula. That wasn’t the only instance of what his looks inspired. Did you know that in 1994, the original character design for the superhero Green Lantern was based on him? Here are some more such interesting facts about Keanu Reeves and his life.
1. Keanu Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon. He has English, Chinese, Irish, Native Hawaiian, and Portuguese ancestry.
Reeves’ mother, Patricia Taylor, is English and originally from Essex. His father, Samuel Nowlin Reeves Jr., is an American born in Hawaii and of Chinese, English, Irish, Native Hawaiian, and Portuguese ancestry. Reeves’ paternal grandmother is Chinese and Hawaiian, and as a child, he was around Chinese art, furniture, and cuisine growing up. His mother imparted his English manners to him, which he says he retained even after growing up. Two of his favorite shows as a child were The Two Ronnies and Monty Python.(1, 2)
2. Reeves’ first name “Keanu” means “cool breeze over the mountains” and was derived from the name of his great-great-uncle Keaweaheulu.
Reeves was named after his paternal uncle Henry Keanu Reeves. The name of his great-great-uncle means “the soft breeze raising” in Hawaiian. When Reeves first came to Hollywood to be an actor, his agent thought his name was too exotic and suggested he changed it. So, in the early movies in his career, he was sometimes credited as K.C. Reeves (after his full name Keanu Charles Reeves), or Norman Kreeves, or Chuck Spadina. (1, 2)
3. Reeves’ mother was a showgirl and costume designer, and his father was a drug dealer.
After leaving England, Patricia Taylor worked as a showgirl in Paris and then in a Beirut casino where she met Reeves’ father, Samuel Nowlin Reeves Jr. They later moved to Toronto where Taylor began working as a costume designer. One of her clients was rock star Alice Cooper who used to babysit Reeves. His father used drugs and was addicted to heroin for two decades. He abandoned his family when Reeves was three years old. Reeves last met him when he was 13 years old and never kept in touch after that. His father was arrested in 1992 at Hilo International Airport while attempting to sell heroin to someone. He received 10 years in prison but was paroled after two years. (1, 2, 3)
4. Reeves was a successful ice hockey goalie which earned him the nickname “The Wall.” He dreamed of playing hockey for Canada but had to give it up because of an injury.
Reeves had to move around a lot due to his mother’s marriages and was often expelled from school for being “just a little too rambunctious and shot [his] mouth off once too often.” In just five years, he attended four high schools, including Etobicoke School of the Arts, Toronto. Though he did not do well in academics in which was challenged by dyslexia, he excelled at sports.
While at De La Salle College “Oaklands”, a private Catholic school in Toronto, he became a successful ice hockey player earning him the nickname “The Wall.” Because his mother was a costume designer and his first stepfather, Paul Aaron, was a Broadway and Hollywood director, Reeves’ interest in films began early on. One of his early jobs was working as a production assistant in Aaron’s films. After leaving De La Salle College, he attended Avondale Secondary Alternative School while working as an actor, but later dropped out and pursued acting full time. (source)
5. During the early 1990s, Reeves was the bassist and backing vocalist in the grunge band Dogstar which released two albums: Our Little Visionary and Happy Ending.
Dogstar was formed in 1991 after Reeves’ chance encounter with TV actor Robert Mailhouse who was wearing a Detroit Red Wings hockey sweater. Being an avid hockey fan, he asked if Mailhouse needed a goalie. Soon they became friends and started jamming together. In 1992, they were joined by Gregg Miller, the band’s lead guitarist and singer, and in 1994, by Bret Domrose, vocalist/guitarist. In 1995, they opened for Bon Jovi in Australia and New Zealand, and in 1996, released four tracks followed by their debut album Our Little Visionary. Despite having individual work commitments, they managed to release their second album Happy Ending in 1999. They performed to a worldwide audience until 2002. Reeves left the band because of his work schedule following a few intermittent performances.(source)