- Sep 2, 1964
- Beirut, Lebanon
From lamebrained teenage time traveler to metaphysical sci-fi Superman, Keanu Reeves has portrayed just about every character type imaginable in his sometimes wildly fluctuating career. Frequently lambasted by critics and often polarizing audiences suspicious of his talent's true extent, Reeves has nevertheless managed to maintain his lucrative career… More Bio:
From lamebrained teenage time traveler to metaphysical sci-fi Superman, Keanu Reeves has portrayed just about every character type imaginable in his sometimes wildly fluctuating career. Frequently lambasted by critics and often polarizing audiences suspicious of his talent's true extent, Reeves has nevertheless managed to maintain his lucrative career by balancing his lesser efforts with intermittent direct hits at the box office.
Born Keanu Charles Reeves in Beirut, Lebanon, on September 2, 1964, and named for the Hawaiian word that means "cool breeze over the mountains," the future actor was a world traveler by the age of two, thanks to his father's career as a geologist. His mother, Patricia Taylor, worked as a showgirl and later a costume designer of film and stage, and after his parents divorced, Reeves followed his mother and sister to live in New York; the trio would later relocate to Toronto -- where Reeves' interest in ice hockey and acting took a substantial precedence over academics. His formidable presence in front of the goal eventually earned Reeves the nickname "The Wall," and it wasn't long before all interest in school waned and the talented goalie decided to pursue acting.
Later working as a manager in a Toronto pasta shop, Reeves soon began turning up in small roles on various Canadian television programs, making his feature debut in the 1985 Canadian film One Step Away before American audiences got their first good look at him in the 1986 Rob Lowe drama Youngblood. Subsequently going back to television and garnering favorable notice for his role in 1986's Young Again, it was the release of Tim Hunter's The River's Edge later that year that would provide Reeves with his breakthrough role. A harrowing tale of teen apathy in small town America, The River's Edge provided Reeves with a perfect opportunity to display his dramatic range, and the film would eventually become a minor classic in teen angst cinema.
Appearing in a series of sometimes quirky but ultimately forgettable efforts in the following few years, 1988 found Reeves drawing favorable nods for his role in director Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons. It was the following year's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, however, that would transform the actor into something of an '80s icon. Reeves' performance of a moronic, air guitar wielding wannabe rocker traveling through time in order to complete his history report and graduate from high school proved so endearingly silly that it spawned both a sequel (1991's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey) and a Saturday morning cartoon. In an odd twist of fate, Reeves and co-star Alex Winter had initially auditioned for the opposite roles from those in which they were ultimately cast. Though he would later offer variations of the character type in such efforts as Parenthood (1989) and I Love You to Death (1990), it wasn't long before Reeves was looking to break away from the trend and take his career to the next level.
After drawing favorable reviews for his turn as a rich kid turned street hustler opposite River Phoenix in Gus Van Sant's 1991 drama My Own Private Idaho, Reeves battled the undead in Francis Ford Coppola's lavish production of Dracula (1992). Showing his loyalty toward fellow Bill and Ted cohort Winter with a hilarious extended cameo in Freaked the following year, Reeves once again teamed with Van Sant for the critically eviscerated Even Cowgirls Get the Blues before surprising audiences with an unexpectedly complex performance as Siddhartha in Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha (1993).
Just as audiences were beginning to ask themselves if they may have underestimated Reeves talent as an actor, the mid-'90s found his career taking an unexpected turn toward action films with the release of Jan de Bont's 1994 mega-hit Speed (Reeves would ultimately decline to appear in the film's disastrous sequel). Balancing out such big-budgeted adrenaline
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