Summer of Love: Keanu Reeves (the nicest guy on the internet)

Image of Keanu Reeves (the nicest guy on the internet)You know, I think this might be my first real break through Summer of Love post, and I say that because part of any real process of cultivating love has to start with owning up, letting go, and letting yourself be vulnerable. I’m about to do all three in one post. In the early 90s I saw about as many movies in the theater as humanly possible. Me and my girlfriend of the time would see two or three movies a day sometimes, and it was a wonderful education, but I still have one regret from those heady days of cinema consumption: I was really hard on [[Keanu Reeves]]. I blame my girlfriend of the time, in part, because she was a film student at UCLA, and was being pumped with all these intellectual idea of art and aesthetics, but I have to own up—I trashed Keanu every chance I got. Whether it was him trying to do Shakespeare in [[My Own Private Idaho]] (1991) or [[Kenneth Branagh]]’s Much Ado About Nothing (1993)—or even a flaccid Johnathan Harker in [[Bram Stoker’s Dracula]] (1992). Whatever the film, it didn’t matter, I was unforgiving. I went on and on about how he couldn’t act in my haughty 20 something way, feeling all self-righteous and imperious cause no matter what, I could always lord it over Keanu. And when Speed came out (Keanu’s break through Hollywood A-lister film) I broke all ties with his films, and wrote him off for good. I even forgot that I actually really liked him in [[River’s Edge]] (1986), [[Parenthood]](1989) (especially), and [[Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure]] (1989). I seem to have ignored that he put in an impressive performance in [[Point Break]], (1991) and that he refused to do a lay-up cash money sequel for Speed and varied his filmography, giving as much attention to low-budget, independent films as he did blockbusters.

Now, I still held much of my contempt for Keanu through the 90s, I laughed him off in [[The Matrix]] (1999), and held comfortably onto my superiority for almost a decade. But come 2000 I had a scare. I saw [[Sam Raimi]]’s The Gift, and while I wasn’t expecting to see Keanu, he showed up nonetheless (as popular actors who vary their roles are apt to do) and his performance as the abusive redneck husband was one of his very best. He was truly haunting, and has come to exemplify the abusive redneck husband for me even more so than [[Dwight Yoakam]] in [[Sling Blade]] (1996). And while I even tried to fight this realization in the theater seats in 2000 while I was watching The Gift given it was Keanu Reeves, it continued to secretly haunt me. Fast forward ten more years, and it just so happens that The Gift plays just about every night on some premium cable channel (and I have them all!)—and I end up watching it just about every night it’s on. That film is becoming a real favorite of mine, as is [[A Simple Plan]] (1998) —long live Raimi!!!

All this said, I had still blocked out my decades of unfair aggression and misplaced contempt of Keanu Reeves until tonight, when it all came clear I had been living a lie, a superficial cover-up of my own deficiencies in my lording it over Keanu’s career. It was a rather accidental series of circumstances that lead me here, but I think it had been brewing for close to a decade, so I am kind of thinking tonight was simply a trigger point. Mike Caulfield’s kitschy advertising for EdCamp Keene brought it on:

Image of Keanu Reeves (the nicest guy on the internet)

Simple enough image, and joyful in its own way. But when I saw that image I started to wonder about Keanu, where is he now? -how’s he doing? -why did I forsake him? I went to his Wikipedia article for the latest, and realized he’d been working quite consistently over the last 25 years, and unlike most actors and actresses there was no real annoying drama or juicy gossip—it was all pretty straight. Keanu works as an actor, he’s not caught up in all the bullshit, he identifies as a Canadian, was a pretty good goalie in high school, and had a pretty tough childhood growing up—moving from place to place and living with step dad after step dad. I never heard him complain about that, did you? And when he was the butt of all the haters self-satisfied acting jokes throughout the 90s I never saw him lose his cool, did you? He took his super stardom in stride, and kept on going to work, doing his job. But then….then I came across this article on the National Post that made me not only feel bad for being a prick to Keanu for all those years, but actually become a fan—to finally be able to confess my love for him. And, what’s more, it is all too apparent I am not alone as the National Post article makes clear:

A comment thread has started on Reddit in which people from all over the internet have stopped in to share their thoughts about actor Keanu Reeves. The comments paint Reeves as the nicest guy in Hollywood – generous with time and money. And well read. And tough. So tough in fact, that we may be witnessing the genesis of a new Keanu Reeves internet meme. Heads up, Chuck Norris.

Some excerpts:

Back in the late 90s and fresh out of college I got my first job as an assistant prop designer on the set of Chain Reaction (Keanu was a supporting actor with Morgan Freeman). 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.

I met Keanu when he was in Australia doing the matrix. I knew who he was, but when I asked him what he did for a living he answered “I’m a struggling musician”. I thought that was sweet.

I had a few friends working special effects jobs on the Matrix movies, he bought all of them fucking HARLEYS for Christmas during the shoot for the second one.

There are no bad stories about Keanu. I live in LA and work in North Hollywood, and everyone I’ve ever heard out here tell a story about Keanu says nothing but great things. Everyone loves that guy. It’s made me love his movies. I don’t care how great they are. I love to see him, because he makes me happy. I like to know there’s someone like that.

Paul also told me that Keanu once explained to him why he was getting so many action roles. He had injured himself at some point and had fused vertebrae in his upper back or neck, so when he turned his head, his shoulders and chest tended to follow, because of his limited flexibility. “It makes me look dynamic, rather than disabled” was his explanation.

Chatted with a feature writer for Details who spent basically a whole day with Keanu for his profile last year or maybe the year before. He went to a bookstore with him and (this is in the story) Keanu is REALLY well-read: Keanu mused enthusiastically about Thomas Pynchon, obscure poets, Norman Mailer, etc. as he bounces around the book store. Keanu is also a lot better read than he seems, apparently.

I love that Keanu Reeves is emerging as the nicest man in Hollywood, and by extension the nicest guy on the internet. And maybe, just maybe, the nicest man who ever lived. Given this, it is clear he will forgive me my sins, and at the same time it lets me come clean, a baptism, a washing away of all the petty concerns and unnecessarily harsh judgments. In some odd way Keanu has freed me, and knowing he is so nice makes me envious in different ways—I wanna be that nice too. So, if you ever read this, Keanu, I’m sorry for being a prick in my early 20s, and I take it all back. Being the nicest guy ever, and going by what a search for “keanu + nice” gets you on Google these days, you have something a little bit more than talent, you have what so many of us need: a nice bone in your body—in fact, it sounds like they’re all nice. And if you are really as nice as the numerous stories on the web suggest, than I have to say there is no greater legacy. Keanu Reeves is the Chuck Norris of nice, and being that nice is even tougher than being that tough.

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16 Responses to Summer of Love: Keanu Reeves (the nicest guy on the internet)

  1. Luke says:

    I’m not suprised. I knew his sister is college, and she was also quite nice. Plus, she was emotive.

  2. Luke says:

    *in* College. She was not the whole institution, despite her ability to stop time.

  3. Here’s the best Sad Keanu images:

    http://www.urlesque.com/2010/06/07/sad-keanu-reeves-the-latest-image-meme/

    It’s interesting, b/c like you surmised, they are funny, but also kind of poignant. They aren’t mocking Keanu — it’s something else.

  4. Mikhail says:

    I must admit, when I saw the post title I immediately thought my comment would begin with “Oh yeah, and you love Tom Cruise too, you useful idiot” but I now see the error of my kneejerk reaction.

    I love it when a celeb turns out to be a nice person, almost as much as I am chagrined to learn that another is not. To wit, Abe Vigoda is supposedly not a nice man. Crushing, I know.

    Also, I know Kung Fu.

  5. mike. says:

    While I don’t necessarily disagree with this post, I have to say of the one person I know who had a substantial real-life encounter with the man that it did not go well. This was at San Diego Comic Con a couple years ago, where Keanu was pushing his “The Day the Earth Stood Still” remake. My friend, then working as a correspondent for SpikeTV, had to interview Keanu and he actually found Keanu to be rather rude, cold, standoffish, and superior. Granted, my friend was wearing a silly costume and Keanu probably had to endure hours of such inanity and insanity in a loud, crowded room, but I say if you don’t want to deal with stupid press-junket questions asked by people in silly costumes in loud and crowded rooms, then don’t push your movie at San Diego Comic Con.

  6. Ink says:

    In my 17 years of Keanu fandom, I have never heard/read anything other than nice things about Keanu from ordinary people who have met him. Some journalists, though, have described him as being a bit standoffish and distant, especially at press conferences and other “non-personal” media arrangements. Him being shy by nature may have something to do with that.

    If anyone wants to know what Keanu is like when he’s comfortable in interview situations, you may want to visit fansites that have interview archives, such as http://whoaisnotme.net/articles/articles.htm and http://www.club-keanu.com.

  7. keanu says:

    this made my day. Thank you.

  8. Jim Doran says:

    Please, though, do not write one of these about Tim Burton. I will then have to remove you from my RSS reader.

  9. Reverend says:

    @Luke,
    Liar.

    @Mike,

    It’s interesting, b/c like you surmised, they are funny, but also kind of poignant. They aren’t mocking Keanu — it’s something els

    It is something else, some good, clean intent fun, and perhaps a little Summer of Love writ large thanks to Keanu. How can that suck?

    @Mikhail,
    I’m surprised you don’t have a Keanu story, I mean your such a star fucker, I thought it would be a layup 🙂

    @mike,
    Perhaps you didn’t realize this was the Sumer of Love, what’s wrong with you? Even Keanu can have a bad day, though it’s rare and I’m beginning to wonder about your loyalties, quite frankly 🙂

    @Ink,
    That keanu archive is outrageous, amazing how many times its passed hands an still is so comprehensive, and you couldn’t be doing it for a nicer guy 🙂

    @Keanu,
    I’m glad it did, I’m a huge fan now. Keep on shining your light And I really did dig you in The Gift.

    @Jim,
    If Tim Burton gets a Summer of Love post, I will remove me from my RSS reader. There are rules we don’t break and lines we don’t cross here at the bava.

  10. Eileen says:

    I admit I fell in love with Keanu back then cause he was the hottest thing on earth (Kenneth Brannagh:”I’d pay money to see Keanu in leather pants!”)….but he turned out to be the sweetest person on earth …..he may lose his hottness one day but he will always stay this fine soul…..
    all the envy now is about something you can’t get and you can’t buy…being truely and from the heart a nice person…

    Keanu, you’re the best. Yes, he’s an angel!

  11. Renchy says:

    does anyone have his mail or e mail from someone who works in Warner Bros,Fox or so…… its for my job 😀 thank you you can mail me at : [email protected]

  12. diana says:

    Cool Breeze Over The Mountains….May Keanu be Blessed Forever!

  13. Debbie Pedigo says:

    I don’t think Keanu Reeves gets all the recognition he deserves. I have been a fan for a long time. It is nice to think that there are nice guys in Hollywood. I also think it is outstanding that he has been able to keep his private life private, it must be so hard to accomplish that. My hats off to one of my favorite guys! ( In Showbusiness) of course, my hubby is my best guy!!

  14. Interesting I have always compared Keanu’s character in The Gift to Dwight Yoakam’s character in Slingblade. I’ve always thought they should put together a movie with those two guys playing those characters. Both those characters were dramatic and in your face!

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