Meme icons: Keanu Reeves
Why is actor Keanu Reeves such a bottomless repository of first-class memes? What’s the ultimate viral Keanu moment? Should we be worried about sad Keanu? What’s the wider impact of Keanu Reeves on meme culture?
Nobody can deny that Keanu Reeves is one of the foremost meme icons of his generation. Nearly 60 years old, the still-dashing acting hero remains more than capable of carrying entire blockbuster movie franchises on his back.
What’s the secret to his success – why is he so damn loved? Part of the reason is probably his mixed heritage. Did you know he was born in Beirut, Lebanon? Or that his mother was English – from Essex! – and his dad was Hawaiian, with a bit of Chinese and Portuguese in the mix too.
Plus he’s Canadian. So he had his share of challenges on the way up, is what we’re saying.
Anywho, onto the memes!
KEANU MATRIX MEMES
We all know he got his big break way back in the late 1980s with the Bill and Ted movies. There’s an urban legend, that he was just some random stoner dude at the time he got discovered, hanging out in a video game arcade when producers picked him up.
That’s not true – he’d been a minor Canadian TV actor for some years already – but it’s a great story, eh.
The 90s saw him playing bass – definitely the cool instrument – in a rockband called Dogstar, and a role in an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The man has levels, is what we’re saying.
In the late 90s, however, it was his breakthrough role in The Matrix movies that made him a proper, respected international movie star. That movie still holds up as one of the creepiest, most prescient works of modern sci-fi.
Especially in light of recent developments in AI. How long before we need to blot out the sun with a dust cloud to shut up ChatGPT and slow down the machines before they dominate every area of our lives?
KEANU IS A GOOD GUY
Apparently, Keanu Reeves was so grateful to the effects teams that worked on The Matrix movies that he bought the key members of the special effects department Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Chad Stahelski — who was Reeves’ stunt double in the original ‘Matrix’ trilogy and later went on to direct the star in the “John Wick” films — told The Hollywood Reporter that Keanu would personally finance ‘field trips’ to Hollywood award shows for anybody who he felt was part of his success.
“He flew a bunch of us up here,” Stahelski said, awestruck. “He’s incredibly generous. In the audience tonight will be so many people that helped him, from his martial art trainers to jiu-jitsu trainers to hair and makeup to his stunt crew. He makes sure that his friends and family are here. He’s epic.”
What’s all the more impressive is that Keanu’s kindness comes from a place of truly understanding suffering. His dad left when young Keanu was just three years old. He struggled with dyslexia, attending four different high schools before dropping out.
Keanu’s best mate perished from a drug overdose at 23. His girlfriend, Jennifer Syme, suffered a cruel stillbirth fully eight months into pregnancy. Not long after that, Some died in a car accident.
His sister battled leukaemia, a horrifying debilitating bone cancer. But it should be noted, through his family’s shared suffering, Keanu star has shone all the brighter.
As a result of his sister’s suffering, Keanu has donated a significant chunk of his movie star fortune to fighting cancer. “I have a private foundation that’s been running for five or six years, and it helps aid a couple of children’s hospitals and cancer research,” Reeves told the Ladies Home Journal in 2009.
It’s not called ‘The Keanu Reeves foundation’ though. Heck no.
“I don’t like to attach my name to it, I just let the foundation do what it does.”
He’s renowned for travelling by subway where possible, and giving up his seat to those more in need. Keanu also famously treats fans with respect – once buying an ice cream just so he’d have a receipt to write an autograph on for a starstruck kid.
The ‘respectful king’ has a great reputation with women – and a deep, wise philosophical streak.
During an interview on ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ in May 2019, Reeves was asked by Colbert what he thinks happens when we die.
His reply? “I know the ones who love us, will miss us.”
While we’re here, does anybody know IS IT PRONOUNCED GIF OR JIF?