A most excellent life – all the good deeds of Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves on 'The Matrix: Resurrections' publicity tour (Image credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images)

Keanu Reeves has resurfaced in style with the premiere of The Matrix: Resurrections and has John Wick: Chapter 4 on the horizon in 2023 – exciting times for his legion of fans globally.

Quite apart from his sheer watchability and his ageless looks, it’s worth reminding ourselves about all the times the 57-year-old Canadian actor excelled at life and why he’s widely regarded as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood.

Charity begins at home

Keanu reportedly gave 70 per cent of his $35m earnings for 1999’s The Matrix to leukaemia research after his sister, Kim, was diagnosed with the disease. He also set up a leading children’s charity, the Keanu Reeves Children Foundation, which has changed the lives of more than a billion kids around the world.

He is generous to co-workers

He gave each of the stunt men in John Wick 3 a Harley-Davidson motorbike after a particularly gruelling sequence. No big deal to Keanu, who told Esquire: “That fight was 17 shooting days. We trained every day for seven hours for three weeks going through all the motions. We learned the term 'super-perfect'. You want to go for super-perfect. So, obviously I was getting paid well. And so, you know, just as a thank you to those guys. Got them some gifts.”

 He renegotiates contracts to get a worse deal

Keanu famously changed his back-end profit deal ahead of The Matrix sequels to give a substantial share of his earnings to the film’s special effects and costume design teams.

Keanu Reeves

(Image credit: Getty Images)

He is open about grief

Keanu has had more than his fair share of upheaval and tragedy in his life. His girlfriend Jennifer Syme suffered a stillbirth at eight months in 2000 and a year later died in a car accident at the age of 28. He has never had another child and never married, but is in a relationship with an old friend, the artist Alexandra Grant (pictured above). 

He writes poetry

His 2016 collection of poetry, Shadows, was according to an interview with the Guardian his attempt to ‘contextualise the grief, even be inspired by it, even find a certain pleasure in it… Let [the grief] move, and not be trapped inside it… It just put things in a new shape that I could carry or have with me’.

He plays punk

At the height of his fame in the 90s, Keanu formed an alt rock band, Dogstar, releasing albums, playing at Glastonbury 1999 and supporting David Bowie.   

He’s a good listener

Keanu is renowned by his friends to be a listener rather than a talker. Asked to define what a good listener is, he once said: “I think it’s interest and care. I’m interested in whoever I’m speaking to. I care.”

Work is the thing

The star of Speed, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Point Break among many other much-loved films likes to keep busy. “Let’s go for motorcycle ride, let’s read. I love going to the movies. For me, my work is that as well. I often sometimes get asked, ‘You know, you’ve been at this for a while’, and they’re like, ‘Do you still love it?’

“And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I love it even more’. For me, work is life.”

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.