Keanu Reeves Return in The Matrix Resurrections

JIM SLOTEK ( he/ him)



Toronto Star


ON DECEMBER 22, KEANU REEVES WILL BE returning to one of his most iconic film franchises when he reprises his role of Neo in Lana Wachowski’s game-changing Matrix Revolutions. The excitement around the fourth instalment of the Matrix franchise is a reminder that Reeves is indeed one of the most renowned movie stars in the world. He’s also one of the most humble. Pop culture has exploded with a new respect for Reeves in recent years with fans sharing stories of how relatable the actor is, how kind he is to random strangers and the intense respect he shows for everyone he meets. The internet (rightfully) dubbed him the nicest man in Hollywood after it was reported that he waited patiently for 20 minutes in the rain outside the wrap party of his own film, Daughter of God, after a mix-up because he didn’t want to cause a scene. The thing is, this wasn’t the first time that Reeves has quietly proven he’s one of Hollywood’s finest. Or the last. He is aware of his celebrity status, but doesn’t take advantage of it and he’s generous but careful with his presence. But, when the New York Times ranked Keanu Reeves at No. 4 in its 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century (So Far) last year – just ahead of Nicole Kidman and just behind Daniel Day Lewis, it generated plenty of social media chatter. “Why DID you include Keanu Reeves on the list?” To be fair, NYT critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis acknowledge that the list was “both necessarily subjective and possibly scandalous” for its choices. Scott wrote, “Maybe you’re surprised to find Keanu Reeves so high on this list. But ask yourself: have you ever been disappointed when he showed up in a movie?” It’s true. There are still people whose impression of Reeves’ acting ability was forged during the Bill & Ted era, when it was a popular game to count the number of times the actor said “Whoa” in his movies — the official count is 113 times. But Team Keanu is on firm ground as we pass the first fifth of this century and pop culture has exploded with a new respect for him. With a subtle deadpan and without an ounce of hamminess, he has become a go-to action star in three different franchises, John Wick, The Matrix and Speed. He bailed on the latter before the sequel. In between, there’s been an almost whimsical unpredictability to his career. On the heels of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, for example, Reeves accepted the role of the melancholy Dane in a Winnipeg production of Hamlet. If the purpose was to hone his acting chops under the radar, it failed on that score. Critics from all over the globe located Winnipeg on the map and showed up with pens pre-poisoned. Despite that, the grudging reviews ranged from lukewarm to highly positive. A face that’s not always easy to read made him a natural for thoughtful independent films and a popular attendee at film festivals. It also has sometimes made his quirky interviews a game of “He’s kidding, right?” I interviewed him at the Toronto International Film Festival when he played a New Age orthodontist in the Sundance Festival darling Thumbsucker. He told me that when he was growing up in Toronto, “I always wanted to rob a bank. It sounded fun - all the plotting and planning, the danger, the treasure.” Whatever, dude. What’s not to like about a guy who comes at you from left field like that? He was born in Beirut, Lebanon to an English mother and Hawaiian father (the name Keanu means “Cool breeze over the mountain” in Hawaiian) and ended up in Toronto via Sydney, Australia and New York. Though he began acting as a child at age 9, Reeves was torn between hockey or acting as a career. The closest he’d get to the former was playing a French-Canadian