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Friday, Aug 16, 2019

He’s the one: How Keanu Reeves wins the internet

The star best known for the Matrix trilogy is in the midst of a Keanussance (apparently what you call a Keanu Renaissance). And the fans can’t calm down.

hollywood Updated: Jun 29, 2019 17:40 IST
Dipanjan Sinha
Dipanjan Sinha
Hindustan Times
The star with an estimated net worth of $350 million, is raking it in this summer. And on the internet, the reclusive actor is enjoying an unexpected surge of popularity
The star with an estimated net worth of $350 million, is raking it in this summer. And on the internet, the reclusive actor is enjoying an unexpected surge of popularity(AFP)

Keanu is a man in the Goldilocks zone. He’s tall but not too tall; tough, but not overtly so. His fame is offset by a rather mysterious personal life. He feels both accessible and insanely out of reach.

At 54, he’s been a heartthrob for at least three generations of movie-goers, starting with the goofy 1989 comedy, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, booming again half a decade later with the suspense thriller Speed and the meltingly romantic, A Walk in the Clouds. Then came Neo and the Matrix trilogy, which gave him a whole new generation of fans and a cult following among geeks and conspiracy theorists (some of whom believe that the Matrix is the truth of our times and that all of reality as we know it is a simulation).

Through it all, Reeves has been the good guy. As an action hero, he was lithe and vulnerable long before that became a go-to look. As the bad guy, he’s the soft-spoken killer other guys are gunning for.

Right now, he’s in the midst of a Keanussance (apparently that’s what you call a Keanu Renaissance). Having more or less dropped off the radar after the Matrix movies, he returned as John Wick in 2014, and the world is now getting a triple dose — with John Wick 3 out last month; Toy Story 4 out this week; and the Netflix film Always Be My Maybe (starring Ali Wong), where he plays a parody of himself.


The memes just make themselves as he strides in to a double date in that last film, dressed all in black, as ‘Sail’ by Awolnation plays in the background.

So what is it about this guy? Well, for one, there’s the fact that he wears his fame so lightly. He takes the subway in New York, rides his motorbike to bookstores, eats sandwiches alone on park benches.

With that last image, captured in 2010, the memes once again just made themselves. ‘Sad Keanu’ was photoshopped into different settings. June 15 was declared Cheer-Up Keanu Day (and is still ‘celebrated’ annually).

In the year following the Matrix release, Reeves lost his girlfriend and their child. So when talk show host Stephen Colbert recently asked, “What do you think happens when we die?” and Reeves responded with a pregnant pause and then, “I know the ones who love us will miss us”, that became an internet sensation too. In the moment, as the studio audience went wild, a flash of bewilderment seemed to cross Reeves’s face. To be honest, we don’t get the fuss about this bit either.


The good guy bit we do get. In 2011, while riding the Metro in New York, Reeves was seen offering his seat to a co-passenger, a woman carrying a large bag. In 2014, he was seen waiting in line to get into the wrap party for his own film, Daughter of God.

He’s such a gentleman, the buzz now goes, that when he poses for pictures with fans, he doesn’t actually touch them. In a time of Trump and #MeToo, there’s a call for him to be declared Time magazine’s person of the year, for being the most wholesome person around.

There are rumours that Angelina Jolie wants to date him; fans are begging Sandra Bullock to help him find love again.

Meanwhile, the star with an estimated net worth of $350 million, is raking it in this summer. John Wick 3 has brought in $181 million at the box office already, with an opening week of $56.8 million in the US market alone. This is the second biggest opening week for him after Matrix Reloaded ($91.8 million).



Perhaps what is most irresistible about Reeves, especially to the young and the restless, is his seeming contentment. He doesn’t chase celebrity or feud with paparazzi. He’s never won an Oscar and doesn’t seem to care. His tragedies haven’t made him bitter or dysfunctional. Instead, he seems to hold the world at a healthy distance, almost as if the clamour doesn’t reach him. Almost as if we’re still in the Matrix and he’s, well, The One.

First Published: Jun 29, 2019 17:40 IST

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