‘You’re breathtaking’: On Keanu Reeves’ birthday, how he became internet’s boyfriend, and worthy of lifting Mjolnir
Keanu Reeves turns 55 on Monday, September 2. Currently in the middle of a career renaissance, the actor has emerged after several years spent under the radar, to not only reassert himself as a box office draw, but also someone to look up to.
Keanu, who has touched stardom in three different decades, and ostensibly acquired three generations of die-hard fans, is currently revisiting his biggest hits. With the third (and most lucrative) instalment of the John Wick action series behind him, Keanu recently wrapped filming on a long-awaited sequel to his first franchise hit, Bill & Ted. Next, he will reprise his role as Neo in the fourth instalment of the Matrix series.
The next few years will push him to stratospheric heights, but this isn’t something new for the actor, who established himself as one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood in the 90s and early 2000s. One of the most heartwarming pieces of Hollywood lore suggests that Keanu gave away $75 million of his Matrix salary to fund the visual effects of the film. At the time, he was charging around $15 million upfront, and reports suggest that he made around $250 million for the three Matrix movies combined, after taking a cut of the profits.
These days, the actor charges around a couple of million for the John Wick movies, but retains an ownership stake in the franchise.
But Keanu has never been a typical Hollywood star. Even when his films were doing gangbusters, he would often be spotted riding the New York subway, riding his bike to bookstores, and famously, snacking on a sandwich, alone.
His down-to-earth persona coupled with his tragic life experiences - Keanu lost his girlfriend and their child in close succession - have made him an instantly endearing figure in the movie industry. At a time when reports suggest that Fast & Furious actors Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham have clauses in their contracts that dictate how badly they can be attacked in the films, Keanu insisted that the two stuntmen he fights at the end of the third John Wick do not die at his character’s hands.
And don’t believe that Keanu isn’t aware of his reputation. He parodied himself in a recent cameo appearance in the Netflix romantic comedy, Always Be My Maybe. The actor, known for having a keen interest in Eastern philosophy, played an exaggerated version of himself, prone to deep observations and impromptu fist fights.
And then, there was the viral moment in which he made millions go weak in the knees with a seemingly off-the-cuff statement. Asked by talk show host Stephen Colbert what he thinks happens when people die, Keanu took a moment and replied, “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.” The internet gasped in unison. “Keanu could easily lift Mjolnir,” one fan wrote in response to the viral video.
A few weeks later, during a surprise appearance at a gaming convention, Keanu once again captured the hearts of the audience, when he declared, “You’re breathtaking. You’re all breathtaking.” This particular incident returned to embarrass him when during the filming of the third Bill & Ted movie, one person aware that the actor would be driving in front of her house on his way to set, put up a banner that read, “You’re breathtaking.” Sure enough, when Keanu saw it, he stopped and wrote a little message on the banner. “You’re breathtaking,” he scribbled underneath the original message, and signed the banner as well. And as if that wasn’t enough, he posed for a photograph with the homeowner too.
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