cLike John Wick, the action saga anti-hero he plays for the fourth time, Canadian superstar Keanu Reeves has suffered tragic losses. But he was able to go through the pain and believe in love again
Keanu Reeves: the meaning of his name
when he talks to you, Keanu Reeves it gives off that “light breeze that rises from the sea to the mountains” which is the meaning of its name in Hawaiian dialect. A deep inner calm veiled in melancholy and dotted with irony that the Canadian actor, born in Beirut to an English mother and a Hawaiian father, has reached today, on the threshold of 60, after a youth as an enfant terrible and an adult life traversed by dramatic losses.
The death of friends and girlfriend
On Halloween night in 1993, one of his closest friends died of an overdose. River Phoenixwith whom he had starred in the cult I will love you until I kill you by Lawrence Kasdan And Beautiful and damned by Gus Van Sant. On Christmas Eve 1999 (the year of global success of matrix) girlfriend Jennifer Syme gives birth to Ava Archer, but the baby was born already dead from a heart defect. The two can’t stand the pain, they separate after a while; but they remain bound by a deep love and in 2001 they get closer again. Until, on the night of April 1st, Keanu also loses Jennifer, who dies in a car accident returning from a party at Marilyn Manson’s house. It is perhaps also for this reason that Keanu, one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars, cultivates extreme secrecy about his private life.
Keanu Reeves in John Wick 4 hunted by killers
When I meet him to talk about John Wick 4, now in the cinema, is very generous in telling his new film, but equally shy about the rest. The epic story of the former hitman who returns to business to avenge the killing of his dog – the last gift from his recently deceased wife – by the son of a crime boss, began in 2014 and with the first 3 chapters he grossed over 573 million dollars, making Reeves an icon of action cinema. At the beginning of the fourth installment of the saga directed by Chad Stahelski, John Wick is a walking dead: the Great Table, a cartel of super villains, has placed a huge price on his head. All he has to do is try to survive, hunted by contract killers and by a new enemy, the Marquis of Gramont (played by Bill Skarsgård).
An anti-hero between judo, jujitsu, swords and guns
«The plot takes us away from New York, where the previous films are set: in Berlin and Paris, Jordan and Japan. There are at least 15 spectacular action sequences, including a mad chase through the streets of the French capital,” says Reeves, who shoots most of the fight scenes without a stunt double, including judo, jujitsu, swords and guns. “I admire John Wick’s determination to never give up. It gives importance to values such as honor and sacrifice: for this, and why most of the film is set in JapanI was inspired by Zatoichi, the blind hero born from the pen of Kan Shimozawa and who became the protagonist of films and TV series».
An iron will
I am reminded of the description of John Wick given by his first enemy: “John wasn’t exactly the Boogeyman, he was the one you sent to kill the fucking Boogeyman. John is pure concentration, total commitment, iron will.” When I remind her of it, Keanu smiles: «Whatever happens, don’t expect a happy ending. He has killed hundreds of people, certainly he will not spend his old age sitting in an armchair in front of the fireplace. After the death of his beloved wife, at the beginning of the saga, he knows that he will never be a normal person again… ». Impossible not to think of the analogy between character and interpreter, especially when I ask Reeves what John Wick’s life motto could be. “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up,” he replies without hesitation.
Keanu’s motto: “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, but how many you get back up”
“Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi always told his players that.” Even Keanu – more or less consciously – has done it in the last 20 years. He defines himself as a spiritual person «thanks to Little Buddha by Bernardo Bertolucci, which I played at the age of 29. Before shooting, I took a trip to Kathmandu: I learned to meditate from Buddhist monks. He helped me discover aspects of myself that I didn’t know, to perceive me in relation to others. I learned to identify, face and overcome my fears: only in this way can one grow and learn to appreciate the gift of life”.
Alexa Grant, the new partner
He does not say it, due to the extreme confidentiality mentioned above, but in what in the US they call “Keanassaince” (the rebirth of Keanu) a fundamental role was played by his new partner, the 50-year-old artist Alexandra Grant. They met in 2011, they first became colleagues, collaborating on the books Ode to Happiness And Shadows – texts by him, illustrations by her – e founding the publishing house X Artists Booksthen friends. Only in 2019 did they formalize their relationship, arriving hand in hand at the LACMA Art + Film Gala in Los Angeles. Since then, sipped red carpets, sporadic paparazzi, practically non-existent statements. In a very rare interview with Vogue, Alexandra said that as soon as the news of the relationship had spread, she was called from her entire phone book. And she said to herself: «What positive can come of it?».
Keanu amid criticism
There was no shortage of criticism: she’s not beautiful enough for him, with that white hair she looks older… and the whole body shaming catalogue. Not surprisingly, a guest on TV at Drew Barrymore Show, keanu said: “If you love someone, you have to fight”. They do it by defending their privacy and only appearing in public when needed, such as at the premiere of John Wick 4 in Austin, Texas. We are already working on the fifth chapter, also directed by Chad Stahelski. «If the set is a family, for me Chad always occupies the seat at the head of the table, ever since he was my stuntman in matrix: we spend hours talking about movies, comics, martial arts and the Hagakure, the samurai code» says Keanu. “Then we’ll see the spin-off film Dancer with Ana de Armas, in which I will make a cameo, and the prequel series The Continentalwhere it will be Mel Gibson, one of my favorite colleagues». Do you ever take away a memory from the “house” of the set? «I have Neo’s coat from the first one matrix and the lighter and the watch of Constantine. I had the jacket worn by Beautiful and damned, then I gave it to a super fan friend of Gus Van Sant. I really wanted the surfboard of Point Break, but was sold for charity. From John Wick I’ve got a jacket and tie, which I’m wearing even now!».