Unless you have lived under a rock for the past 20+ years, it’s safe to say that you know who Keanu Reeves is. He has played many iconic roles, such as Ted in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, Johnny Utah in “Point Break”, Jack in “Speed”, Neo in “The Matrix”, or John Wick in his latest movie “John Wick”.
It’s also safe to say that Keanu Reeve’s is one of the internet’s most beloved celebrities. Notoriously private, a little bit shy, a notable face in the meme world (we all know sad Keanu eating a sandwich on the bench), and most impressively, a generous philanthropist, he is, quite understandably, considered one of the nicest movie stars in Hollywood.
Keanu Reeves was born in 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon. His mother was English, and his father Hawaiian-American. Keanu’s father, who earned his GED while in prison in Hawaii for selling heroin, abandoned his family when Keanu was just three years old.
As his mom married and remarried, Keanu moved around the world a lot. He lived in Sydney, Australia and New York City before his family eventually settled in Toronto. He attended four different high schools and he excelled as a hockey player. Reeves’s dream was to play professional hockey, but an injury forced him to turn to his other passion – acting.
Keanu’s first major role was in “Youngblood”. Soon after, he moved to Los Angeles and had his first big break in “River’s Edge”. Next came “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, “Point Break”, “My Own Private Idaho”, “Speed”, “A Walk in the Clouds”, “The Devil’s Advocate”, “The Replacements”, and then the pinnacle of his career, “The Matrix” franchise.
And yet, his fame never got to him. He continued to remain an approachable, down-to-earth, incredibly generous guy.
Here are a few interesting facts about Keanu’s generosity:
He donates his time and money to charity
Reeves runs a private foundation that supports cancer research and children’s hospitals. He doesn’t take credit for any of it though. “I have a private foundation that’s been running for five or six years, and it helps aid a couple of children’s hospitals and cancer research. I don’t like to attach my name to it, I just let the foundation do what it does”, Keanu told Ladies Home Journal (via Snopes).
Keanu’s sister was diagnosed with leukemia in the ’90s. He became her primary caretaker and spent more than $5 million dollars to help her in her fight against the disease. Eventually, her cancer went into remission. His foundation is named after her.
In 2008, he participated in a Stand Up to Cancer telethon, encouraging fans to become callers, donors and participants in the efforts to heal cancer.
Not only that, but Reeves also donated to SCORE (Spinal Cord Opportunities for Rehabilitation Endowment), a charity founded by a UCLA hockey player who severely injured his spine during one of the games. Reeves, who was known as “The Wall” during high school, for his excellent goal defense, became part of a celebrity fundraiser for SCORE, and stopped pucks from celebrities such as Cuba Gooding Jr., D.B. Sweeney, Alan Thicke, and Rachel Blanchard of Clueless.
He is very generous with the people he works with
According to The Wall Street Journal, Keanu gave up part of his claim to a share of the profits of the Matrix movies in order to pay the special effects and costume departments more generously . An executive who spoke with The Wall Street Journal commented: “He felt that they were the ones who made the movie and that they should participate.” Reeves’ compensation for them was in the millions. It’s estimated that he gave away anything from $75 million to $100 million.
He also gave the entire stunt team on the “Matrix” sequels Harley Davidson motorcycles.
His generosity towards didn’t end there though. A few years back, Reddit user bo2dd2 shared what it was like to work with Keanu on the set of Chain Reaction.
Every day for the last few weeks of filming, Keanu treated the stage hands and grunt workers (including myself) by taking us out for free breakfast and lunch. He was genuinely a very nice guy to work with.
Since then, I’ve worked on about 30 different sets and have never met an actor as generous and friendly as him.
Most actors I’ve seen and worked with are total douches who always think they are better than us. Keanu on the other hand, at the very least, was socially approachable and definitely kindhearted.
That was one example (that involved me directly), but (on the same set), I remember him going out of his way to give my friend a ride to the repair shop to pick up his car.
The user added:
A family friend builds movie sets, doesn’t design, is one of the poor dudes that just builds. Anyways, he worked on the set for The Matrix and Keanu heard about family trouble he was having and gave him a $20,000 Christmas bonus to help him out.
He also was one of the only people on the set that genuinely wanted to know peoples names, would say ‘hello’ and mean it, and would talk to people as they were his peers and not below him.
I’ve never heard anyone say Keanu is douche, seems like the nicest person in Hollywood.
He cuts his pay so that other actors can be hired
In 1997, when Reeves learned that the budget for the movie The Devil’s Advocate wasn’t sufficient for hiring Al Pacino, he took a sizable pay cut so that Pacino could be in the movie.
In 2000, in the comedy The Replacements, the same thing happened in order to allow actor Gene Hackman to also star in it. Later, commented to the New York Post “I got to have some really great acting experiences this past year, like working with Mr. Hackman.”
In an interview with Hello magazine, he said “Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I have already made for the next few centuries.”
He is just a genuinely nice guy
Keanu is known for doing all kinds of nice things, such as giving up his seat on public transport for a woman who was standing, or driving a woman home, 50 miles out of his way, because her car broke down, or sharing drinks, snacks and stories with a homeless man, or buying his mom a house.
Keanu is a man who has a genuinely generous spirit, and despite rocketing to fame, he is very grounded and not at all focused on money. He told Hollywood.com, “Money doesn’t mean anything to me. I’ve made a lot of money but I want to enjoy life and not stress myself building my bank account.” In another interview with the New York Post, he also said “I guess I don’t connect the enjoyment and the money. I work on a part and hopefully realize a part, and make good films. Some of the successes I’ve had I’m grateful for, because it creates other opportunities. [The way] I look at it is I get to act again.”