Skip to main content
Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Perhaps all the jokes about Keanu Reeves not being able to show much emotion in his acting are finally over, because he’s proven himself as a durable actor for two generations. We’ve all realized the empathy he’s placed into his characters are more than a little autobiographical when you learn about Reeves’ tragic life.

Despite his own personal upheavals, he doesn’t quite look his age. He’s older than you think (proving time moves far too fast), and his acting career has been more extensive than you probably remember.

Take a few minutes to reanalyze Reeves’ acting career and why he’s still bankable at the box office.

Reeves is truly a man of the world

A few of you may not know Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon, but ultimately considers his citizenship Canadian. At the same time, his ancestry comes from China, Hawaii, England, Ireland, and Portugal. His education was ultimately one of assimilating considerable international culture.

Some sources point out he’s had more connection to significant parts of the world than just about any actor. This gives a whole new light to his acting approach, especially when you consider he was taught English manners as a kid. It may explain why he’s sometimes considered a “blank page” in his acting, even if there’s a lot going on under the surface.

With these reference points in mind, it makes analyzing his film career a little more interesting. However, you might feel old when you recall what year he started acting.

From the stage to screen

Only young Broadway actors start on the stage first before often transitioning to the big screen. Reeves did the same, though not on Broadway. His acting on the stage was in Canada before making a trek to L.A. in the early 1980s to break into TV and film.

He managed to land a part in a Canadian short film called One Step Away in 1985. This was an ironic title, because he was truly only steps away from taking on larger roles. By 1986, he was co-starring in the teen crime drama River’s Edge.

After appearing in several teen dramas, he ended up in one very adult one: Dangerous Liaisons in 1988. Starring in teen dramas no long made sense anyway considering he was in his early 20s by then. Yet, his next film was a big hit with the teen crowd.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ to ‘The Matrix’

A lot of Reeves fans think 1989 was his breakthrough year if you consider the Bill & Ted movie franchise a cinematic watershed. Any teenager from the era loved the first film, and it made Reeves a superstar. Still, he wasn’t going to be stuck in teen/stoner comedies.

He struck up a close friendship with the legendary River Phoenix and starred with him in 1992’s My Private Idaho. Twitter users still tweet tributes to the Reeves/Phoenix partnership, including their acting chemistry.

From there, Reeves did everything from Shakespeare adaptations, intense action films (Speed), to romantic comedies. If you consider The Matrix trilogy the holy trinity of Reeves’ acting career, he’d argue we haven’t seen everything yet.

Honing in on 100 films

Take a look at Reeves’ entire filmography, and you’ll see he’s close to making his 100th film. It’ll also be close to 35 years since he officially became an actor in Hollywood. Being a reportedly nice guy is undoubtedly one reason for his longevity.

Of course, this retrospective means he isn’t young anymore. Reeves will be 55 next September 2, albeit passing for someone in his early 30s.

No doubt it’s why he’s continuing to star in many varied films of practically every genre. With his John Wick franchise being the most popular right now, he’s also still ripe for parody on social media, which is always part of the game.

Staying with sci-fi

Critics still dog Reeves’ acting as a bit wooden, despite truly helping for certain types of roles. In sci-fi, it’s especially useful considering we can’t think of anyone else in the role of straight-faced Neo.

With a similar Reeves film soon coming out called Replicas, we can see he’s far from done in this genre. Nevertheless, he’s proven he can act admirably in any film category.

Maybe he’ll get the comedy test again if the third Bill & Ted movie is ever made before he turns 60.