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Everyone loves Keanu Reeves. The successful actor is best known for roles such as Neo in “The Matrix” franchise, as well as for starring alongside Sandra Bullock in “Speed” (1994). Throughout his career, he’s built up a widely respected reputation — but his life as an actor almost never happened.

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Keanu Reeves landed his breakthrough role in ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’

When Keanu Reeves began acting, he wasn’t handed roles immediately. It required spending several years in the industry before finally landing something that would put his name out there. His breakthrough role came to him in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” a 1989 science fiction comedy in which Reeves portrayed Ted who, alongside his friend Bill, traveled through time to learn about history for a school project.

Reeves’ first major role has ended up carrying through his career; he starred in a spinoff of the movie in 1991 and got back into character for a second spinoff in 2020.

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Reeves’ name almost prevented him from having a career

These days, Reeves is a household name. But his name is actually what caused some issues in the acting scene back when he was first starting out. Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon but raised in Canada, and according to Biography, his name comes from the Hawaiian meaning for “a cool breeze over the mountains.”

The name rolls off the tongue, but Hollywood producers didn’t think so. In a 1995 interview, Reeves revealed that casting agents were “hesitant” to offer him an audition became his name was hard to pronounce. He nearly changed his name just to try and make an acting career happen. “That was a terrible, terrible phase, which lasted about a month,” Reeves said. “[My name] had an ethnicity to it that they found was getting in the way… They said I had to change my name. And that freaked me out completely.”

Eventually, though, Reeves landed the audition for “Bill & Ted” and realized that he could have a career while still going by Keanu.

Reeves has starred alongside some other A-List celebrities, including Sandra Bullock

Reeves’ career has put him in touch with plenty of celebrities, and he’s made some close friendships through the years. He once revealed that his closest celebrity friend is actress Sandra Bullock, with whom he has starred in the movies “Speed” and “The Lake House” (2006).

Keanue Reeves and Sandra Bullock
Keanue Reeves and Sandra Bullock | John Shearer/WireImage

Keanu Reeves Once Said the Most Profound and Beautiful Thing About Death

Reeves revealed to Ellen DeGeneres that he had a “crush” on Bullock during filming. Still, the two never dated because they never realized that the other one had feelings. It turns out Bullock felt the same way, but both thought the other wasn’t interested.

Reeves is reprising his role in the “Matrix” franchise with “The Matrix 4,” which is set to be released in 2022. Filming initially began in February 2020 but was put on hold in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photos surfaced in June suggesting the movie had resumed filming.