Keanu Reeves Had Paralysis During ‘The Matrix,’ Which Impacted His Action Scenes

It’s Keanu Reeves‘s world, and we’re all just living in it, whether it’s the happy shenanigans of the Bill and Ted movies or the dystopian future of the Matrix movies. Not everything the actor makes is great (no one bats 1000), but even if his movies fail, Reeves himself comes out of the ordeal OK. 

This is not just because of the calm, Zen-like manner in which he carries himself. It’s because Reeves has a reputation as one of the most decent men working in the movies. Even when something serious happens, like his injury on The Matrix, he carries it off with aplomb. 

We’re in a Keanu-ssance

Keanu Reeves attends the John Wick special screenings at Ham Yard Hotel
Keanu Reeves | Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for Lionsgate

Reeves has built up so much goodwill, it’s easy to forget that he’s had a few rough patches. He rose to prominence in the late 80s with his charismatic performances in The River’s Edge and particularly, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. F

or better or worse, that movie cemented his “aw shucks” good-guy image as an amiable guy who comes off as a bit of a doofus. Not for nothing was his catchphrase, “Whoa.” 

In the early 1990s, that image started to curdle. His one-dimensional turns in projects by major directors like Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola and Much Ado About Nothing by Kenneth Branagh were mocked, and for a while, it became hard to take him seriously.

The latter 90s were kinder to him, with the likes of Speed and The Matrix, where he leaned into his image as a shallow man and turned it to his advantage. 

Now, the actor has enjoyed a string of hits and well-received vehicles, from his voicing the motorcyclist Duke Caboom in Toy Story 4 to the John Wick movies. When even your role as a tumbleweed in a Spongebob SquarePants sequel is well-received, you’ve got it going on.

Reeves has even returned to Neo in the fourth Matrix movie, but it’s a story from the first Matrix movie that has generated some new attention. 

What happened on ‘The Matrix?’ 

According to a roundup of Keanu trivia by Collider, Reeves has suffered a spinal cord injury. The Collider article and an article by Business Insider don’t make it clear whether the injury came about because of the precarious stunt work. But, whatever the case, Reeves suffered a spinal cord injury that became acute enough that he was partially paralyzed.

That’s why you don’t see Reeves performing much in the way of kicks during the first movie. Neck surgery alleviated the issue and Reeves went on to appear in the sequels, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions. But he wasn’t the only one who got hurt. Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving did too. 

Even so, Reeves remained close with the stunt crew — so much so that, per Business Insider, the same crew returned to help Reeves for John Wick.  Daniel Bernhardt, Randall Duk Kim, director Chad Stahelski, and producer David Leitch all worked on The Matrix and reunited with Reeves for John Wick in 2014 

Keanu Reeves is and will be everywhere 


Keanu Reeves’s Favorite Movie Is Not ‘The Matrix,’ ‘Speed,’ or ‘John Wick’

Bill and Ted Face the Music was just released to a mostly positive reception, with the movie reuniting the title characters who can’t figure out how they write the song they know will ultimately unite the universe in harmony. The Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus reads, “As wholesomely goofy as its heroes, Bill and Ted Face the Music is a rare long-belated sequel that largely recaptures the franchise’s original charm/” 

In addition to the Matrix sequel, the fourth and fifth John Wick movies are also in the pipeline. Originally, Matrix 4 and John Wick 4 were scheduled to come out the same day, May 21. 2021, but that was before the pandemic reared its ugly head. Now, both movies have been pushed to 2022, but they’re still in close proximity, with Matrix 4 out April 1 and John Wick 4 out May 27. 

It’s a small Keanu world after all.