Keanu Reeves Nearly Missed Out on the Role He Was Born to Play

Some Hollywood stars might lack the self-awareness of their own image. Then again, most stars aren’t Keanu Reeves. The John Wick actor has played a lot of action heroes over the years. But he almost lost the opportunity to play one critical role, one only he could have possibly pulled off.

Keanu Reeves at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Keanu Reeves at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art | JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP via Getty Images

Keanu Reeves has played a lot of tough, powerful roles

Despite breaking out in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Reeves is probably best known for his action movie roles. In the 1990s, he starred opposite Patrick Swayze in Point Break, led Speed to runaway success, and showed audiences how to enter The Matrix.

But perhaps Reeves’ most famous role didn’t start until 2014. That’s when the actor headlined director Chad Stahelski’s high-octane action thriller John Wick. As an assassin drawn back into a criminal underworld, Reeves delivers his most compelling action hero yet. 

The John Wick series has only gotten more popular over time. Sequels in 2017 and 2019 have earned nearly double at the box office as their respective predecessors. No wonder Reeves is set to reprise the role in at least two more installments, with no end yet in sight.

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But the actor almost missed his chance to cameo in ‘Keanu’

Audiences might mostly associate Reeves with action thrillers. But one of his most unexpected roles came in 2016 comedy Keanu. The movie stars Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key as they search for the titular character, a lost kitten. During a dream sequence, Reeves himself provides the voice for Keanu in a scene parodying The Matrix.

But according to Collider, miscommunication almost prevented Reeves from making an appearance at all. As the story goes, the actor’s management rejected the project without telling him. And it wasn’t until Reeves saw the Keanu trailer that he reached out about getting involved. So the actor nearly missed out on the movie bearing his name.

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Reeves is about to reprise his two most iconic roles in the same year

Reeves’ surprise role in Keanu, of course, feels perfectly in line with his resurgence in popularity over the past few years. In 2019, the actor returned as John Wick but also made unforgettable appearances in Toy Story 4 and Netflix comedy Always Be My Maybe.

After starring in 2020’s Bill and Ted Face the Music, he’s returning to another fan-favorite series in 2022. The very same year John Wick: Chapter 4 hits theaters, Reeves will once again play Thomas Anderson aka Neo in The Matrix 4. He last appeared in The Matrix Revolutions in 2003.