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If you ever saw Keanu Reeves in real life, you could be forgiven for saying, “Whoa!” At this point, Reeves must be used to it. After starring in popular movies like Speed, The Matrix, John Wick and many more, Reeves is a bona fide celebrity. The first time anyone ever recognized him, though, was a special experience for him. 

Keanu Reeves signing
Keanu Reeves | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Reeves shared this story at the 2003 press junket for Something’s Gotta Give. In the film he plays the younger lover of Diane Keaton’s charactet.

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“In terms of being on the street, it’s important to me to be able to move in the world and luckily I can,” Reeves said. “There’s certain moments in time, like sometimes before a premiere, it seems to intensify in terms of people following you and taking your pictures as you walk out of your car, which is a drag.”

The first movie anyone recognized Keanu Reeves in

By 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Reeves became a household name. Hits like Parenthood, Point Break, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Speed followed. These days there are new fans of those movies born every day, along with more recent Matrix, The Lake House, John Wick and Constantine fans. 

Before Bill & Ted, Reeves was already working for five years in TV movies and indie films. It was for an acclaimed indie that Reeves got his first star sighting. 

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves | Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

“The thing that just popped into my head, I remember one time I was going to the cinema in Westwood, Los Angeles,” Reeves said. “I went into an ice cream store with a friend of mine. It was a hot summer day going to the movies. The guy gave us our ice cream, I went to pay and he said, ‘No, man.’ I was like, ‘What?’ He was like, ‘River’s Edge.’” 

‘River’s Edge’ made a major impression 

The 1986 drama River’s Edge stars Reeves as Matt, a teenager whose friend embroils him in his murder plot. John (Daniel Roebuck) killed his girlfriend Jamie (Danyi Deats) and shows Matt the body at the river’s edge. During the intense drama, Matt must come to terms with his classmates, and his volatile younger brother (Joshua John Miller). 

River's Edge
River’s Edge | Island Pictures/Getty Images

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The film was a who’s who of future stars including Crispin Glover and Ione Skye. Already established Dennis Hopper plays a marijuana dealer. That ice cream clerk was one of many who would discover River’s Edge.

“I was like whoa, okay, yeah, River’s Edge,” Reeves continued. “He gave us the ice cream for free. I said, ‘You sure, man?’ He goes, ‘River’s Edge!’ I said, ‘Yeah, River’s Edge.’”