Keanu Reeves Was Never the Same After the Tragic Deaths of His Daughter and Girlfriend

Keanu Reeves isn’t like most other Hollywood types, and his fans love him for it.

The 55-year-old Canadian actor has an impressive list of professional accomplishments that span several decades. He’s best known for playing action heroes intent on saving the world.

However, the actor’s personal life is much more complicated than movies with happy endings. Reeves experienced extreme personal tragedies that left him forever changed, including the tragic deaths of his daughter and the woman he loved.

Keanu Reeves had an early knack for acting

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Reeves described himself as a “private kid” who moved around a lot during childhood, Rolling Stone reported. He was born in Beirut, Lebanon, but spent much of his childhood in Canada, where he spent some years considering a career as a professional hockey player before ultimately deciding to become an actor. His father left the family when Reeves was three years old.

He became a correspondent for the TV show Going Great and later made his television debut in the series Hangin’ In. He worked on the made for TV movies Babes in Toyland before being cast in his first Hollywood production, Youngblood (1986). As Reeves gained notoriety, he started getting cast in better roles, which culminated in some of his best-known work from the 90s.

Fans are best acquainted with Reeves’s work in Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), Point Break (1991), and Speed (1994). But just after his breakout role depicting Neo in The Matrix (1999), tragedy struck.

The actor lost his daughter and girlfriend within 18 months

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves | Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

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The actor does an excellent job of staying out of the spotlight and keeping his personal life private. However, when Reeves experienced a personal tragedy, his fans were very aware of what happened.

Reeves met director David Lynch’s assistant Jennifer Syme and “fell instantly in love,” according to Higher Perspectives. Syme gave birth the couple’s daughter Ava Archer Syme-Reeves on Dec. 24, 1999. Unfortunately, the baby was stillborn.

This tragic life event came just five years after Reeves’s best friend and fellow actor River Phoenix died from a drug overdose. And that wasn’t the last emotional hardship for Reeves.

Reeves and Syme broke up several weeks after their baby died. But then 18 months later, Syme was killed in a car accident on April 21, 2001 after leaving a party at Marilyn Manson’s house.

Keanu Reeves has a unique outlook on death

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves | Karwai Tang/WireImage

The Matrix star has enough personal experience with death to form a few opinions on the subject.

“Grief changes shape, but it never ends,” he told Parade in 2006. “People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, ‘It’s gone, and I’m better.’ They’re wrong. When the people you love are gone, you’re alone.”

He continued: “I miss being a part of their lives and them being part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here—what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be.”

But the loss has helped Reeves grow and, as he says, to understand the importance of making the most of life. “Much of my appreciation of life has come through loss,” he said. “Life is precious. It’s worthwhile.”

Reeves has never married or had any children. He’s currently rumored to be dating artist Alexandra Grant.