Keanu Reeves Was Petrified of ‘Speed’ Action Scenes But Eventually Became ‘Addicted to the Adrenaline’

Keanu Reeves has appeared in some of the most popular films of the past several decades, from John Wick to The Matrix. Although Reeves is known these days as Hollywood’s nicest star, he has developed a reputation for being a tough-as-nails action hero.

Even in his 50s, Reeves is one of the movie industry’s most bankable stars — and it all began in 1994 when Reeves appeared in the hit action movie Speed. As believable as Reeves was in the role, a recent report reveals that Reeves was actually terrified of some of the film’s more high-octane scenes. 

Keanu Reeves started acting in the eighties

Reeves was born in Lebanon in 1964. Reeves spent his early years in a variety of different places, from Australia to Canada.

By the time he was a teenager, Reeves decided that he wanted to pursue a career in entertainment, and began acting in a series of Canadian television shows. Slowly but surely, Reeves built a career, and although many of his early roles were in lower-budget comedies or made-for-television movies, he gained the experience that he needed to get his foot in the door in Hollywood.

In 1989, Reeves had his first big breakout role, in the Ron Howard movie Parenthood. While it didn’t catapult Reeves to fame, it led to a series of other major roles in movies such as Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and My Own Private Idaho.

However, it wasn’t until 1994 that Reeves really hit the big time, when he appeared in the hit movie Speed, opposite Sandra Bullock. 

‘Speed’ was a breakthrough film for several stars

Keanu Reeves attends the premiere of Disney and Pixar's "Toy Story 4" on June 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Keanu Reeves | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

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Speed featured an all-star cast, including Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, and Jeff Daniels. The film’s premise was very simple, but action-packed: an insane man rigs a bus with a bomb.

As soon as the bus reaches the speed of fifty miles per hour, the bomb arms itself, and then if the bus drops below fifty miles per hour, the bomb will explode, killing everyone on the bus.

As Officer Jack Traven, Reeves was in the spotlight for the majority of the film, responsible for “selling” many of the film’s biggest action moments. When Speed was released, both critics and audiences took notice of Reeves, as well as his co-star, the fiesty Sandra Bullock.

His believable performance, as well as his intense mannerisms, made him a fan-favorite, and the movie is widely considered to be his big breakthrough into A-list status. 

Keanu Reeves was terrified of the stunts in ‘Speed’

Keanu Reeves might have made the jaw-dropping stunts in Speed look easy, but in actuality, he was terrified of some stunts that he was called upon to do. A 2019 report details how Reeves was actually at a low point when he began filming Speed, and that he was still grieving over the loss of his friend, River Phoenix. The report states that Reeves was very nervous prior to filming, and that he was worried about some of the more dangerous stunts — including one that required him to jump from a convertible onto a runaway bus. 

Rather than let his fear get the best of him, Reeves practiced the stunt offscreen until he was able to perfect it. When it came time to film the stunt, Reeves pulled it off effortlessly, earning the admiration and respect of director Jan de Bont, as well as the entire cast and crew. Reeves’ role in Speed might have been his first big action movie, but it certainly wouldn’t be his last. These days, Reeves is still known as one of Hollywood’s most reliable and beloved action heroes.