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Keanu Reeves is famous for many reasons. What he might lack in classical acting ability, he makes up for in charisma and screen presence.

After all, for most of his 35-year career in Hollywood, he has been a leading man. Since his early days in teen comedies to his action hero days late-career renaissance, Reeves is a perennial crowd-pleaser. This doesn’t stop when cameras aren’t on, either.

He’s built a reputation for being one of the nicest celebrities on the planet. He even spoke about this with Vanity Fair.

Keanu Reeves has had a steady rise to fame

Reeves started out doing bit work on television. He made his debut in the mid-1980s on Hangin’ In as an unnamed character and quickly snowballed from there.

By 1989, he was an up-and-coming leading man, with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure causing his career to erupt. From there, Reeves became one of the most marketable stars on the planet. 

From period pieces like Bram Stoker’s Dracula to the Shakespearean Much Ado About Nothing, Reeves wasn’t pigeon-holed to any genre. Despite this, most of his successful films were action-oriented.

Keanu Reeves at 'The Bad Batch' premiere
Keanu Reeves at ‘The Bad Batch’ premiere | Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

From Point Break to Speed, Reeves was a younger star with box office appeal that could only be rivaled by Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

In 1999, however, Reeves got the role that would change his career forever. The Matrix was a cultural phenomenon that propelled his status even further. It changed action movies forever with groundbreaking special effects and mythology typically reserved for books and comics.

Since then, Reeves has had his ups and downs, but he proved that he still had it when John Wick gave him another renaissance. He remains one of the biggest stars in Hollywood

Despite all of this success, however, Reeves’s reputation as a kind-hearted man behind the scenes may be his most impressive feat. 

A meme of kindness

Stories of Reeves’s kindness have been around as long as he’s been famous. While many actors have reputations as prima-donnas who won’t take time to help a person in need, the internet is ablaze with stories of Reeves doing things as simple as giving up a seat or assisting a person on the street. This hasn’t gone unnoticed. 

His kindness has become a meme unto itself. In a 2019 piece for the New Yorker, Naomi Fry mused about the leading man’s reputation.

The image of him that emerges from these anecdotes is of a considerate man who is aware of his status as a celebrity but doesn’t take advantage of it, and who is generous but careful with his presence… 

If only more of us could learn to adopt Reeves’s attitude in our own lives. It’s O.K. to take a pause sometimes, to not engage, to let the world separate from you a little bit, he assures us. Just watch me. (Per The New Yorker)

It’s true. In a world where negative publicity gets more clicks, views, and reads, Reeves’s off-the-camera life is as inspiring as it is tragic. Reeves opened up about this in an interview with Vanity Fair. 

Keanu Reeves weighs in on his reputation


Keanu Reeves Gave Up $40 Million From ‘Matrix’ Sequels to Thank Production Team

Reeves isn’t performative in his good works. When asked about them, he often gives short answers that imply that he is uncomfortable talking about himself.

This was on full display in the Vanity Fair interview. According to Reeves, however, he doesn’t want praise for his good deeds. All he wants is to make a positive impact. 

“I don’t think of myself as a role model or anything like that,” said Reeves, growing uncomfortable again. “If people have had any impact from however they interact with me—in terms of entertainment or in real life or on social media—I just hope it’s been positive.”

He’s done so in more ways than one. A lot can be said about his acting abilities and star power, but Reeves shows that fame doesn’t have to be a cautionary tale of destruction. Whether on screen or out on the street, sometimes someone’s impact is as simple as their kindest deeds.