Keanu Charles Reeves was born September 2, 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon, to Samuel Nowlin Reeves (half-Hawaiian, half-Chinese) and Patric Taylor (English). After his birth they moved to Australia for a year where his first sister Kim was born in 1966. A second (half) sister, Karina, was born in 1976. Keanu (Key-ah-nu) means "cool breeze over the mountains" in Hawaiian. After their divorce, Patric and Samuel went their separate ways: Patric and the two kids to New York City, and Samuel to Hawaii. Keanu visited his father in Hawaii on occasion until he was thirteen. That was the last time Keanu saw him. Samuel was sentenced in 1994 to ten years in prison for drug possession. He was paroled in mid-1996. They do not maintain contact with each other.
In New York, Patric met and married director Paul Aaron. They moved to Toronto, and took up Canadian citizenship (which Keanu still retains), but split up less than a year later. Keanu attended Jesse Ketchum Public School in Toronto from kindergarten through the eighth grade, and attended four high schools (including De La Salle College and the Toronto School for the Performing Arts) before dropping out completely at age 17. He played high school hockey on the side and was once named the team MVP. It was also in Toronto that Reeves made his professional debut on a local TV show.
Keanu took on lots of different jobs, including sharpening skates at an ice rink shop, landscaping, and making pasta. Then came some stage work (most notably the homoerotic Wolfboy in 1984, his professional stage debut) and some bit parts on TV. His motion picture debut was in Dream To Believe in Canada but it was the 1986 TV movie Under the Influence that earned him some attention.
Reeves first garnered attention as the baby-faced stoner in the factual film "River's Edge" (1987). Following that with a couple of teen-themed efforts of "Permanent Record" and "The Prince of Pennsylvania" (both 1988), Reeves attempted to broaden his roles by playing a lovestruck music teacher in the drama "Dangerous Liaisons" (also 1988). The following year, however, director Stephen Herek cast him for his career making role as Theodore Logan, the Southern California surfer dude who time travels with his pal, in the amusing "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure". Playing off co-star Alex Winter's Bill, Reeves delivered a such a convincing performance that it typecast the actor as the dim-wit with the halting delivery. Unfortunately he followed that up with similar type parts in "Parenthood" (1989) and "I Love You to Death" (1990). When he tried to assume more serious roles, like the earnest undercover agent in "Point Blank" (1991), audiences and reviewers were reluctant to accept him.
Keanu began alternating between big budget Hollywood flicks like Bram Stoker's Dracula, Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing, and offbeat fare such as Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha, none of which made much impression at the box office. He played hustler Scott Favor in My Own Private Idaho and once again the lovable goofball Ted in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. And that's before taking on such diverse films as Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (1992).
He played an action hero in the bomb-on-a-bus thriller "Speed" (1994), which raised his box-office standing significantly. Rather than capitalize on this newfound status, though, Reeves surprised all (and reportedly turned down a role in "Heat") by heading to Winnipeg and undertaking one of the stage's most demanding roles -- "Hamlet". The reviews were less than kind.
Following a two-year absence, Reeves returned to action mode as Neo, a gifted computer hacker who is recruited by mysterious figures and introduced to "The Matrix" (1999). After the phenomenal box-office success of this stylishly confusing sci-fi thriller, Reeves was back in demand and the actor kept busy with several projects before undertaking back-to-back sequels to "The Matrix".
Reeves returned to science fiction for “A Scanner Darkly” (2006), about a dystopian future riddled with intense police surveillance and an epidemic of drug addiction. In 2008, Reeves returned to again play against type as a corrupt L.A. cop whose investigative methods put him in the line of fire from his superiors and other double-dealing cops. The film failed to impress critics, but it enjoyed a solid opening weekend at the box office.