Keanu Reeves has built a career on playing the tough guy. The evidence is there in his movie posters: the jet-black, slicked back hair; the cold and studied aloofness; the towering, imposing physique. The characters he plays aren’t evil so much as they’re hardened by evil. Mostly, they’re destined — typecast, really — to save the world.
Funny, because it seems like Reeves is, too.
For some time now, fans have been lobbying for Keanu Reeves — “the most wholesome person alive,” according to a petition with 165,000 signatures and counting — to be named TIME Magazine’s 2019 “Person of the Year.” The honorific would make sense: the Canadian actor’s almost otherworldly humanity has become something of an internet obsession.
It might have all been rebooted earlier this year when, during an interview on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, Reeves was asked what happens when we die. It’s an impossible question. A different actor might have named a final destination. A nihilist would have answered, simply, “Nothing.” Keanu Reeves, though, with all his finely tuned sensitivities, delivered a line that felt like an emotional clothesline: “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.”
Most recently, last Wednesday, Reeves surprise-visited a family at their home in Louisiana, after they welcomed him to their city — where he was shooting the “Bill & Ted” sequel — with a sign on their front lawn that read “you’re breathtaking.” (The sign referenced a viral moment in early June when Reeves used the same phrase to describe the crowd at a press conference.) Reeves autographed the sign, took photos with the family, and even hung out for a bit to chat.
In honour of Keanu Reeves’ seemingly superabundant kindness — and his genuine humility about it all — here are five moments that suggest this isn’t the first year the internet’s boyfriend has been an exceptional person.
After an emergency flight landing, he helped passengers get to their destination
In March of this year, Reeves was on a flight to Los Angeles when the flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Bakersfield. The plane landed safely, but people were confused about what to do.
Keanu, of course, being Keanu, stepped up to help people with travel arrangements.
Not only did he get passengers onto a bus to L.A. — because driving, he said, would be faster than flying — but on the ride there, he apparently entertained riders by reading out fun facts about Bakersfield.
When a not-yet-famous Octavia Spencer’s car broke down on a busy L.A. street, he helped her start it up again
When, early on in her career, the Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer moved from Alabama to Los Angeles, her car broke down on her way to one of her first auditions. She was stranded on one of L.A.’s busiest streets.
Nobody bothered to stop and help her — her car was quite dirty — until a man wearing sunglasses pulled up on a motorcycle. “Hey, do you need some help?” he asked. She recognized him instantly as Keanu Reeves.
Spencer sat in the front seat while Reeves pushed the car forward, in an effort to get it started up again. She made the audition on time.
He bought an ice cream cone just to get a receipt to autograph for a teen working at a movie theatre
In 2001, a 16-year-old kid was working the box office at a movie theatre in Sydney. It was a slow Wednesday morning and the theatre was mostly empty when, of all people, Keanu Reeves showed up to buy a ticket for Johnny Depp’s “From Hell.”
Starstruck, the kid — who is now a journalist at the website SB Nation — cleverly offered his employee discount, which would require Reeves’ signature. Reeves declines, confused: “I don’t work here,” he says. Embarrassed and out of an autograph, the kid charges him the regular price.
Minutes later, Reeves returns — ”I realized you probably wanted my autograph, so I signed this,” he says, handing the kid a receipt from the concession stand that he has signed the back of. He pivots, tosses an ice cream cone in the trash and goes to see his movie.
It turns out Reeves bought an ice cream cone he didn’t want, only to autograph the receipt paper for a 16-year-old kid.
On the set for “Chain Reaction,” he allegedly bought stage workers meals on a regular basis
In the 1990s, Keanu Reeves was starring opposite Morgan Freeman for the movie “Chain Reaction.”
As has often been rumoured to happen on Hollywood film sets, the stage hands and “grunt workers” were reportedly not being treated too well. One man, who anonymously revealed all of this on Reddit, said he had been working on set as an assistant prop designer when he experienced something completely alien to him.
Apparently, Keanu decided to routinely take the workers out for free breakfast and lunch. “Since then, I’ve worked on about 30 different sets and have never met an actor as generous and friendly as him,” the prop designer says.
For years, he’s had a secret foundation that helps children’s hospitals and cancer research
Very little is known about the 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, in spite of his long career in the spotlight. His life is in many ways inscrutable, and he can be as mysterious as the characters he plays.
One thing we know Reeves was doing in secret, until 2009 when he spoke to Ladies Home Journal, is that he has his own private foundation that helps children’s hospitals and cancer research. “I don’t like to attach my name to it,” Reeves revealed in the interview. “I just let the foundation do what it does.”
Cancer research is extremely expensive, and an article in The List reported that public efforts once found Reeves manning the phones at a Stand Up to Cancer telethon way back in 2008.
Bonus: because there are too many examples to pick from
Just for good measure,here’s a video of Reeves offering up his seat on the subway when he notices the woman next to him is carrying a large, heavy-looking bag.
Other legends of Keanu Reeves include: driving a random girl home, 50 miles out of his way, when her car broke down on an L.A. highway; hanging out on the side of a road with a homeless man in Hollywood; giving up some of his salary on movies because he thought special effects and costume teams deserved more.
There’s even a rumour that two women scaled a fence and knocked on his front door in the 1990s, and rather than calling the police for their trespassing, he invited them inside and offered them both a beer.
Come to think of it, in light of his resume, “Person of the Year” almost feels like a consolation prize.
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