Keanu Reeves’ First Name is Pronounced “Kay-ah-noo” Not “Key-ah-noo”

Today I found out Keanu Reeves’ first name is pronounced “Kay-ah-noo”, not “Key-ah-Noo”.

That isn’t the only misconception surrounding his name. The name itself means “the coolness”, but is often incorrectly said to mean “cool breeze over the mountains”.

Reeves’ was named after his uncle Henry Keanu Reeves. In Keanu Reeves’ early days in Hollywood, his agent thought his name was too exotic and in his early films he is often credited as K.C. Reeves (his middle name is Charles).

Bonus Facts:

  • Reeves’ estranged father earned his GED in prison in Hawaii. He was in jail for selling heroin at the airport. His father left his mother when Keanu was 3 years old.
  • Kim Reeves, Keanu’s only full sister, was born in Australia and has been battling leukemia since her first diagnosis in the late 1990s.
  • In 1999, Reeves’ girlfriend, Jennifer Syme, gave birth to a stillborn daughter just a few weeks before the due date. In 2001, Jennifer was killed in a car accident, having smashed into three parked cars driving home from a party at Marilyn Manson’s house.
  • In 1991, Reeves best friend, outside of his dying sister, actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose.
  • Besides Reeves’ father (Samuel Nowlin Reeves, a geologist), his mother, who was once a stripper and is now a designer, has also been married to a Broadway and Hollywood director (Paul Aaron); a rock promoter (Robert Miller); a hairdresser (Jack Bond); and two others (for six total marriages).
  • Reeves’ attended five different high schools in five years, including getting expelled from one. In his own words, he got expelled because: “I was greasy and running around a lot. I was just a little too rambunctious and shot my mouth off once too often. I was not generally the most well-oiled machine in the school. I was just getting in their way, I guess.” He eventually attended an anarchistic free school “Avondale Alternative” which allowed him to act while continuing to go to school. He later dropped out and didn’t ever get a high school diploma.
  • Throughout high school, what he was best at was hockey, having been fairly poor at academics partly because of dyslexia. His primary position in hockey was goalie. He was so good he was named MVP and nicknamed “The Wall”. His dream, at that time, was to play hockey in the Olympics and hopefully professionally. He ended up having to quit hockey due to an injury. His hockey experience did help him land his first movie role in the hockey film Youngblood.
  • Reeves once revealed in an interview that he used to have frequent nightmares where he would die and on his tombstone it said: “He played Ted”, referring to his role in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the sequel to that film.
  • Reeves’ famously turned down a role opposite Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino in the movie Heat to pursue the leading role in the Manitoba Theatre Centre production of Hamlet. Roger Lewis, the Sunday Times critic, wrote, “He quite embodied the innocence, the splendid fury, the animal grace of the leaps and bounds, the emotional violence, that form the Prince of Denmark…He is one of the top three Hamlets I have seen, for a simple reason: he *is* Hamlet.”
  • In Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the time machine was originally supposed to be a 1969 Chevy van, but this was changed as they felt it was too close to Back to the Future’s DeLorean. They picked a phone booth inspired by the box-shaped TARDIS time machine from Doctor Who.
  • There was actually supposed to be a Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure 3. This was eventually scrapped, but you can still go watch the movie in its slightly modified form, Bio-Dome, starring Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin. Large portions of the script and much of the storyline were adapted for that movie.
  • Along with acting, Reeves also played bass guitar in the grunge band Dogstar, in the 1990s, and more recently in the band Becky. The former band was apparently huge in Japan, though more for Keanu than for that actual band. “In Japan, if Keanu scratched his head, they screamed. If he went to tie a shoelace they fainted,” said drummer Robert Mailhouse.
  • Keanu Reeves was born in Lebanon. His mother is English and his father is an American with very mixed heritage (English, Hawaiian, Chinese, and Portuguese).
  • Reeves has citizenship in the United States through his father; in Canada by naturalization; and in Britain by his mother. Given that he grew up in Canada, he considers himself Canadian.
  • Keanu Reeves donated about 75 million dollars from his Matrix earnings to the costume and special effects teams who worked on the films.
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