Reeves has developed a reputation as a pretty generous guy over the years, frequently choosing the artistic integrity of his projects over a huge payday. This short summary really tells most of the story, in a very sad way. (Even though Keanu does approve of the Sad Keanu meme.)
But Keanu fights on and continues to be one of the greatest celebrity philanthropists around.
He really does subscribe to the idea of all people being "excellent to each other".
He told Hello! Magazine in 2003: "Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I have already made for the next few centuries." Give or take a few hundred years. (It's true that Reeves has appeared in six movies that have grossed over $100 million, which isn't really a bad haul.)
1. The Devil's Advocate: When making The Devil's Advocate, Reeves agreed to take a big pay cut of a few million dollars (a few million dollars) so the producers could also afford to bring on Al Pacino. (He perhaps somewhat selfishly did have the fate of the movie itself in mind. One shudders to think of anyone else performing that climactic monologue other than Pacino. It wouldn't have quite the same zing with, say, Christopher Lambert in the role.)
2. The Replacements: He did the same thing on The Replacements, allowing producers to bring on board Gene Hackman by demanding less cash up front for himself. He actually took a 90% paycut.
3. The Matrix: But the real generous side of Keanu (that doesn't have to do with giving millions to charity) came out when he was making his back-end deal for the two Matrix sequels.
True, Reeves was paid $10 million up front to film the The Matrix and ended up earning $35 million total after the film became a huge hit. But still, when negotiating his profit-sharing deal for the two follow-up films, Reeves opted to hand over some of his points to the franchise's special effects and costume design teams. The total amount Reeves could have earned but chose to disburse to the crew instead comes, by some accounts, to over $75 million. He donated over $75 million to people he worked with because he thought they deserved it.
And in one personal account on Reddit, he helped out a family in need.
A family friend builds movie sets, doesn't design, is one of the poor dudes that just builds. Anyway, he worked on the set for the Matrix and Keanu heard about family trouble he was having and gave him a $20,000 Christmas bonus to help him out. He also was one of the only people on the set that genuinely wanted to know peoples names, would say hello and mean it, and would talk to people as they were his peers and not below him just because they were practically making nothing to build a set. I've never heard anyone say Keanu is douche, seems like the nicest person in Hollywood from a second hand experience.
Also of note? Reeves gave the entire stunt team behind the Matrix sequels Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Reeves suffered a surprising amount of injuries and accidents for a guy who continues to look good enough to put in films. (Well, except for maybe that beard...) Here's a quick rundown of some of his not-terribly-eventful brushes with death:
An avid motorcycle fan, Reeves has wiped the hell out on numerous occasions. (See the above clip from The Graham Norton Show to hear Reeves discussing his more notable wipeouts. Or, as he puts it, "I've come off the bike a few times.")
While on a "demon ride" (that means riding at night with no headlights) in Topanga Canyon, Reeves smashed into the side of a mountain. He was hospitalized for a week with broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. And if that doesn't sound painful enough for you, allegedly, one of the paramedics also dropped the stretcher as they were loading it into the ambulance.
Another motorcycle accident in 1996 broke his ankle and left him with a wide, curved scar on his right leg.
One of the motorcycle accidents also left him with veneers on all his teeth. He thinks it's from his face colliding with the handlebars. As one does.
Then there's the incident on the set of A Walk in the Clouds. The night before shooting a love scene, Reeves took a hockey puck to the face, requiring six stitches. And yes, he still shot the kissing scene the next day.
Why? Because come on. He's Keanu Reeves.
As a child, living in New Jersey, Reeves once had a terrifying encounter with a ghostly suit. In an interview with British tabloid The Sun, Reeves recalled: "I remember just staring at this suit which had no body or legs in it as it came into the room before disappearing. It was a double-breasted suit in white and I looked at my nanny, who was just as shocked as me. I just couldn't get back to sleep afterwards."
Upon finding out his Sun interviewer was Scottish, he added "My God, man, [The UK]'s full of ghosts! You gotta walk on the moors at a certain time." (Maybe Keanu had just rented "American Werewolf in London"?)
Reeves claims that now, even as an adult, he's still traumatized by the vision and that he still sees the figure in his dreams and nightmares.
Of course, it seems possible that he was just looking at a suit someone had hung up on the wall or something, right? Hard to imagine anything worse than being stuck on Earth in ghostly form for all eternity and still have to put on a suit every day. (Wait, what's the supernatural equivalent to Casual Friday?)
Keanu had a second supernatural experience years later, as an adult. While eating lunch with a lady friend in Austin, Texas, he suddenly spun around and noticed a ghost appearing behind him.
And again, no indication of how Keanu actually KNEW this was a ghost, instead of just a random person from Austin, Texas, who may or may not have looked like a supernatural entity.
Reeves spent part of his childhood in the Yorkville quarter of Toronto, a funky, bohemian kind of neighborhood comparable to the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco. His mother was, at the time, working with a well-known costume designer who would frequently have celebrities come over to the house to visit.
According to Keanu's childhood friend, Evan Williams (not related to the former Twitter president of the same name... probably), rock legend Alice Cooper was among the guests who would stop by the Reeves household during that time.
Williams also recalls a specific incident in which Cooper challenged the two young men to a little rug wrestling match, as would often happen when your cool mom is a costume designer.
Not one to go easy on young people, even in an amateur wrestling match, Alice Cooper eventually tied them into what Williams has referred to as "a human knot," not only beating them, but leaving them helpless in his wake.