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Daily Record (UK),
May 10, 2003
By John Beresford
Over the last three years, jinxed Matrix star Keanu Reeves has suffered more turmoil and personal heartache than most people do in a lifetime. As the actor says, money can’t buy you happiness
KEANU REEVES will take his place among the Hollywood elite this year. Two blockbuster Matrix sequels in six months are guaranteed to establish him once and for all as a major A-list player, with a pay cheque of more than dollars 100 million.
Yet Keanu is a million miles removed from the happy-go-lucky goof-ball who sprang to prominence in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
These days, the 38-year-old actor is most likely to be found lost in Buddhist prayer. He prays for his terminally ill sister, for his dead lover and child, for an end to a three-year curse which has taken him to the edge of despair.
Reeves has had to weather a series of devastating blows to his personal life, all the while juggling back-to-back filming of the two Matrix sequels, Reloaded and Revolutions.
It began in 2000 when the Speed star’s stunning girlfriend Jennifer Syme revealed she was pregnant with his first child.
He bought a house for his young family and a Jeep for Jennifer, so he would not have to worry about her and their baby’s safety on the busy Californian highways.
As the delighted couple, who met at a party for Keanu’s band Dogstar, awaited the birth, a routine scan revealed their baby had died in the womb. Doctors induced labour and the baby was stillborn on Christmas Eve, 2000.
Aptly, the shattered pair named their child Eve before she was buried in a simple ceremony at an LA cemetery.
The grief proved too much and Jennifer and Keanu’s relationship was damaged beyond repair. Jennifer became hooked on anti-depressants and recreational drugs to make her life more bearable.
Keanu, whose father Milo served time for cocaine dealing, did not approve but continued to offer support, sparking rumours they were getting back together. But any chance of reconciliation was dramatically snatched away.
In April, 2001, after a night out in LA with singer Marilyn Manson, Jennifer was killed when her Jeep careered out of control and ploughed into three parked cars, killing her instantly.
The shock halted pre-production on the Matrix sequels and took Keanu from the film set to his second funeral in 16 months. In Jennifer’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times, Syme’s family said she was survived by “the love of her life, Keanu Reeves”.
Police had found anti-depressant tablets in Jennifer’s wrecked vehicle and two rolled-up dollar bills covered in a white powder, suspected to be cocaine. She had not been wearing a seat belt.
DRAGGING himself from his grieving, Keanu flew back to Australia to begin the hectic back-to-back Matrix filming schedule.
In the Australian sunshine, he managed to make some sort of recovery and was linked to a string of new women including Rachael Jones, a Brit working at a radio station in Sydney, and Amanda De Cadenet, English ex-wife of Duran Duran guitarist John Taylor.
But the hand of fate was to intervene yet again, this time with the most important woman left in Keanu’s life – his sister, Kim.
The 36-year-old horse breeder had been diagnosed with leukaemia years before but her condition had taken a severe turn for the worse.
Keanu had helped raise Kim, two years his junior, after their parents’ marriage collapsed when he was seven. A family friend says: “He felt a responsibility to take care of her. Their dad was never around and his mother, who was a British showgirl, had to do everything. She was the sole breadwinner.
“Kim was Keanu’s baby sister. A bond was formed then and Kim is the driving force behind her brother’s career. She is his guardian angel, and she encouraged Keanu to leave his native Toronto to become an actor in Hollywood.”
In July last year, Keanu was told Kim’s condition had deteriorated. Again, he left filming on the Matrix sequels to be at his sister’s bedside.
He paid dollars 25,000 to take her and a friend on holiday to Capri. Then he postponed a flight back to Australia to fly his sister to France for pioneering treatment.
Keanu constantly travelled between Sydney and LA to keep up his vigil. The filming on the Matrix sequels complete, the Beirut-born star vowed to put other film projects on hold to take charge of Kim’s care.
He said: “It puts everything into perspective when you’re faced with a situation like this with a loved one. She was always there for me. I will always be there for her.”
Family friend Chris Fowler explains why. “She is the one woman who has always had Keanu’s unconditional love. The guy is knocking himself out with worry,” he says.
“He waits on her hand and foot, cooking meals, and even tidying the place up and preparing her medication for her. Keanu’s biggest fear is that he might be out of the country when Kim leaves us. That would be his worst nightmare.”
AWAY from his sister’s bedside, Keanu has focused totally on his role as cyber warrior Neo in the Matrix sequels. The already reclusive star has become a virtual hermit.
“Keanu seems a very sad figure,” a crew member said towards the end of filming. “He doesn’t mingle much with anybody and just turns up, works and goes back to his hotel.”
The tragic run of bad luck appeared to have seeped into Keanu’s working life with the news that actress Gloria Foster, who played The Oracle in the first Matrix, had suddenly died of a heart attack. Then R&B singer Aaliyah, who’d signed up for a major role, was killed in a plane crash in the Caribbean.
Keanu’s co-star Carrie-Anne Moss was also badly hurt shooting action scenes and sidelined for five weeks and the star himself was laid up with a broken ankle.
In October last year, there was the added stress of a plea from his dad, Sam Reeves, to put aside a 25-year family feud. Sam, 60, desperate to contact his son one last time through fear of dying from chronic diabetes and heart palpitations, said: “I don’t want anything from Keanu, just his love. I pray he’ll get in touch before the end comes. Drugs took my family away from me.”
The litany of tragedies and drama resulted in the release of the first sequel, Reloaded, being delayed until this month, with Revolutions completing the Matrix trilogy in November, four years after the original came out.
Despite the prospect of at last establishing himself as a Hollywood A- lister, Keanu has little interest in fame and fortune. He says: “It’s nice not to have to worry about the rent or paying your bills but, like the cliche says, money doesn’t buy you happiness.”
Only time will tell whether Keanu Reeves can ever move on from the traumatic events of the past three years. For now, only by pouring himself into acting and his Buddhist faith can the star find any peace.
“Acting allows you to escape your worries and problems,” he once said.
“Unfortunately, I’m not able to accept that suspension of reality for very long. There’s always something that draws me back into real life.”