The actor opened up about how he’s used his experience of bereavement in his acting.
Keanu Reeves is well known for a lot of things: being an action movie star in films such as The Matrix, his comedy chops in movies like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and his sizzling chemistry with Sandra Bullock in Speed (a childhood favourite of ours here at Stylist).
The actor has always remained quiet about his personal life though, which is one of the many things we love about him (another is the number of female film directors he’s worked with).
But while promoting his latest film, Reeves has opened up about dealing with grief.
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum continues the story of Reeves’ character Wick, which began in 2014’s John Wick. In that film, Reeves’ ex-hit man comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that killed his dog, one of the last things that connected him to his recently deceased wife.
Although it might not seem like it, in an interview for the Guardian, Reeves connected his character’s melancholy with his own life.
In 1999, Reeves’ long-term girlfriend Jennifer Syme gave birth to the couple’s daughter Ava, who was still born. Reeves and Syme broke up soon after, and two years later Syme was killed in a car accident.
It’s understandable then, that Reeves chooses not to have his personal life play out in public. But speaking to the Guardian, he said that he brought his personal experiences to the character of John Wick.
“With any character,” he said, “the way I think about it is, you have the role on the page, you have the vision of the director and you have your life experience.”
He admitted that his own personal experience of losing someone was “one of the foundations of the role for John Wick”.
Reeves continued by saying that he found grief interesting “for the character and in life” because “it’s about the love of the person you’re grieving for, and any time you can keep company with that fire, it is warm”.
He continued: “I absolutely relate to that, and I don’t think you ever work through it. Grief and loss, those are things that don’t ever go away. They stay with you.”
Losing someone, he added, was “always with you, but like an ebb and flow”.
Grief is a very personal thing, which makes opening up about it difficult, and studies have shown that men find it much harder to talk about grief than women.
But when people in the public eye like Reeves, Beanie Feldstein or Jessica Williams speak about it, they can help us all to realise that grief comes in many different shapes and forms, and there’s no one way to handle it.
And that’s an important lesson for us all to learn.