The Tragic Life Of Hollywood's Favourite Leading Man Keanu Reeves

He's had a lengthy career that's seen him amass fortune and fame, but despite all this much of Keanu Reeves' life has been marred by unspeakable tragedies.

Ted Logan, Johnny Utah, Jack Travern, Neo, John Wick -- these are all characters synonymous with Keanu Reeves.

Even now at 54 years old, his film career continues to thrive, with his latest flick 'John Wick 3' becoming the franchise's highest-earning film.

Despite behind Reeves' illustrious career, there are a series of personal tragedies that began in his childhood and continued to rear its head in various forms throughout his life.

Tough beginnings

Image: Reddit

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, to a British mother and a father who is of Chinese-Hawaiian parentage, Reeves had a nomadic childhood that saw him move between Lebanon, Australia and the US, before settling in Toronto, Canada.

Following his parents' divorce, his father abandoned the family, with Reeves explaining that he hasn't spoken to his dad -- who was later jailed for 10 years over heroin and cocaine possession -- since he was thirteen.

"The story with me and my dad's pretty heavy. It's full of pain and woe and f****ing loss and all that s**t," Reeves once told Rolling Stone.

His mother then went on to re-marry several times, meaning the family would have to relocate again each time. On top of attending four different schools, one of which he was expelled from, Reeves also struggled with dyslexia, which lead him to eventually drop out of school without a high school diploma.

The death of his best friend River Phoenix

Meeting on the set of 'I Love You To Death', Reeves and fellow actor River Phoenix quickly became inseparable. When Reeves was offered a role in 'My Own Private Idaho', he even rode his motorcycle from Toronto to Florida to personally persuade Phoenix to take this role, which he did.

During the filming for the movie, Phoenix developed a drug addiction, and on Halloween night in 1993 at Johnny Depp's club, The Viper Room, he reportedly drank a deadly mixture of heroin and cocaine, where he later collapsed on the street where he was pronounced dead at the age of 23.

While Reeves has rarely spoken out about the death of his closest friend -- which happened while he was filming 'Speed' -- in a 2017 interview with Esquire he explained, "I miss him dearly. F***ing sucks. I know so many people miss him dearly."

In a 2013 Reddit AMA, he also described Phoenix as "a remarkable human person and actor".

"We got along very well, and I miss him. I think of him often."

Death of baby Ava 

In 1998, while at a party for Reeves' rock band Dog Star, Keanu Reeves met a young woman named Jennifer Syme -- who he would later describe as the love of his life.

By 1999, the pair were over the moon after learning that Syme had fallen pregnant with a baby girl.

All was well with the soon-to-be family of three -- until one day, Syme noticed that she hadn't felt her baby move in a while. On Christmas Eve, 1991, an ultrasound revealed that their eight-month-old unborn child, who was to be named Ava Archer Reeves, had died. 


Sister Kim is diagnosed with Leukemia

Keanu Reeves and Sisters Kim Reeves and Karina Reeves. Image: Getty

In 1991, Reeves was dealt with yet another blow when his sister, Kim, was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 25 -- and Reeves immediately made it his priority to be by her side.

“He was supporting me and comforting me all the time, even when he was away,” Kim later told Women’s Day in 1999.

During her decade-long battle with cancer, he donated to numerous causes dedicated to curing cancer. He even went ahead to set up his own charity that does not bear his name.

Death of girlfriend Jennifer Syme just 18 months after losing baby


Devastated with grief over the death of their baby girl, Reeves and Syme's relationship soon fell apart, with Syme breaking up with the actor in 2000. The pair remained close, and according to some reports, they had begun to rekindle their romance just prior to Syme's death.

They continued, "They always had a fondness for another, but the death of their baby drove a wedge between them -- it was more grief than either could bear. But they had finally put their tragic past behind them and were ready to move ahead with their future."

Image: Reddit

Syme, however, had fallen into the depths of depression, using drugs in an attempt to numb the despair over her great loss.

On April 1, 2001, Syme attended a party at rocker Marilyn Manson's home, and was driven home in the early hours of the morning.

However, after deciding to return to the party around 6:20 am in her Jeep Cherokee, a speeding Syme lost control of her vehicle on the streets of LA before crashing into three parked cars.

Not wearing a seat belt, she was forcefully ejected through the windscreen of the car and died instantly. She was 28 years old.

Image: ABCNews

Reeves once again returned to the spot where 18 months earlier, he and Syme had buried their daughter.

In 2006, Reeves opened up about his horrific loss, telling PEOPLE, "Grief changes shape, but it never ends."

"People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, 'It's gone, and I'm better.' They're wrong. When the people you love are gone, you're alone."


"I miss being a part of their lives and them being part of mine.

I wonder what the present would be like if they were here — what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that we'll never be," he said.

And while none of the above tragedies appear to have dampened the star's spirit, we can only hope that from here on out, fate gives him a break from any further misfortune.

Image: Getty