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Further Phoenix
at Rio's Attic:

Hollywood

Joaquin Phoenix, Leaf Phoenix

Los Angeles

I Love You To Death

My Own Private Idaho

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Gus Van Sant

Keanu Reeves

Martha Plimpton

River Phoenix: A Short Life

Brian J. Robb

Parenthood

Harlan James

William Hurt

Marlon James

Johnny Depp: A Modern Rebel

Devil's Advocate

Toronto, Canada

Dangerous Liaisons

Speed

River's Edge

Keanu Reeves: An Excellent Adventure

Chain Reaction

Johnny Mnemonic

Jan De Bont
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

Keanu Reeves: An Excellent Adventure

by Brian J. Robb.
First published in 1997.

"I was at a point where I had done the most I could do in Toronto. I was tired of playing the best friend, thug number one and the tall guy. I got into my dumpy 1969 Volvo and drove here with $3,000. I stayed at my stepfather's and proceeded to go into the darkness that is LA."

- Keanu Reeves


ISBN 0-85965-245-9 (Paperback, 157 Pages)

From the author of River Phoenix: A Short Life and Johnny Depp: A Modern Rebel, comes this Keanu Reeves biography that charts the life of this intensely private actor from his birth in 1964 through to his father's release from prison in 1996 and the 1997 movie Devil's Advocate.

Written with a noticeable emphasis on both the U.K. and the actor's gay fans, the book shares much in common with both of author Brian J. Robb's earlier works.

Charting Keanu's childhood, the book considers many of the people and events that have influenced him as he was growing up and adapting to life as a Hollywood star. The author also talks about several of the friends that Keanu picked up along the way.

From his work on Parenthood, Keanu Reeves developed a great and lasting friendship with River Phoenix. "I met Keanu through my ex-girlfriend Martha [Plimpton] while they were doing Parenthood - they were sucking face regularly," recalled River Phoenix. "My brother Leaf was also in it, so Leaf and Martha were his buddies before I even became a friend of his. I liked the guy and I wanted to work with him. He's like my older brother, but shorter..."

As well as Parenthood, Robb looks at the making of each of Keanu's early movies such as River's Edge and Dangerous Liaisons before turning to the 1989 ensemble comedy I Love You To Death.

Keanu thoroughly enjoyed his bit-part slumming in I Love You To Death. He and William Hurt proved to be the star turns of the film, as their high-as-kites characters struggle to conclude their contract, shepherded by River Phoenix. With conversations riddled with pregnant pauses and unfinished sentences, as well as a distracted William Hurt brushing away seemingly invisible flies, Marlon and Harlon almost stole the film from under the nose of River Phoenix.

With the results of the research that Robb undertook for his first biography obviously still available to him, many will no doubt be pleased to see that the author chooses to spend just as much time discussing My Own Private Idaho as he does Keanu's much more well known movie Speed.

During the shooting of the camp-fire scene, River Phoenix had ribbed Keanu about playing a gay part, helpfully pointing out to him: "Just think, Keanu - five hundred million of your fans will be watching this one day!" The comment was enough to throw Keanu off his stride, resulting in a strong reprimand for Phoenix from Van Sant, while Keanu recovered his composure enough to finish shooting the scene.

Phoenix and Keanu took their research seriously, hanging out with real street hustlers to tune into the lifestyle of the roles they were to play. It was research that nearly got the pair caught up in a potentially nasty incident in Los Angeles when they were confronted by groups of knife-wielding gang members. "We'd accidentally wandered into the no man's land between two street gangs. They thought we were invading their territory. It suddenly got very heavy. Both gangs thought we were trying to work their territory," recalled Keanu of the confrontation. "It was terrifying - and there was no way we could tell them we were actors, they'd have cut us to pieces. We pretended we were ordinary guys - and then ran like hell!"

By now, Keanu's career had reached the big time. The fascinating stories that the book relates regarding some of his hit movies such as Speed and Chain Reaction will no doubt delight any Keanu Reeves fan. The book represents a valuable information source to both these and some of his less successful projects such as Johnny Mnemonic and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

Heavily criticized at both Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals, the release of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was delayed in America while Van Sant re-edited the film, hoping to make it more accessible to audiences. The result was that Keanu's already cameo-sized role was reduced sill further, something which pleased the actor when he realized what a turkey the movie had turned out to be. A single cameo by his friend River Phoenix was cut out altogether, as the film was eventually released after his death from a drug overdose. It seems the irony of dedicating a film to Phoenix in which drug-taking is celebrated escaped Gus Van Sant, the director whose work with Phoenix on My Own Private Idaho, probably more than anything else, contributed towards the actor's tragically premature death.

The life of Keanu Reeves has indeed been a most excellent adventure. This biography makes no effort to hide the rebellious streak of its subject, his arrest for drunk-driving and his several near-fatal motorcycle crashes. Having, quite literally, survived life in the Hollywood fast lane, it would appear that the actor has now taken to living his life at a slower pace as he journeys ever onward towards middle age. Such an outlook on life as this rarely if ever arrives early enough. Rather, this understanding is only fully appreciated once the true potential horrors of life have been experienced at first hand.

Keanu was deeply affected by the death of Phoenix, and so Jan De Bont rejigged his tough filming schedule to cut the grieving actor a little slack. Switching around the schedule on Speed, De Bont made sure that Keanu had some less demanding scenes to work on while he came to terms with the loss of his friend.

Keanu did come to terms with the death of River Phoenix, and was able to see what he had gained from knowing Phoenix. "River was a really heavy actor... he was the best. It helped me a lot to work with him. He was really inspiring and intelligent. All I can say is I've never felt a thing like that before in my life. I was very sad, and something beyond sad. I don't know what it is, just that you sob for hours...."


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