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Further Phoenix
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Los Angeles

Surviving: A Family in Crisis


Stand By Me

My Own Private Idaho

Mike Waters

Gus Van Sant

Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves: An Illustrated Story

David Bassom

Dangerous Liaisons

Crucible, The

Speed 2

River's Edge

Permanent Record

Chevalier Danceny

Patrick Swayze

Point Break


Ted "Theodore" Logan

Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

Keanu Reeves - An Illustrated Story

by David Bassom.
First published in 1996.

ISBN 0-600-58990-0 (Paperback, 80 Pages)

A large book, in physical size if not in pages, that contains a collection of countless photographs depicting the career of Keanu Reeves. Beginning with his debut in a high school production of The Crucible, the book comes to an end in 1996, perhaps a few months prematurely, with Keanu considering possible scripts for Speed 2.

First and last, this is a Keanu Reeves book and the actor's various friends and co-stars are mentioned only briefly. It is whilst discussing the appropriately named movie River's Edge, that River's name first appears. Even then it is just to highlight the similarities between Stand By Me and River's Edge, another ensemble movie from 1986, in which a group of friends discover the dead body of one of their school friends on the edge of a river bank.

With plagiarism so common in Hollywood, another striking similarity is discovered a short time later when the book looks at the 1988 movie Permanent Record. Keanu stars as a high school student who has to re-evaluate his own life following the suicide of his best friend and the similarities with Surviving are once again hard to ignore.

Given Reeves' love of motorcycling and risky driving, it comes as little surprise that the actor has faced numerous police charges and had several accidents. He has one scar which extends from his navel to his chest and another on his calf, and nonchalantly admitted, "My body's a wreck." Ironically, the actor was in hospital recovering from one of his many accidents when he learned that he had won the role of Chevalier Danceny in Dangerous Liaisons.

Despite his adult hobbies and interests, on screen at least, Keanu, at this point in his career, was always to be found playing much younger characters. Not wanting to be typecast, Keanu was no doubt keen to bring new meaning to the phrase "acting his age" and he would soon be starring alongside Patrick Swayze in the action-packed thriller Point Break. Without taking a break, it would be on the very day that production was completed on this physically exhausting movie that Keanu would leave for Oregon to begin work on My Own Private Idaho.

"I was beat. I didn't think I could get through it. But the spirit of Gus Van Sant, a brilliant director, and River Phoenix, a brilliant actor, drew me back into the fire."

Reproduced in the book are four publicity shots from the movie as well as a huge two-page spread of River, Keanu and Gus Van Sant enjoying a break during filming. It doesn't take long though for the author's strong dislike for My Own Private Idaho to become apparent.

Named after a B-52s song, My Own Private Idaho is an experimental and far from successful road movie. Gus Van Sant occasionally delivers an interesting visual but is let down by his own screenplay, which goes nowhere very slowly. Unsurprisingly, the film was rubbished by reviewers and audiences stayed away. Even its admirers criticised it as being irresponsible for failing to mention, let alone address, the threat of AIDS.

While Phoenix won strong notices for his portrayal of Mike, Reeves received mixed reviews. The actor himself conceded that he was disappointed by his contribution to the film and felt that he could have done a better job if he hadn't been recovering from Point Break. Nevertheless, Reeves is once again absolutely convincing in the scene where he has problems with his broken-down motorbike.

Sure. The highlight of the movie in fact.

After completing My Own Private Idaho, Keanu returned to Los Angeles to reprise his Ted "Theodore" Logan character in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. River is mentioned no more throughout the rest of the book.

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