July 12, 2019

Keanu Reeves is an enigma. Keanu Reeves is immortal. Keanu Reeves is the perfect human being. From the revival of his badass, assassin persona in John Wick 3, to a self-deprecating cameo in Always Be My Maybe, to the unveiling of his involvement as a video game character in Cyberpunk 2077, the Beirut-born actor has been handed a great deal of publicity, to the point that it seems as if the world is at his feet. Not that he wants any of the attention, though. Nonetheless, the media, along with the general public, has duly placed him on a pedestal as some kind of infallible deity. And I get it. He’s a total gem, inside and out. He’s beautiful with the right amount of exotic.

His locks, smooth and wavy in a “surfer dude meets supermodel” kind of way, part perfectly in the middle where his widow’s peak is. They frame his beady, contemplative dark brown eyes that look like they’ve seen as much tragedy as love and excitement—eyes that, ever so subtly, betray his Chinese-Hawaiian heritage, while his porcelain skin mirrors his English side of the family. And that beard, so very manly and full, with not a single strand of silver in sight. It’s impossible to tell he is 54 his year. Every time we see him, he’s in some kind of black suit, unknowingly fulfilling all our fantasies of being with a modern gentleman. Keanu Reeves. The paragon of beauty and brains. Stardust made flesh. A unicorn.

… or is that just the version of him that exists in our head, crafted and manipulated by the media?

As much as we’d like to believe in this mythical depiction, the truth is Keanu isn’t flawless. Put aside his status as a celebrity and the countless blockbusters he’s been in. Imagine if he were an ordinary man walking down the street. You’ll start to notice how patchy his beard really is. You’ll see the wrinkles around his tired eyes. You’ll realise his teeth aren’t spotlessly white like Will Smith’s, but yellowish like an actual person’s. When he’s not on a film set, his hair can be quite unkempt. There are actual pictures of him with a little bit of paunch (cue glass shattering). And instead of polished brogues, he’s known to sport a rather unsexy, beaten up pair of Merrell hiking boots. Look closely and you can even spot his awkward, imperfect self, emerging in his movies—the way he runs around as John Wick, for instance, is clumsy and unlike the suave smoothness of James Bond.

Yet, his blatant imperfections don’t make him any less appealing. In fact, they make him even more desirable because they’re real. It’s hard to understand this because people generally don’t know what women actually want in a man. They have gotten it all wrong. People think women want a macho man, a superhero with bulging abs to save them from their dull existence, or a Ken doll look-alike with striking blue eyes and a perfect coif, who scores high on all fronts from fashion to physique. Sure, such a man is easy on the eyes, but for a life partner, he’s ironically not the best option. Why? Because most of us are average, plain Janes ourselves.

Imagine being in a relationship with someone like Chris Evans or Amber Heard. It’s like being in a relationship with the sun. These drop-dead gorgeous human specimens shine so brightly that it’ll hurt you to be close to them. Forget the fame and fortune. Their outward perfection is enough to render you self-conscious and drained from having to keep up, physically, to feel that you’re adequate. You can’t let loose in front of supermodels. Not an ounce of fat, not a single blemish on your body can be revealed, lest you feel inferior and judged (by both yourself and others). Keanu, on the other hand, will jump at letting you be the prettier one.

And does Hollywood actually think women pine for someone like Batman? Here’s a hint: Batman is a male power fantasy, a masked character who is emotionally unavailable, prone to masochism, and drenched in false guilt. We’d sooner run than allow a distant phantom like him to come and save us.

There are many sides to Keanu Reeves. There’s the stereotypically masculine motorbike-lover who’s been riding the same 1973 Norton Commando since his 20s and founded ARCH Motorcycle, a boutique motorbike maker, in 2014. Then, there’s the literary obsessive, who launched a publishing press dedicated to alternative, artist-centric titles—X Artists’ Books—with LA-based artist Alexandra Grant. Keanu is also distinctly low-key and modest. His response to the idea of throwing a big birthday party for his 50th year is a reluctant shrug. When ambushed with a public compliment in the middle of a speech at an entertainment expo, he chuckles a little before shooting the same compliment back at the giver, and then to the rest of the auditorium.

After an impressive run at the shooting range, he sticks his tongue out briefly, not in a self-satisfied way but quite the opposite, and mumbles about being able to do better, unperturbed by the throng of attractive cheerleaders behind him. Outside of training sessions, every picture he takes with a female fan sees him hovering his hands, instead of placing them on their probably very willing bodies. In a word, he respects women.

On the metro, he’s almost always on the lookout for people he could give his seat up to, not limiting his generosity to the elderly, disable and pregnant, but thinking about those with hefty baggage that might appreciate some rest. Once, the Matrix star even drove a stranger 50 miles out of his way to make sure she gets to her destination safely. On top of that, Keanu isn’t afraid to be caught eating a sandwich alone outside, looking forlorn. Neither is he opposed to sitting down with a homeless man on the ground, sharing food and drinks, and having a genuine conversation with him. He would wait in line, while it’s raining, to get into his own wrap party, instead of pulling the “do you know who I am?” line, or discreetly calling the owner of the club to help him out. No, he lives a real life—emphasis on the real.

Besides exuding kindness like no other—serving others even at his inconvenience, what makes Keanu a man to swoon over is his consistency. For nearly three decades, he’s worn the same shirt-and-blazer outfit, and sported the same chin-length haircut. Likewise, he’s been the same laid-back “nice guy” who is less than money-minded and holds on to values that will restore our hope in humanity and form the foundation of a rock-solid relationship. Women want men who are secure and sensitive enough to show vulnerability, wise enough to know what’s important and what’s not, and open enough to show their softer side or goof off while playing with puppies. Dad bods, after all, are more comfortable than washboard abs—and that’s what the real Keanu Reeves will guarantee.

Image credit: Siberia (2018 Film)