While Keanu Reeves is an accomplished actor with an extensive resume, arguably his most successful franchise is the John Wick series.
Keanu is thought to have earned $1-2 million for the first John Wick movie, and $2-2.5 for the second. Although he was initially offered upwards of $9 million for the first movie, he instead decided to claim a percentage of ownership of the John Wick movies, a smart move that more and more stars are taking.
Keanu is significantly different than many of his Hollywood costars in that he often opts to accept less than he is due to help the production.
For his first movie, ‘Youngblood’, Keanu earned $3,000 for his role. From here he starred and acted in a series of hit and miss movies until he landed the co-starring role in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which is the first movie many people know him from.
He has been in Hollywood and acting for nearly three decades and has come a long way from these humble beginnings.
From making a meager $3,000 in his first film, he went on to make nearly $250 million by starring as Neo in the Matrix Trilogy. He was initially contracted to make $10 million from the first movie but later managed to negotiate a portion of the film’s profits into the contract.
This was the explosion of his career and simultaneously the last movie that he took such a significant paycheck from.
After those movies, his net worth exploded, and shortly thereafter he did an interview with the Chicago Tribune. He told them that, “Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I’ve already made for the next few centuries.”
Willing Pay Cuts
The movie the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ would have never come to fruition if Keanu hadn’t opted to defer $2 million so that Al Pacino could be hired to co-star. In a similar fashion, he took a significant pay reduction in ‘The Replacements’ so that the director could hire Gene Hackman.
It is also believed that the money the director of John Wick saved by offering Keanu ownership was used to enhance the special effects and fight scenes in the movies, which is what arguably lead to their massive blockbuster success.
Down to Earth
From many interviews and fan interactions, it has been widely reported that Keanu Reeves is one of the most humble, down to Earth celebrities of our time. He is well known for frequently posing for photos with fans and signing autographs.
One of the best examples of his humbleness is that he still takes the subway and public transportation whenever he can. He first went internet famous in 2015 for his kindness when he gave up his seat on the subway for a woman that was carrying a cumbersome bag.
He was offered a starring role in Speed 2 to the tune of $11 million toward the beginning of his career, and he turned it down to star as Hamlet in the Manitoba Theatre Companies production in Canada.
He experienced great success with the Matrix movies, earning approximately $250 million, and ever since he has been paying the generosity forward. One of the best examples of this is when he bought all twelve members of the stunt crew on the Matrix Reloaded brand new Harley Davidson motorcycles as a gesture of appreciation for their hard work.
This star also regularly donates money to cancer research and children’s hospitals and he also has a private foundation that he runs that helps sick children. He lets them do whatever they choose to with his donations and his name isn’t attached to it in any way.
Keanu has referred to himself as the “limit of John Wick”. These movies have pushed him to the brink of his endurance, physicality, and acting ability.
He constantly pushes himself to go past all of his limits and has trained extensively to constantly improve himself. These movies have become his passion, and thus he gains more than just money and fame from them.
Although playing John Wick may be one of his lower-paying rolls, he has made up for that in the experiences and life-changes that have come from it.
While Keanu Reeves could easily be one of the most highly paid actors in Hollywood today, he instead has chosen a path of kindness, humbleness, and generosity that is to be admired.