Believe it or not, Keanu Reeves turns 53 years old today. He started his career in his early twenties, which gives him roughly three decades as a movie star. In that time, Keanu has played a range of iconic roles from the “excellent” Ted Theodore Logan, Neo “The Chosen One” in the Matrix Trilogy, and most recently as everyone’s favorite dog avenging assassin John Wick. But while that resume alone is guaranteed to consider him a star, Keanu has never been afraid to break out of his comfort zone and try out roles that stretch his acting muscles. Admittedly, some of them didn’t quite turn out as expected (47 Ronin, anyone?), but a lot was still very good. So to celebrate, we’re going to forget “Sad Keanu” for a bit and take a look at some of his lesser known films where he doesn’t play air guitar, choose between the red and blue pill, or turns into Baba Yaga, but are nonetheless binge-worthy.
Released in 1986, this is considered Keanu’s first movie. Set in a small American town where there’s been a murder, a cover-up, and a search for the killer. It stars a young Keanu who already shows shades of his Bill & Ted’s character alongside '80s stars Ione Skye of Say Anything fame, Crispin Glover, and veteran actor Dennis Hopper to name a few.
My Own Private Idaho
An adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV directed by award-winning Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant, it stars a young Keanu Reeves as supporting actor to his best friend, the late River Phoenix.
Playing the good, conservative character alongside Patrick Swayze’s more reckless one proves a right fit for Reeves who stars in this visually cool adrenaline rush of a movie that still holds up despite being released way back in 1991.
The Devil’s Advocate
It’s a great feat in itself not to get swallowed in a scene alongside Al Pacino, but Keanu Reeves more than holds his own against the veteran thespian in this 1997 thriller. Playing young hotshot attorney, Kevin Lomax, who turns out to be the son of the devil (Al Pacino) who tempts him to take his rightful place beside him.
A Scanner Darkly
This movie is not only a decent adaptation of the book of the same name, but it's also unique in its presentation as an animated film that uses the rotoscoping technique to capture the dark, gritty feel of the story which discusses the dangers of drugs in society. Keanu leads an equally brilliant cast, which includes Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr.
A feel-good sports comedy that stars Reeves as Shane Falco, a never-was Football quarterback who showed great promise but couldn’t make it in the pros. He’s suddenly recruited by Gene Hackman’s character after NFL players go on strike in the middle of the season.
The Lake House
A love story featuring Keanu as an idealistic Architect who falls in love with Sandra Bullock as they are mysteriously connected by a magical Lake House despite being in two different time periods.
Keanu’s first (and only, so far) foray into the DC universe. Quite frankly, the movie isn’t bad at all if you don’t compare it too much to the comic version. The story is interesting, the effects are neat, and the cast seamlessly blends some humor into their dramatic performances quite nicely.
Keanu gives a convincing performance as an abusive husband in this Sam Raimi supernatural thriller. He stars alongside a stellar cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Hilary Swank, and Katie Holmes.
Speed came out in 1994 and made Keanu a bonafide action star. The movie also triggered most men of that time to go semi-kalbo. It was his first team up with Sandra Bullock and their chemistry made this action-packed film an instant classic.