Is Keanu Reeves Hollywood’s most underrated athlete? Stories from his sports movies

Keanu Reeves is among the most well-known actors on the earth, however he additionally is likely to be the most underrated athlete in Hollywood — a former highschool hockey goalie who, in line with one former NFL quarterback, may have performed faculty soccer, too.

Of course, Reeves did play a former faculty soccer quarterback in “Point Break”. He additionally performed knowledgeable QB in “The Replacements”, a youth baseball coach in “Hardball” and an eccentric goalie in “Youngblood.” He virtually obtained Woody Harrelson’s position in “White Men Can’t Jump,” however it seems Reeves may soar higher than he may ball.

So listed below are a number of the greatest Keanu Reeves sports tales, instructed by actors, administrators, extras, stuntmen and previous pickup hockey friends. They are simply as quirky, humorous and galvanizing as you’d count on.

D.B. Sweeney, actor, “Hardball”: He’s an attention-grabbing cat.

Chris Robbins, stunt double, “The Replacements”: He’s most likely the most effective souls I’ve ever been round.

Sweeney: We performed hockey collectively out in LA. There’s a unfastened group of actors that performed on the market. Numerous Canadian guys. Tom Cruise got here a pair instances; that was an enormous deal. And additionally Keanu got here out a pair instances.

Mark Ellis, sports coordinator, “Hardball” and “The Replacements”: He’s a special dude, made out of a special material.

Sweeney: It was attention-grabbing as a result of he was much more offbeat 20 years in the past than he’s now, so once I discovered Keanu Reeves was a goalie, I used to be like, “Oh, that’s perfect. Of course Keanu Reeves is a goalie.”

Rick Neuheisel, former UCLA soccer coach: I get a cellphone name from (“Point Break” director) Kathryn Bigelow. … She requested if I might have an hour or so to work with Keanu Reeves. He was going to be an FBI agent that was a former All-American quarterback making an attempt to infiltrate this surf group, and there was going to be a seaside soccer scene and he has to seem like he’s enjoying soccer. Could I train him some fundamentals? I stated: “I’d just seen Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, I’m all in.”

Ellis: You may inform he was an athlete from the second he put the ball in his hand.

Neuheisel: He is available in gung-ho with a backpack and jean jacket on. He comes into the UCLA workplace and we go right down to the sector. You may inform he was a try-hard man, that he desires to do that and he desires to do it properly.

T.J. Rubley, quarterback coach, “The Replacements”: Truth be instructed, when Keanu was achieved, he may drop again, he may throw nearly each throw on the route tree. He most likely would have been recruited by Division II or Division III (colleges) out of highschool.

Ellis: He’s distinctive in so many various methods.

Jason Kay, childhood buddy and hockey pal: We have been shifting homes one 12 months — our household was — and we had this huge fridge within the basement of our home, and we weren’t certain find out how to get it out, and Keanu put some form of tether round his higher torso — virtually round his shoulders and neck — and he strapped it across the fridge and he carried the fridge by himself upstairs, and that’s how decided he was.

Ron Shelton, director of “White Men Can’t Jump”: One reminiscence is of him in my manufacturing workplace wanting to indicate me how excessive he may soar, and he leapt up and his hand went by the drop ceiling.

Boban Marjanović, Houston Rocket, “John Wick” actor: He’s an enormous fan of basketball. He stated he cherished once I stroll in a sport, how persons are mainly terrified of me and the way I present my energy and the way tall and highly effective I’m. I used to be like, “No way Keanu is talking to me about basketball and he’s giving me compliments. No way this is happening. No way. This is not true.”

Kris Lofton, little one actor, “Hardball”: Just actually the best individual.

Marjanović: Every time once I’m feeling run down, I bear in mind these phrases they usually make me apply and do higher and be who I’m.


Sweeney: We’re taking pictures “Hardball” within the Robert Morris Projects. We’re speaking concerning the scene and we’re standing at residence plate and we’re about to movie an argument. Keanu, forgive me if I’m misquoting this, however we’re speaking concerning the scene. There was a query concerning the script, and he seems up and goes: “Whoa. It’s crazy that we’re here in the projects … and we’re working on a project.”

Bryan Hearne, little one actor: He’s the explanation I’m a hippie.

Julian Griffith, little one actor: He was the most chill man I’ve ever labored with, man.

Sweeney: In between takes, he would sit there and simply go to with these children, however he wouldn’t speak to them like they have been 12. He’d simply speak to them.

Hearne: We would speak about stuff just like the ocean. We would speak about what’s within the ocean and the way possibly we’re the aliens and all of the whales and dolphins and sharks are the true natives of Earth.

Griffith: You would have thought we have been sitting round smoking a joint or one thing. (I don’t smoke, by the best way!) It was like, “Why do our eyes turn red but we don’t see red?”

Hearne: He modified my perspective on loads of issues. We even talked concerning the Bible and the way he believes that Jesus wasn’t a white male. He thought Jesus was possibly an olive-skinned man with dreadlocks.

Michael Perkins, little one actor: It was a nighttime shoot, and it was fairly chilly that evening, and I bear in mind sitting in a station wagon, and abruptly, he’s like, “You hungry?” And I used to be like, “Yeah.” And he was like, “You want some Burger King? Here.”

Sweeney: He was very current. He was fully round, even when he is likely to be off in his personal headspace.

“I consider myself a self-aware person,” “Hardball” costar Bryan Hearne (proper) instructed The Athletic. “I credit Keanu for that.” (Chuck Hodes / Paramount Pictures by way of Getty Images)

Lofton: We’d be on set in between takes or they’d be organising a shot, and I’d be like, “Hey, Keanu, let’s play catch.” He’d be like, “Oh, sure, I’ll play catch with you.”

Griffith: My mother all the time taught me to greet adults with Mr. and Miss. Every time I might speak to him, each time he stated one thing, I’d be like, “Thank you, Mr. Keanu.” He’d be like, “Hey, hey, hey, hey. It’s just Keanu, OK?” I’d be like, “How are you today, Mr. Keanu?” He’d be like, “I’m good, but you don’t have to call me Mister. It’s Keanu.”

Lofton: We have been on the market instructing him find out how to do the Big Poppa dance, like waving his fingers within the air.

Griffith: We may count on to see him with a cigarette, coming in on his bike, a cup of espresso.

Hearne: He was all the time carrying some funky boots.

Griffith: Dystopian, “Book of Eli” boots.

Lofton: He smoked cigarettes so much. My mother and pa additionally smoked cigarettes. He would ask my mother and pa for thus many cigarettes that ultimately my dad actually instructed him: “You know what, Keanu? You’re rich enough to go buy a whole truck of cigarettes. I’m not giving you anymore.” And Keanu simply began dying laughing.

Hearne: Lots of people say that he’s not actor. I feel that he was letting the Media and the critics and the followers get to him. They’d minimize and he’d be like: “Oh, God, I suck!” We’re like seven 12-year-old children making an attempt to let this man from “The Matrix” know that he’s wonderful. I had this one scene with him the place we’re strolling by the tasks and he’s taking me residence, and he says, “What do you guys do for fun?” I inform him that basically all we do for enjoyable is play baseball with him. I did the scene a number of instances and wasn’t feeling it. I used to be form of like Keanu, I used to be like: “Oh, I suck!”

Perkins: Even if errors would occur, he was similar to: alright, cool, calm down, get a while to your self. Go breathe.

Hearne: He instructed me to take a breather and, after the query is posed to my character, to essentially simply really give it some thought, then say it as if it’s the one factor I may consider. That’s my favourite scene.

Ellis: At the top of “Hardball”, I’m on the brink of go residence. He walks as much as me and fingers me a candy, model new Rawlings baseball glove, with my identify engraved on it. Out of nowhere. Very good reward. Later on, once I discovered he did “The Matrix” and gave all these stunt guys Harley-Davidsons, the subsequent time I noticed him I stated, “Let me get this straight: I get a baseball glove, they get Harley-Davidsons?” He goes, “Well, I needed somebody to ride with.”

Griffith: I wasn’t invited to do one interview in LA, and when he walked in, he stated, “Where’s Julian? Julian should be here right now.”

Hearne: I contemplate myself a self-aware individual. I credit score Keanu for that.

“The Replacements”

Dustin Dennard, further: He is available in that first huddle and was like, “Good lord, you guys are enormous.”

Robbins: We have been at some highschool in Baltimore for a coaching camp.

Ellis: It’s sizzling and it’s early on. We obtained within the huddle, known as the play and Keanu fumbled the snap. I blew the whistle to cease the play: “Daggone it, get it right! Let’s go! Get back in the huddle and call the play again!”

Dennard: I’ll be damned if it doesn’t occur once more. This time, he will get a grip on it, however as he goes to step out, it falls out of his fingers. (Actor) Pete Ohnegian has performed heart his complete life. He’s getting it to the place it must be.

Robbins: Petey O. may most likely rip a phonebook in half with his naked fingers.

Dennard: So we huddle up once more. Keanu, you may see him be like, “What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get this right?” He’s actually concentrating.

Ellis: He will get again within the huddle and says, “My fault, guys.” He calls the play and says, “Ready, break.” But they don’t break. (Ohnegian) seems at him and says: “Don’t f—— fumble it again.”

Ohnegian: It simply felt comfy treating him like one of many guys.

Dennard: Keanu, in his humble self, he’s strolling, wanting down on the floor, and simply goes: “I got it.”

Ellis: Keanu tells me the story later and cracks up.

Bob Gagliano, former NFL quarterback and personal coach: Sometimes I questioned what a part of city he was coming in from for our exercises. He had this little Porsche and it was only a mess. There was sh– throughout that automotive. Clothes, crap throughout.

Ohnegian: I all the time give everyone nicknames. He’d present up simply who he’s: matted, unshaven, like he was simply up all evening. I’d be like, “You’re the star. How do you show up like Mr. Crabby Pants?”

Gagliano: He didn’t care. I form of admired that about him.

Ellis: He wished to grasp, down to each element, what his first major receiver was, his second major receiver, how lengthy he would have, what the clock in his head ought to be telling him and why he was making this choice.

Dennard: “OK, do I buckle my chinstrap when I come in the huddle? Should I take a knee?”

Robbins: He was one of many guys. His locker was beside mine. He wasn’t in his trailer.

Rubley: Blisters and the entire thing like the remainder of us.

Robbins: We have been going to have this chance to shoot the 4 largest performs of the film at halftime of an NFL preseason sport.

Ellis: We’ve paid loads of Money to get this, and we are able to’t screw it up as a result of if we screw it up, we don’t have the freaking finish of the film. No query we’re going to make use of the (stunt) double. No query.

Dennard: We solely had possibly 11 minutes, someplace in there. We rehearsed these performs time and time and time and time once more.

Ellis: During the method of all this someday, Keanu walks as much as me. He says, “I want to do this.” I look over at him like, “What?” He goes, “Give me a chance to do this.” That means I’ve obtained to say to the producers and everyone else, “He’s ready, he can do this, let’s let him run these plays.” He wished to be the man underneath heart, in entrance of that crowd. I’m like, “Two weeks ago, you couldn’t take the damn snap! Now you want to go out in front of 65,000 people?”

Dennard: Three or 4 of us shared just a little two-bedroom condominium to maintain prices low. We have been 4 or 5 days into rehearsal for that halftime present. It’s redundant. It’s sizzling. We’re sweating to loss of life, simply on the market getting put by the ringer. Keanu can sense it. He stated, “Hey, what are y’all doing this evening”? It was like a Friday: “We’re just going to hang out, maybe go grab a beer.” He was like, “OK, I’m going to come by later. Maybe we’ll grab dinner.” The freaking man exhibits up and brings dinner and is like: “Hey, I just wanted to tell y’all thank you.”

“Of course Keanu Reeves is a goalie.” (Ronald Siemoneit / Sygma by way of Getty Images)

Ellis: We’re sitting within the tunnel the day of the sport, and his eyes are like saucers as a result of now he can hear the gang earlier than we run out. Boom, the whistle blows, ends the half, the Ravens and Panthers run of their tunnels and we come flying out. We’ve obtained every little thing in place, stopwatch begins, and we all know we’ve to be off that subject it doesn’t matter what. We’ve obtained one million {dollars} on the road, at the very least. If we screw up…

Dennard: There was not anyone on that set that labored more durable to get higher than he did.

Ellis: He will get on the market and freaking does it, and I imply FREAKING does it. Bam. Just like we practiced. The horn blows and everyone will get again into the tunnel. Keanu runs as much as me. I’ll always remember this the remainder of my life. To see the look on his face. The goosebumps on his arms.

Robbins: He is one hundred pc current with you. You get full consideration, regardless of who you might be.

Ellis: Man, you get previous and look again … (clears throat) … The man checked out me and thanked me for believing in him. To have that second, he didn’t owe that to me. (Voice wavers) He simply made me look nice. But he flips it. (Voice cracks) He flips it and instantly makes it about you. (Pause) Whether you’re on a film set or on an actual soccer subject or simply in life, man, that second — I had simply by no means had one like that, I imply, so real and genuine. The pure pleasure and thankfulness. (Sniffles) It put me within the second. It made me really feel nice about me.

Robbins: There was one specific stunt the place I simply obtained pummeled, and he despatched his masseuse simply to care for me. I didn’t say, “Oh man, I’m hurting today, Keanu.” He simply despatched his masseuse.

Gagliano: He labored out at Glendale Junior College, the place I went. He made a donation to Glendale College — and we simply labored on the market someday.

Ohnegian: I had an image made right into a 16-by-20. He signed the image: “Pete — if I sound at all like a quarterback, it is because of your Help and support. My thanks to you. I wish you all the best. Keanu Reeves aka Mr. Crabby Pants.”

Brant Feldman, agent: In the mid-90s, Keanu would come and skate at Iceoplex North Hills, which was the coaching residence of the LA Kings.

Reeves (on Reddit): For a very long time in Los Angeles once I first moved there, once I was 20 years previous, it was such a brand new world and so I noticed some guys at a gasoline station as soon as who had hockey gear of their automotive, and I requested them what they have been doing, they usually stated they have been enjoying road hockey, so I requested them if I may play. So I turned concerned in a road hockey sport that came about each weekend for over 10 years. That was cool to be part of. It was a cool factor to have occur. Made some associates.

Sweeney: Mike Myers had confirmed up, and he’s from Toronto. Mike Myers wasn’t superb and he wasn’t very pleasant. Tom Cruise got here as soon as, and he was Tom Cruise, shaking everyone’s fingers. Keanu stored to himself, and he was placing his gear on and also you’re pondering, “This could go either way. He could be a sieve or he could have a tantrum and he could skate off.”

Pat Brisson, agent: At that point he was enjoying so much, on totally different groups and at totally different rinks.

Sweeney: There have been some former professionals and faculty gamers, they usually have been ripping the puck fairly good. He didn’t again down. He had my respect.

Peter Markle, director, “Youngblood”: We had a sport the place two-thirds of the individuals on the ice have been Junior A (gamers). Keanu was in web and took a ton of photographs. He dealt with himself rather well. He was getting photographs from guys who performed for the Marlies (then Toronto’s junior workforce) and didn’t appear to have any issues. Pretty gutsy man.

Randy Walker, further on “Youngblood”: There’s a scene within the film the place he does fast “up-downs,” like he goes down within the butterfly a bunch of instances and will get again up. And he was like that.

Markle: He had glove hand.

Kay: He was a really distinctive particular person again within the day, only a huge persona, and that form of goes with goaltending.

Markle: I used to be very receptive to his concepts. He would stroll within the locker room and be like, “What do you think of this?” And he’d put like 5 rolls of tape on high of his head to stability and I’d let him stroll by scenes like that.

Steve Hahn, actor, to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 1996: We all the time go to somebody’s home or a bar in Hollywood, hang around, watch hockey. He by no means has any Money. He’s all the time asking me for Money. … So lastly, concerning the fifth time I stated, “Keanu, what’s up? You’re like making like $9 million a movie and you’re asking me for Money.” He stated, “I’m sorry, I just never have any Money on me.”

Walker: I simply bear in mind him simply being like a traditional Canadian man with denims and a lumber jacket.

Markle: In Toronto, I used to be solely about half a mile away from Keanu’s. We would drive collectively to the rink on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He had this previous beat-up Volvo station wagon. I obtained a name from him someday when he had moved to LA. I stated, “Well, how did you get there?” He stated: “I drove the Volvo.”

Hearne: He’s a extremely down-to-earth dude.

Ellis: Somebody let him look behind the scenes, and he will get the universe.

Carl Paoli, stunt double, “Hardball”: I examine him to Picasso. If you actually know Piccasso and also you’ve been to the Picasso museum, you’ll see that Picasso can paint like Rembrandt. Picasso can paint real looking, historic, beautiful work. He selected to color like he was loopy. He selected to make it look very new and summary. That’s what Keanu does. … Every occasionally, his absolute intelligence and philosophical background slips out.

Perkins: He was like a neighbor. You speak, have dialog, after which go about your day. And it’s like: You simply met one of many coolest individuals you’ll ever meet.

Hearne: He by no means says an excessive amount of and he doesn’t say too little. He gives simply the right quantity of dialog, the right quantity of vitality. He makes you smile, and by the top of it you allow and also you’re like, “I want more of him. How can we get him back?”

(Illustration: Wes McCabe / The Athletic; Photos: Lance Staedler, Ronald Siemoneit, SGranitz, Scott Halleran / Getty Images)

Leave a Comment