Keanu Reeves explains what his 'unusual' name means

Dominic Smithers

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Keanu Reeves explains what his 'unusual' name means

Featured Image Credit: CBS

As well as being one of the nicest people in Hollywood, Keanu Reeves also has one of the coolest names about.

I mean, it's objectively better than being called Graham or Nigel, isn't it? No offence to anyone who has those names, obviously, but how many Keanus do you know?

The Lebanon-born actor has been one of the biggest stars on the planet for the past 30 years.

But early on in his career, the subject arose of where his name came from and what it actually means.

Well, speaking to David Letterman back in 1994, the 58-year-old explained that it goes back to his great-great uncle, who was also called Keanu.

Apologising for saying it incorrectly on an earlier show, Letterman said: "Let me begin by apologising last night for mispronouncing your name. I was saying 'Keenoo' or something but it's 'Ke-A'nu', is that correct?

Keanu Reeves was asked about his interesting name early on in his career. Credit: CBS
Keanu Reeves was asked about his interesting name early on in his career. Credit: CBS

"It's an unusual name, I've not heard it before, does it mean something in another language, some other part of the world?

"How did you come by the name?"

Explaining the etymology to the host, Keanu said: "Yeah, I was told it means 'cool breeze over the mountains'. It was from my great-great uncle."

When asked where it originates from, the Speed star replied: "Hawaiian."

So there you have it, mystery solved. If you can really call it a mystery, I don't know if you can.

It's a nice story nonetheless.

However, it could have been oh so very different for him, had he changed his name as he once considered.

When he was starting out in the business, Keanu thought about getting himself a stage name, as many actors do.

And he almost chose a terrible, terrible one.

The actor almost chose a very bad stage name. Credit: Sydney Alford/Alamy
The actor almost chose a very bad stage name. Credit: Sydney Alford/Alamy

Recalling those early days, he said: "So, I’m 20 years old, I’m in my first car, I wanted to be in movies, I went to Hollywood. And I get there and they’re like, ‘We wanna change your name'.

"I was like, 'Why', and they were like, 'Keanu, maybe it's a little too exotic', we don't wanna... ya know... '."

Revealing one of the names he considered at the time, Keanu went on: "'Chuck Spadina'. Just ridiculous names. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't do it."

So yeah, it could have been very, very different. I think he made the right choice.

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Topics: Celebrity, Keanu Reeves, US News, Film and TV

Dominic Smithers
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