Hollywood once asked Keanu Reeves to change his "ethnic" sounding name

Mar 28 2023, 7:55 pm

Once upon a time, Hollywood almost convinced one of today’s most beloved stars, Keanu Reeves, to change his name because it sounded “too ethnic.”

Reeves recently appeared on the hit podcast Smartless, where he dug into some of his trials and tribulations in Hollywood and a little bit into his Canadian roots.

For those out of the loop, Smartless is a popular podcast hosted by three entertainment icons: Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes. The podcast tends to nab prominent guests like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, and they even had US President Joe Biden on in a recent episode.

Reeves appeared as part of his tour promoting the latest installment in the John Wick franchise, John Wick: Chapter 4. The star of notable films like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Speed, The Matrix, and Constantine shared some interesting details about his journey to this point in his career and how he became Canadian.

What if Keanu Reeves was Casey Reeves?

The hosts of Smartless reflected on the fact that Reeves drove from Toronto to Hollywood all by himself and that he’s still not an American citizen. Surprisingly, unlike many Canadian celebrities who find fame in America, Reeves only holds Canadian citizenship.

“I got my first car when I was 20, and I drove to Hollywood,” Reeves said. “Of course, when I got here, they wanted to change my name.”

Hayes responded, “Really?!”

“Yeah, they were like, Keanu, it’s too, uh, ethnic,” Reeves responded.

Reeves said that after hearing that, he was stomping up and down along the beach in Santa Monica, going, “What the f**k?”

There was even a moment when Reeves was thinking of name alternatives.

“I was like, okay, well, what’s my name going to be? And I was like, Templeton.”

Eventually, Reeves settled on Casey Reeves. However, it only lasted a short while before he realized he didn’t want to change his name.

Reeves’ Canadian roots

Arnett, Reeves’ fellow countryman, tends to enjoy chatting with Canadian guests about their heritage, and the show went deep with Reeves about how he got to Canada.

After a bit of moving around, Reeves and his family moved to a house in Canada when he was about seven years old, which he says is how he became a Canadian.

Reeves added that he was raised in Toronto, where he first attended Jesse Ketchum, now a junior and senior public school. Arnett said that he graduated from Leaside High School, also in Toronto. Reeves added that he went to North Toronto for one year and attended Jarvis, a different high school.

For the sports fans out there, Bateman asked Reeves if he was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and Reeves said he was and that he also played a lot of ice hockey in his younger days.

He played as a goalie, just like Arnett.

Reeves also revealed that he has ambitions to be in a Broadway show one day and that the Bruce Lee film Enter The Dragon is one of his all-time favourites.

After John Wick: Chapter 4, Reeves is set to appear in the John Wick spinoff, Ballerina, and a comic book adaptation based on Reeves called BRZRKR.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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