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Why Everyone Loves Working With Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves is one of Hollywood's biggest movie stars, and as it happens, he's also one of the most beloved actors in the business.

After rising to prominence in movies like Speed, The Matrix, and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Reeves took some time away from the spotlight — and showed up in some not-so-great films — before experiencing an incredible career renaissance in 2014. John Wick, a smashing action epic that paired him with his former Matrix collaborators Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who worked as stunt coordinators with Reeves and whom the star personally tapped to direct the new film, casts Reeves as a retired assassin out for bloody revenge. Ultimately, John Wick became a franchise, and now, both the fourth John Wick film and the long-awaited fourth Matrix film are on the horizon.

Through it all, Reeves has built a reputation as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood, whether he's interacting with fans or on set. Whether you're a fellow actor or just a huge Reeves fan, pretty much everybody has heard tales of his real-life excellence over the years. Here's why everybody seems to love working with Keanu Reeves.

Keanu Reeves is kind, thoughtful, and professional on set

Over the years, plenty of Reeves' directors have explained exactly why they love working with this talented star, and in a recent SlashFilm feature, seven different directors came together to praise Reeves' professionalism, talent, and thoughtful nature.

Though Reeves has been mocked for what some deem a lack of talent, his directors definitely think otherwise. As acclaimed indie director Richard Linklater, who teamed up with Reeves for 2006's A Scanner Darkly, told SlashFilm, "You're just intrigued. Whatever is going on in his head, it's worthy of your attention." Linklater continued, "My biggest thing about his quality is that, you know, I'm sure everyone says he has that good-hearted, kind-hearted guy quality. Not a suck-up, though, like he's trying to be a good guy or impress anyone. He's not running for class favorite. He's not asking for your vote for anything. And yet, he exudes total decency."

Stahelski echoed Linklater's sentiments, making it clear that Reeves is the real reason the John Wick franchise has succeeded: "When you talk to people who are into [John Wick], ask them why they like it, and I think a big part of it is, and this is not to be underestimated, it's Keanu Reeves," the former stuntman said. "I'm trying to bare my soul and who I am and how I tell the story, but never underestimate that that is Keanu Reeves up on screen giving it his all. If you saw the guy work it would choke you up."

"This guy is putting everything into every shot," Stahelski went on to say. "Doesn't leave set, the last guy to leave the gym at night, always comes with ideas. This is his gig and this is his franchise. This is him pouring himself onto that screen. So, just the love he puts in, I think that's a big part of the magic sauce that makes John Wick such a brilliant thing to so many different types of people."

Collaborators have vouched for Keanu Reeves' kind heart and good nature

Many of Reeves' co-stars have also vouched for Reeves, including his frequent collaborator and friend Winona Ryder, who has appeared with Reeves in 1992's Dracula, A Scanner Darkly, 2009's The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, and the recent 2018 romantic comedy Destination Wedding. In 2020, Ryder revealed to PEOPLE Magazine that when Dracula director Francis Ford Coppola ordered Reeves to make Ryder cry during a scene by being mean to her, Reeves flat-out refused. Coppola has denied the accusation, but in any case, Dracula was clearly a bonding experience, and the two have been friends for 30 years.

As if that wasn't enough, Reeves is financially generous on set whenever possible. There are several tales of Reeves taking pay cuts in films like 1997's The Devil's Advocate and 2000's The Replacements so that the movies could afford to hire storied actors like Al Pacino and Gene Hackman. Moreover, when it came to The Matrix, he funneled his own money back into the franchise, specifically ensuring that special effects artists and costume designers would earn a bigger share of the profit by cutting his own down.

Keanu Reeves is always ready to make fun of himself

Reeves isn't just a hero for others on set; he's also always ready to spoof himself, and clearly has an excellent sense of humor. After seeing the trailer for Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key's John Wick spoof Keanu, which was inspired by Reeves himself, he called director Peter Atencio personally and asked to be involved. As Atencio told the Los Angeles Times, the two talked and made sure it would be a loving parody, and not mean-spirited: "His personality has just transcended life, in a lot of ways. You wouldn't have ever guessed that the guy from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure would turn out to be this thoughtful, kind man."

Fans of Netflix's new crop of romantic comedies may be familiar with Reeves' recent self-parodying turn — as himself — in 2019's Always Be My Maybe. During the film's years-long story, Reeves pops up as a romantic rival to Marcus (Randall Park), a sweet but lazy San Francisco native in love with his childhood best friend Sasha (Ali Wong). By playing an extraordinarily heightened version of himself, Reeves ends up providing the film with some of its most memorable scenes.

According to director Nahnatchka Khan, not only did Reeves immediately agree to appear in the movie, but he more or less memorized the entire script — not just his own scenes — and even improvised some of the funniest jokes, including a bit in which he points out that his glasses don't even have lenses, because his eyes, just like him, are perfect. As Khan recalled, ""One of the things was he said, 'I think it would be funny if I was wearing glasses for a part that had no lenses.' So we were like, 'Yeah that's definitely funny, that's amazing. Let's put that in.'"

You can check out Reeves' turn in Always Be My Maybe on Netflix now, and both The Matrix 4 and John Wick 4 are slated to hit theaters in 2022.