Matthew Perry’s memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, has been making headlines the last week or so because of his candid revelations about addiction and mental health. It is making headlines today because of Keanu Reeves:
â€œWhy is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us? River was a better actor than me; I was funnier. But I certainly held my own in our scenesâ€”no small feat, when I look back decades later.â€ https://t.co/nNd8HJ7mgb— Variety (@Variety) October 26, 2022
I’ve not read the book yet, but according to multiple outlets, Matthew namechecks Keanu twice, both in reference to actors who died from their addictions, River Phoenix and Chris Farley. And both times with the same phrasing: “Keanu Reeves walks among us”.
The interpretation here is that Matthew is wondering why more talented artists like River and Chris are taken so soon while…Keanu walks among us. It’s gross, it’s mean, and … like… does it even make sense? If this is what Matthew is trying to say – that the world would be better if Keanu was gone and not River and Chris – it makes no sense at all because, well, our world is f-cked and it actually benefits from Keanu still being with us.
So where is this coming from?
Matthew worked with River and so did Keanu. The artistic partnership of River and Keanu in My Own Private Idaho has actually achieved cult status. They were also reportedly very close offscreen.
If you were around back then, the feelings you are feeling right now looking at those pictures…SAME.
Keanu has spoken lovingly about River in the years since, most recently last year in an interview with Esquire. In that same profile, Sandra Bullock was asked about Keanu and what she remembers about Keanu and River because she was working on Speed with Keanu when River died:
“I watched how Keanu grieved. And oh, did he grieve for his friend,” Bullock says. “He’s very private, but he couldn’t hide that. And just to see that a man like that was able to grieve. And I remember thinking, God, if that’s the tip of the iceberg of his depth, and his level of love and care for a friend—that just draws you in.”
So for Matthew Perry to write about the loss of River and then drop in Keanu’s name like that, given that it must have been painful for Keanu to lose his friend, was it necessary?!
And on top of that, Keanu has a pretty rare reputation in Hollywood. And he’s been famous for a long time. As we have seen again and again over the last few years especially, the past will come for everyone at some point. If you have sh-t buried, someone will go digging for it and pull it out, and the stench will not be contained. This hasn’t happened to Keanu. There has never been a story, not even a whisper of a story, about him that’s sketchy or anywhere near the neighbourhood of problematic.
So why is Matthew forcing him into the chat?!
It’s in poor taste, to put it mildly. You can make your point about the perils of addiction and the lights that have been extinguished because of it without dragging someone else’s name into it. And if it was a joke? If Matthew was trying to be funny?
Maybe that’s the explanation? I’m trying here. I’m trying to be generous to a person who has been through a lot, who has endured terrible years of darkness, and who is himself doing a service in sharing his story. But even if it was meant to be some kind of humour, given that Keanu himself has been through a lot of pain, and pain related to the death of the friend who is also mentioned in the anecdote, needless to say the joke didn’t work.
Here's the thing about Keanu though. He wouldn’t hold it against Matthew. If he’s ever asked about what Matthew said, he would only return those shots with sensitivity and compassion.
personally thrilled that keanu reeves walks among us— rachel zegler (she/her/hers) (@rachelzegler) October 26, 2022