Way Back When: Keanu Reeves
Before he became a part of the pop culture consciousness as the totally rad Ted Logan in ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ and skyrocketed to fame, Keanu Reeves had a bunch of smaller, less-noticeable roles. In today’s Way Back When, we take a look at the career of a much younger Reeves, way back before Neo entered ‘The Matrix.’
Keanu Reeves had a big part as an unnamed “teenage client” on this Canadian comedy show from the ’80s about a youth drop-in center that helps teens deal with all kinds of issues, from homelessness to sexual harassment to… singing and dancing? Anyway, that’s what this clip suggests. It’s a bit blurry, but you can see a young Keanu honing his early ‘Bill and Ted’ skills as a grungy dude.
Corn Flakes Commercial
Dudes, Corn Flakes is a totally righteous cereal with all kinds of, like, vitamins and stuff. Just check out Reeves pretending to be a fancy waiter, laying out a bunch of Corn Flakes for some unseen rich folks’ banquet dinner. Yeah, because nothing says luxury like Corn Flakes. Put some raisins in that and then we can talk, buddy. Reeves doesn’t get to do much here, but watching him dance around and munch down on some flaky breakfast cereal goodness is cute enough.
Hey guys, you know what you really need after a bike marathon? No, not water, you losers — Coke! This Coke commercial features Reeves as a young man who wants to race in a bike marathon, and his dad is all, “You’ve gotta really want it!” And Reeves is like, “I want it.” Such enthusiasm from the young actor. The best part, though, is when his dad approaches him with a bottle of Coke post-race, and Keanu does his signature declarative statement acting and says, “A Coke.” Yes, Keanu, a Coke. Very good. We’ll send Dora the Explorer right over to help you learn more words.
In 1985, Keanu starred as “Stereo Teen #1″ in the TV movie ‘Letting Go’ with John Ritter. Ritter is just trying to sell this new TV set-up to a couple when Keanu and his buddy keep messing with a loud stereo system behind them. Keanu really begins to show his diversity here — not only can he play a grungy burnout and a waiter, but he can also play an airhead jock. He is one of the greatest actors of his time (in the ’80s).
‘One Step Away’
Here, Keanu is in ‘One Step Away,’ a Canadian film in which he plays a class clown who’s too cool to care about tests and being on time for stuff. He’s a rebel!
If you guys haven’t seen ‘Youngblood,’ you are seriously missing out on some classic ’80s foolishness. If you’ve seen the Seann William Scott/Jay Baruchel film ‘Goon’ (which is really fantastic and available on Netflix Instant, so watch it ASAP), this is sort of like that, but not very “good.” Keanu stars alongside Patrick Swayze and Rob Lowe in the tale of a hockey hopeful who has to prove to scouts in Canada that he can throw down and fight when the time comes on the ice. Keanu plays a French-Canadian with a horrible accent. It’s like, offensively bad.
‘Babes in Toyland’
‘Babes in Toyland’ is one of those ’80s movies that’s so bonkers that you really just need to watch it. It’s a made for TV movie that’s like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ for meth heads on Christmas. Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves are siblings, and together with their parents in the clip below, they sing a song about their town of Cincinnati (even spelling out “Ohio” for you) in perhaps the only movie sequence ever made in which people gleefully sing as they get in a car accident and their kid almost dies. Barrymore flies out the window and bonks her head on a tree, sending her to the world of Toyland where Keanu pulls double-duty as both her brother and Jack-be-Nimble. Yes, really.