Keanu Reeves has played all kinds of roles in all kinds of movies. He’s played a time-traveling high schooler in a series of wacky stoner comedies, the computer hacker who discovers the secret of human existence in a science fiction trilogy, and a cold, calculated, vengeful ex-assassin in an action thriller franchise.
Whether anyone would like to admit it or not, the guy has range. Few actors can do both comedy and drama; zaniness and pathos. Reeves is a great actor with a lot of great characters on his résumé. With that in mind, here are 10 Of Keanu Reeves's best roles, ranked.
10 Jonathan Harker
Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula has the sumptuous gothic visuals and gloomy, candlelit atmosphere you have in your head when you’re reading the book. Keanu Reeves’ English accent in the role of Jonathan Harker was slammed by many critics, some of whom thought the performance as a whole was also weak. But anyone’s performance is going to look weak next to Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins.
Reeves does a fine job and, as always, he’s engaging in the role. According to Winona Ryder, an actual Romanian priest was brought in for the wedding scene and he didn’t really understand what was going on, so she and Keanu Reeves might actually be married in real life.
9 Scott Favor
Make no mistake: My Own Private Idaho is River Phoenix’s movie. But Keanu Reeves proves to be a terrific co-lead in Gus Van Sant’s drama. It’s not just a movie about one character’s journey; it’s a movie about two characters going on a journey together. So, Reeves’ role is pivotal.
The plot is a combination of a Shakespearean saga and establishing the New Queer Cinema movement. Look no further than the campfire scene in which Mike (Phoenix) confesses his unrequited love to Scott (Reeves) if you need any proof that Keanu can act. The two actors play the scene so beautifully that it has become of the gay community’s most tragic and iconic all-time moments.
8 Don John
Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing has an absurdly star-studded cast: Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Emma Thompson, Kate Beckinsale, not to mention Branagh himself. Also, Keanu Reeves appears in the role of Don John. Shakespeare is a sure-fire way to gain some credibility as an actor, and until this movie came along, Reeves had been known for his roles in action movies and comedies.
This was the project that proved to the world that he had something more to offer. In Much Ado About Nothing, Don John is one of the bad guys. Keanu Reeves doesn’t often get to play a bad guy, so it’s interesting to see.
7 Kevin Lomax
There aren’t many legal thrillers that devolve into a Satanic supernatural horror story midway through the plot, so it’s a sight to behold when one does. Keanu Reeves’ turn as a lawyer working for Satan in this movie is often overshadowed by Al Pacino’s performance as his boss, John Milton, who turns out to be the Lord of Darkness himself.
However, Reeves is great in the movie. His performance is complemented by his wardrobe; as Kevin’s soul becomes closer to the Devil, his suits get darker and darker. He’s not a good guy; he secures a “not guilty” verdict for a child molester he’s defending by discrediting his victim. It was a challenging role for Reeves to tackle.
Despite the premise of a pet threatened by a gang and the title Keanu, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele did not actually conceive their first feature film as a parody of John Wick. Still, when Keanu Reeves found out there was a comedy movie being made with his name in the title and a premise similar to that of his 2014 comeback movie, he got in touch and offered to cameo in the movie.
Of course, Key and Peele jumped at the opportunity and rewrote a dream sequence to include Keanu Reeves himself voicing the titular cat. It’s one of the funniest moments in the movie.
Neo, also known as Thomas Anderson or “the One,” is the guy we have to thank for peace in the world. Well, not our world – the world of The Matrix trilogy. Starting with the moment Neo took that red pill, we followed him on an incredible journey through cyberspace as he broke down the barriers of reality and saved the world.
The character became a little silly in the sequels, as he “did his Superman thing” and other absurd activities, but there’s no denying that his sacrifice at the end of The Matrix Revolutions solidified his place as one of cinema’s greatest heroes.
4 Jack Traven
On paper, “Die Hard on a bus” sounds like a stupid premise for a movie. But that’s part of the beauty of Speed. It sets up this absurd premise about a bomb on a bus and then it hooks you in and you go along with it for the ride. Most of these “Die Hard on a...” movies simply have a John McClane clone (John McClone?) as their protagonist.
However, with Jack Traven, Keanu Reeves created a wholly original action movie hero. The actor noticed the lack of originality in the character and had script doctor Joss Whedon rewrite Traven to change him from “a maverick hotshot” into “the polite guy trying not to get anybody killed.”
3 Johnny Utah
Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze reinvented the buddy cop genre with Point Break, the movie that combines gunfights and surfing. These two men genuinely love each other, to the point that undercover cop Johnny Utah doesn’t actually want to turn in his pal Bodhi in the end.
This was the movie that defined the word “bromance,” so countless Judd Apatow productions have Point Break to thank. Reeves and Swayze achieved a level of chemistry that few screen duos have ever done. The trick was actually convincing audiences that they aren’t best friends when they first meet, not that they are when they get to know each other.
2 Ted “Theodore” Logan
The role of Ted “Theodore” Logan is worlds apart from Keanu Reeves’ action roles. It’s difficult to grasp that the same guy who had a grave, solemn, cold demeanor as the highly skilled assassin John Wick also plays one of the dopey airhead wasters in the Bill and Ted movies.
But he’s fantastic – he’s convincing as both the stern, icy contract killer and the dumb, rock ‘n’ roll-obsessed idiot. Very few actors could pull that off, if any others at all. The long-awaited Bill and Ted threequel, Bill and Ted Face the Music, will reportedly begin shooting soon. It’ll see the titular duo writing a song that’s going to save the world.
1 John Wick
“I’m thinking I’m back,” John Wick said back in 2014 as he found himself tied to a chair by one of his many deadly foes. It took him a couple of decades, but Keanu Reeves finally found the role that would define his career in yet another epic comeback. He’s the world’s greatest assassin, responsible for hundreds of people’s deaths, but what makes him sympathetic is his love for his dog.
When Wick goes after someone, you want him to get the guy, too. The third movie in what is expected to be a long-running franchise, Parabellum, is due out later this year.