Cigarettes have long been a symbol of bad boy (and bad girl) behavior, and the entertainment industry has often used them for shorthand to let viewers know they’re dealing with a troubled character. Actors have also turned to them off camera to help get into character. Whether it was James Gandolfini smoking unfiltered Lucky Strikes or Jennifer Lopez lighting up to stay in touch with her character, the carcinogenic vices have been a part of the Hollywood scene on and off the set.
While Keanu Reeves‘s real-life reputation is one of being the nicest guy in Hollywood, he often plays darker characters, and one particular role had the habit of smoking cross over from fiction to reality.
Keanu Reeves has a sterling reputation
Ask anyone what they know about Reeves, and it probably won’t take long for them to gush about what a nice guy he is. The actor, who has faced some heartbreaking personal tragedies, has managed to stay humble and reserved in the face of immense fame and fortune.
He lives an understated life that’s far below his considerable net worth, and he frequently makes waves for his everyday kindness. From giving up his seat on the subway — for that matter, by riding the subway in the first place — to founding a secret cancer charity, Reeves has definitely made a name for himself as an actor who deserves all the love he gets from fans.
As if that wasn’t enough, Reeves has also stands out among other professionals in the entertainment business for being unswayed by money and has even given up his own salary to make sure that projects he’s working on stay within budget.
Keanu Reeves often plays dark characters
There’s a mismatch between Reeves’s real-life character and the portrayal he often has on the screen. Sure, he’s played some happy-go-lucky characters like Ted from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but his most well-known roles tend toward the dark, creepy, and macabre.
Playing Neo from the Matrix franchise has helped place him firmly in the action world, and one of the creepiest storylines from the definitively dark John Wick universe was Reeves’ own idea. Reeves, who plays the titular John Wick, an ex-assassin who is on a vengeance spree, had a suggestion that made an already dark scene even darker.
John Wick, thrust back into the criminal underbelly after killers murder his dog and take his last prized possession from his deceased wife, is set to kill a woman, but the plot wasn’t working out right. Reeves suggested that the woman take her own life rather than wait for the former hit man to make his way to her.
One role hooked Keanu Reeves on smoking
It wasn’t one of his most famous bad boy roles that had Reeves pick up smoking as a bad habit, however. According to an interview with Daily Mail, Reeves began smoking when he was 30 years old, and the habit started on the set of one of his lesser-known — and most poorly received — films.
The 1996 comedy-drama Feeling Minnesota starred Reeves as Jjaks Clayton, a man in love with his brother’s woman — a stripper played by Cameron Diaz who is only marrying him to pay off her debt to a nightclub owner. The film receives only a 5.4 out of 10 on IMDb and certainly hasn’t gone down in history as a blockbuster, but it left a lasting impression on Reeves in at least one way.
Reeves was asked if there was anything he wanted to give up. “Smoking,” he responded. “I didn’t even start until I was 30. I got hooked making Feeling Minnesota and now it’s a prison, but I want to stop.”