Keanu Reeves: The Most Famous TCK

Keanu Reeves looks ahead at a speaking engagement. (Photo via Nathan Congleton/Flickr)

Keanu Reeves is one of the most popular actors alive today, but not many know about his cultural roots.

The star of “The Matrix” trilogy and the “John Wick” franchise is popularly known for his humility and casual lifestyle, but his Third Culture Kid (TCK) background isn’t as well publicized.

Keanu Reeves speaks at a “Man of Tai Chi” Q&A. (Photo via Anna Hanks/Flickr)


Keanu Reeves is renowned the world over for his superb acting and lovable personality, but what about his cultural background? The actor beloved by millions is actually a TCK, having lived in nearly half-a-dozen countries throughout his childhood.

Keanu Reeves Funko Pop (Image via Unsplash)
Photo by Sysoda Chau on Unsplash

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, his English mother and Chinese-Hawaiian grandmother raised Reeves. By the age of 8, he had already lived in Sydney, Australia and New York City, U.S.A. before finally settling in Toronto, Canada.

The most influential cultural background in Reeves’ life, however, is that of his Chinese heritage. Throughout his youth, Reeves was impacted by the culture of his grandmother; the things she showed him were influential in his childhood.

“My grandmother is Chinese and Hawaiian, so I was around Chinese art, furniture and cuisine when I was growing up,” he said in an interview with Inquirer.net. “I remember that  I really liked haikus. I also liked animé and kung fu movies — so, yeah, I was exposed to Asian culture since I was a kid.”


Though his filmography is extremely vast, there are a few honorable mentions that stick out when considering his cultural background. Both as an actor and a director, he has made nods to his heritage in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

Keanu Reeves at an event in Mexico. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The film “Man of Tai Chi,” which he directed, tells the story of a young martial artist who joins an underground fight ring, and which takes place in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Perhaps more well known is the film “47 Ronin,” a tale of the Japanese feudal era produced to the tune of other box office action films like “300” and “Gladiator.”


Reeves resonates with his Asian roots. His heritage and upbringing played a massive role in making him into the person he is today.

“My relationship to my Asian identity, it’s always been good and healthy,” Reeves said in an interview with NBC News. “And I love it, we’ve been growing up together.”

Though Reeves identifies as a person of color, he doesn’t see himself as a spokesperson of the Asian community. He does, however, hope that his career produces something of value for diversity in Hollywood and elsewhere.


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