Keanu Reeves is best known for his role in The Matrix as protagonist Neo. He also has played starring roles in the films Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures and Much Ado About Nothing.
And Reeves has dyslexia.
He was born to a British mother and Hawaiian father in Lebanon. His unusual first name is Hawaiian for “cool breeze over the mountains”. He moved around a lot as a child and struggled with school due to his dyslexia. When he was a teenager, he was expelled because, in his own words, “I was just a little too rambunctious and shot my mouth off once too often. I was not generally the most well-oiled machine in the school.”
He let off some steam in the hockey rink, where he was a star goalie, often referred to as “The Wall”. He loved the sport and aspired to go pro before an injury closed that door to him. He needn’t to find another outlet since excelling academically was not an option at the time.
“Because I had trouble reading, I wasn’t a good student,” Reeves explains to Handbag magazine. “I didn’t finish high school. I did a lot of pretending as a child. It was my way of coping with the fact that I didn’t really feel like I fit in.”
Reeves turned that talent for pretending into a burgeoning acting career around age 15, taking local classes and performing in school plays. Despite his reading troubles, Reeves discovered a deep and enduring passion for Shakespeare. “I recite Shakespeare to calm myself down,” he told Seventeen magazine in 1994. “I love Shakespeare. When I was 18, I did Romeo and Juliet onstage. It’s very relaxing when you read it out loud. Try it. I really like Hamlet.”
Sarah Forrest is a Reading Specialist for the Easyread System, an online course for struggling readers with dyslexia, highly visual learning styles, poor memory, auditory processing disorder, stress spirals and more.