Life has not been easy for Keanu Reeves who was crushed by the stillborn death of his daughter Ava and then the tragic death of his girlfriend, Jennifer Syme.

Despite the heartache of burying his baby and carrying the coffin that held the woman he loved, the 59-year-old actor keeps churning out blockbusters, silently hiding “a great pain,” according to Speed co-star Sandra Bullock.

Keep reading to learn more about the heartbreaking events that this amazing actor continues to overcome.

Despite being one of Hollywood’s most bankable celebrities, Keanu Reeves is also one of the most humble people in the industry, secretly donating millions and going out of his way to offer support where it’s needed.

Never flaunting his riches, Reeves, 59, made his feature film debut at 22 in the 1986’s Youngblood, a sports drama also starring Rob Lowe and the late Patrick Swayze.

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His breakthrough role came in 1989 with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a sci-fi comedy with outrageous catch phrases – like “righteous babe” – that still influence pop culture.

“I don’t want to be super famous, man,” Reeves told New York’s Newsday in 1991. “That would be awful.”

But the world had other plans for the handsome dark-haired actor.

One of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors, the Beirut-born Canadian then had massive success with appearances in several films like Point Break (1991) and Speed (1994), establishing himself as an action hero.

Dark side of Hollywood

In 1993, Reeves saw the dark side of celebrity when 23-year-old River Phoenix, his best friend and co-star in the 1991 film My Private Idaho, died of a drug overdose.

“I’ve always loved you, River. River is my best friend, and I don’t have many of them,” said Reeves, years ago, of the young actor he called his “brother.”

At the time of Phoenix’s death, Sandra Bullock, who co-starred with Reeves in the Speed franchise, revealed that he was hiding a deep sadness. She said: “I think Keanu has gone through a lot even though he doesn’t let on. He hides a great pain.”

Crushing grief

Things didn’t get any easier for the star of the Lake House, a 2006 film that reunited him with Bullock.

In 1998, one year before he played the formidable warrior in the award-winning Matrix, the brooding actor met a young woman, Jennifer Syme, at a party thrown for his band Dogstar.

The two instantly connected and planned a life together, which included starting a family.

On Christmas Eve 1999, Syme gave birth only eight months into her pregnancy, and baby Ava was stillborn.

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The grief was too much for the couple to resolve and their relationship ended, reconciling a close friendship a few weeks later.

Less than two years after burying Ava, Syme, 29, left an April 2001 party at Marilyn Manson’s home when the car she was operating rolled over several times. Syme, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and was under the influence of alcohol, was tossed and died instantly.

According to the Daily Mail, police found “medication” in Syme’s vehicle, along with “two one-dollar bills” that were “rolled up with a white powdery substance.”

Speaking in a 2006 interview, the Constantine star revealed that when Syme died, they were dating again. “I miss being a part of their lives and [Syme and Ava] being part of mine.” The actor, who was a pallbearer at Syme’s funeral, continued, “I wonder what the present would be like if they were here – what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be.”

Reclaiming life

Trying to overcome his losses, he channelled his grief into his character of the legendary assassin in the John Wick franchise.

“I thought it was one of the foundations of the role. I love his grief,” he said. “I relate to that, and I don’t think you ever work through it…Grief and loss don’t ever go away.”

Explaining how he manages his real-life grief, which “changes shape,” Reeves said, “Much of my appreciation of life has come through loss. Life is precious. It’s worthwhile.” He continues, “All you can do is hope that grief will be transformed and, instead of feeling pain and confusion, you will be together again in memory, that there will be solace and pleasure there, not just loss.”

Working through his sadness, Reeves, an introvert, admits he puts a conscious effort into reclaiming his life.

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“When the people you love are gone, you’re alone…I miss all the great things that will never be. It’s not fair! It’s absurd. I think, after loss, life requires an act of reclaiming. You have to reject being overwhelmed. Life has to go on.”

Rejecting the sadness and moving on, Reeves revealed in 2019 that he was in a relationship with visual artist Alexandra Grant.

“He’s such an inspiration to me,” Grant, 54, told People in September 2023. “He’s so creative, he’s so kind. He works so hard.”

Maybe now that the adored actor has found love, we will see him channelling his energy into more light-hearted roles!

We agree with Alexandra Grant. Keanu Reeves is an inspiration and we are all very lucky to have him in this world.