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His Excellent-cy

Keanu Reeves on his future outside the Matrix -- Hollywood's most mysterious leading man is saying goodbye to Neo and hello to romance

Keanu Reeves | SHADES OF GRAY Reeves' wide-ranging choices -- from action hits to acclaimed indies -- have marked him as a Hollywood enigma
Image credit: Keanu Reeves Photograph by Robert Maxwell
SHADES OF GRAY Reeves' wide-ranging choices -- from action hits to acclaimed indies -- have marked him as a Hollywood enigma

Keanu Reeves is 39 years old and through making apologies. In younger days, he told interviewers he was a ''meathead,'' sensing their dim opinions of him and meeting them head-on with bodacious self-effacement. (Call it the Ted Offensive.) But little of that old self-consciousness is in evidence now. The tics are still there, of course. He fidgets constantly, crossing and recrossing his legs, Gumby-ing his obscenely thick hair from side to side. Any query that comes across as even vaguely invasive is deflected with polite monosyllables, but one mention of Hamlet elicits an entire soliloquy (''If it be now, 'tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now.'') and a bardolater's joke about his all-black outfit. (''My inky cloak,'' he cracks.)

Reeves is famous for quoting Shakespeare at the drop of a hat, but you can see why Hamlet agrees with him: a regal yet mercurial soul, confounding our often low expectations. And confound Reeves has, every step of the way. With ''The Matrix Revolutions,'' he concludes a sci-fi trilogy that entranced audiences in 1999 and befuddled them in 2003, grossing nearly $1.2 billion worldwide along the way. Whether it will lure back those whose heads are still spinning from ''Reloaded'' is today's multimillion-dollar question; Reeves himself admits the second movie was ''dense'' and says that it ''benefits from a second viewing.''

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