The Truth About Keanu Reeves And His Asian Roots


There’s a photo that’s been skidding around the internet.

It shows Keanu Reeves, whose career has been reignited by the success of the John Wick franchise and his brilliantly self-deprecating turn in the Netflix rom-com Always Be My Maybe, sitting on a couch with a smiling, bespectacled older East Asian woman in a flowered print top. 

In truth, the picture itself isn’t particularly notable. 

It’s actually the image’s whimsically spelled caption that has made the meme go viral: “Keanu Reeve’s grandma is Chinese Haiwaiian.”

That Reeves has Asian Pacific Islander heritage isn’t exactly new information. 

From his earliest initiation into Hollywood, Reeves has always been referred to as the “son of a Chinese-Hawaiian father and an English mother.”

And his last two films before the John Wick trilogy were both films with predominantly Asian casts: the old-school kung fu genre revival Man of Tai Chi and 47 Ronin, a loose remake of the samurai epic Chūshingura, in which Reeves starred as a half-Japanese, half-English outcast named Kai.

But every generation seemingly has to renew its love for Keanu, and then, shortly thereafter, rediscover that he has Asian ancestry . . .

Read more by at Jeff Yang at Inkstone