The day I shook Keanu Reeves’s hand

It was like cool jazz.
The grip of an FBI agent paid to surf.
The secret handshake of slacker Ted.
The touch of saviour Neo.
And the gesture of one of Hollywood’s most interesting actors ever.
It was the day I shook Keanu Reeves’s hand at the Sydney Opera House at The Matrix Revolutions launch in 2003. Then a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald, I had found myself in the VIP section along with co-star Jada Pinkett Smith, producer Joel Silver and Reeves. I spoke to Smith about her Matrix video game (I enjoyed it), saw Paris Hilton at the bar … and then it was on to Keanu.
The meeting was remarkable for several reasons.
Firstly, Keanu looked almost EXACTLY like he does on screen. Having met a who’s who of Hollywood in the flesh, I can tell you just how rare that is. He looked handsome and healthy, his eyes penetrating and full of secret depths.
I congratulated him on the movie and thrust my hand towards his as he lay on a couch. His grip was soft yet strong. Looking into his eyes, I sensed he was a man of deep humanity – an impression only furthered later by learning more about his incredible life and times.
For a second I felt like his bro. I felt like Bill from Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Bodhi from Point Break; Morpheus from The Matrix.
Every meeting one has with an interview subject – particularly a Hollywood star – involves a type of energy exchange. After a killer interview one is left with a type of high, not only if the star has delivered great quotes, but also from the contact with the extraordinary individual themselves. It is almost a type of osmosis: as if we temporarily absorb some of their luminescence, their star power, their charisma.
With Keanu I felt all this and more.
I was recently reminded of our meeting – and his hands – after seeing John Wick 2, seeing those hands in action, striking down bad guys in close-quarters combat or shooting his foes in an excitingly fighting style not seen in recent cinematic memory.
John Wick is the action franchise the world needs right now: the spiritual successor to the Bourne films, a celluloid kinetic explosion of action and intrigue.
“Have you ever walked out of a film so struck by awe and wonder your skin is abuzz?” wrote critic Angelica Jade Bastien.
“Has a film ever left you so joyful and drunk on adrenaline that it made you more hopeful about the world?”
Wise words and true.
Particularly if you’ve shaken the star’s hand.

My new military thriller Game Of Killers is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

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