“It’s too ethnic”: Keanu Reeves Was Under Immense Pressure to Change His Name to Chuck Spadina For His Acting Career
Our name becomes closely related to our identity as a human, it is synonymous with who we are and how society addresses us. For us name is the primary identity, the first thing someone gets to know about us. If we were to change our name the whole world around us would be different and estranged. The horror of someone not knowing us anymore is too much to handle.
Unfortunately, this horror is the reality of almost all celebrities who have had to undergo a name change along with many other changes to build an on-screen persona. While some have adopted this system and reached new heights of fame, many continue to stand against it, Keanu Reeves is among the latter.
Keanu Reeves’s name was too ethnic for Hollywood
The John Wick star recalled in the Smartless Podcast that he was asked to change his name, as his real name was too ethnic. This was when the actor has just started. This sent him into extreme dilemma and confusion.
“I got my first car when I was 20, and I drove to Hollywood. Of course, when I got here, they wanted to change my name. Yeah, they were like, ‘Keanu, it’s too ethnic.’ I remember I had driven across the country and I remember they told me… I was driving up and down along the beach in Santa Monica going, ‘What the fuck?’”
The Constantine star drove around the beach lost and helpless, he tried to change his name but it did not work out. Finally leading to an epiphany that he cannot change his name.
The Canadian star tried a variety of names, many were not approved by his managers and the rest did not stick. He would just not respond to any name other than his. He continues to recall the series of events that finally led him to give up, and not change his name ever.
“I was like, ‘OK, well, what’s my name going to be?’ And I was like, ‘Templeton?’ So, eventually, I came up with my first and middle initial, so I was Casey Reeves. Oh, my god. But then I had auditions and they’d be like, ‘Casey?’ and I like wouldn’t even look up. Eventually, I went back to my agents and I was like, ‘I can’t change my name.’”
“One of the first plays I ever did, I was playing John Procter and one of the lines is like, ‘Because it is my name because I can have no other,’ and that was just running through my head,”
It is indeed inspiring that Reeves stuck to his roots, his name is now not just synonymous with his personality but also with the films he had done. Especially known for his performances in The Matrix and John Wick franchise, Reeves is doing well in his career.
His latest film, John Wick: Chapter 4 is currently in cinemas.