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My Keanu
My Keanu spreads

The ultimate fanzine from a woman who has loved Keanu Reeves for 20 years

Meredith Nirui’s love for the actor and rockstar gains new life with help from IDEA, designed by PZ Opassuksatit and edited by Nirui’s daughter @avanope

Even as my six-year-old self, watching Keanu Reeves in the 1994 classic action film Speed was a revelation. Later in life, I would catch him in films such as Chain Reaction, The Matrix trilogy, Constantine. I finally watched My Own Private Idaho in my early 20s, and, more recently – albeit, less enthusiastically – the John Wick series. But my love for Keanu was casual – rekindled in a cosy cinema seat or during a Sunday night Netflix binge. For one woman, Meredith Nirui, it was life.

In the 90s, Nirui was living in Australia with her husband, two children and her shrine to Reeves, which she had set up in her linen closet. When the actor/musician was touring Chicago with his band, Dogstar, Nirui realised it was time to pack a bag and follow him – a trip which lasted a fortnight. She had knitted him a beanie, which she gifted him when they first met – he was thankful, wore it, and Nirui was happy. But that wasn’t the end. A few years later, Nirui would unexpectedly walk onto the set of the Matrix, which was being filmed in Sydney. There he was; Keanu, in all his leathered-up, hunky glory. But sandwiched between these two landmark moments was a lot of love and admiration.

In honour of her two-decade-long journey, Nirui has created a fanzine full of photos, diary entries, clippings, photos of them together, and, even, a pull-out poster. Affectionately titled, My Keanu, the fanzine is art directed by PZ, edited by her daughter Ava (@avanope) – who also interviews her mum inside it. My Keanu is published by IDEA and sold via Dover Street Market, alongside merch, from today. Nirui’s shrine has even been revived and installed in the Comme des Garçons Trading Museum in Paris. Below, we catch up with Nirui to talk about her delightful new project, and, of course, everlasting love.

“I discovered later that my keen interest in him was much deeper than almost all other fans. I loved him for who he was – a person with integrity and morals” – Meredith Nirui

When exactly, and why, did you become obsessed with Keanu?

Meredith Nirui: After watching the movie Speed in 1996, I developed an interest in Keanu. Was it his good looks that created this unique interest? Not just that for me. I purchased his book and started reading about him. I was really time poor at the time, as I was doing my doctorate and raising two kids and working, but the curiosity to know this man behind the surface was so strong and fascinating. I got hooked. I discovered later that my keen interest in him was much deeper than almost all other fans. I loved him for who he was – a person with integrity and morals.

Did you ever meet other people with Keanu obsessions?

Meredith Nirui: Absolutely! I met many obsessed fans. I remember these girls crowding him and at times asking to go to his room. I remember vividly that this girl whispered into his ears to said how she wanted to go home with him and he smiled and gracefully said no. Of course there were fans that had more respect towards Keanu – these two girls from Japan, for example. They approached me and asked me to help them present their book to him. I took them backstage with me and stood by them as their translator. I remember that Keanu kept looking at me to interpret their speech as they presented him with the book. It was really heart warming. The other extreme was this girl who was pregnant and kept saying that she was going to name her child Keanu, and she wanted to score backstage passes from me. To me, being a devoted fan is one thing, and I love that he has genuine fans, but to have fans that are overly obsessed and have no regards for his boundaries is just not cool.     

What are the qualities in Keanu has that you admire, love, or obsess about most?

Meredith Nirui: I admire and love his humility the most! He is a man that genuinely cares about other living beings. I absolutely admire his love for reciting poems, which, to me, indicates his beautiful soul. I also love the fact that he is so very resilient and made it, despite all that life threw at him.

On a lighter note, I have to say that I learned some of Keanu’s lines from his movies and use them in everyday conversations. One of them was, ‘young, dumb and full of cum’, from the movie Point Break. Given that I learned English at school and university, I was not familiar with this type of slang. So, from the scene of the movie, I interpreted that Keanu’s boss meant that he was young and dumb and full of himself. Boy, oh boy – I used this so often with my colleagues, university professors and the likes. Looking back, I can remember some confused and surprised faces, but no one said anything. Many years later, I used it while talking with my son and he was the one who, in shock, asked me, ‘mum do you realise what you just said.’ To this day, my kids tease me about that.

Can you tell us about that fortnight that you followed him around on tour and, eventually, met him?

Meredith Nirui: Oh, that was a surreal experience for me. It started with an offer from fellow fan who lived in Chicago. She suggested that we should hire a car and follow the band to several concerts. I had young kids and had a demanding job, but, above all, I never thought that I could leave my family and just take off to follow a band. But seeing Keanu and getting to know him was too tempting. I sorted out my work and kids after thinking extensively about what I was about to do and its potential outcome, and left Sydney for Chicago. Although apprehensive about the lady that I was going to travel with, upon meeting her I realised that she was just normal and was not going to kill me! However, the next day when we picked up our rented car, I came to learn a very unwelcoming fact. This girl couldn’t drive and kept driving between lanes. After asking her, I discovered that she had only driven for two weeks in her entire life. Ouch! I had no choice but to drive in a foreign country, and on the wrong side of the road. Well, we survived... but just.

The shows were just awesome. I knew all the songs, as I purchased the albums and listened to them repeatedly. It was sort of Nirvana like music. For some unknown reason, I got backstage passes to all of the concerts – except for the House of Blues in LA. I remember after one of the shows Rob (the drummer) was excited to tell this group of fans that there is a girl that came all the way to America from Australia to see us. I said that it was me and we started talking. The whole experience was amazing and something that I will cherish forever. That is why I kept all my Keanu memorabilia stuff from 20 years ago, despite moving houses.

I also remember several other rather unwanted events. Of all places, Toronto was the last place that I thought I would be robbed. But it happened and all my important possessions including my tickets back to Sydney were stolen. That sucked and I remember seeing Keanu after the show as he walked out the stage. He didn’t exchange words, I don’t think so, but he asked me non-verbally are you OK? I was crying my eyes out. I felt completely disempowered. Nonetheless, I survived with minimal money and did enjoy the rest of the tour.

There is so much more to tell but perhaps I leave it at that.

“I have to say that I learned some of Keanu’s lines from his movies and use them in everyday conversations. One of them was, ‘young, dumb and full of cum’, from the movie Point Break” – Meredith Nirui

Walking onto the set of the Matrix sounds like a dream – how did that happen and what happened afterwards? Did Keanu recognise you? 

Meredith Nirui: They were shooting the Matrix in several locations in Sydney. My daughter Ava and I walked into the set in the middle of the city. The crew directed us to sit behind a block and we got to watch some of the scenes play out. However, what happened at Fox Studios was unbelievable! I had purchased some sold out tickets for the Sydney Film Festival online, and the lady that sold me the tickets asked me to go to Fox Studios, where she worked, to pick up the tickets. I worked at a hospital nearby and  I decided to use my lunch break and collect the tickets. All was good and I fetched the tickets and drove out to Fox Studios, or I tried to. I got lost and accidentally saw a big crowd of people down the road. Something told me this must be Keanu shooting the Matrix. I parked the car and walked down the hill. I stood very quietly and watched Keanu do his work. When they had a break, he saw me. He just nodded and it was clear that he recognised me. Well, after all, I was this young woman that, like a grandma, sat all night in the hotel to knit him a beanie that he requested.

How has your obsession grown, or ceased, in the current day?

Meredith Nirui: To be honest, I never stopped loving Keanu. I didn’t have a clue that he was so popular until Ava told me. I believe that there is a karmic connection between Keanu and myself. I would never forget Keanu. I am always here for him – not that he needs me! Saying this, since Ava told me about Keanu’s new work, I started watching his interviews. I would love to make a beanie and maybe a scarf with Arch knitted on it for his motorcycle company.

What can we all learn from Keanu?

Meredith Nirui: We can all learn to be humble. We can share our success with others and be mindful of our surroundings and the impermanence of life. We can learn to give. I always have said ‘the more I give, the more I receive’. We can share our joy and success with others and stand up for equality and human rights. Last but not least, we can learn to respect others’ boundaries and empathise with people like Keanu does.

Do you think it’s important to have celebrity obsessions?

Meredith Nirui: Not at all. I know people do get obsessed with celebrities but it is not a necessity. It is important to realise that these celebrities are entitled to their freedom! Their space and boundaries are important to be observed and respected. I never would cross my boundaries with celebrities or any other person. It is their right to have a private life that is just for them and nobody else’s business. Empathy is one quality that enables us all to be compassionate and understanding of other’s needs and rights.

My Keanu is available from IDEA now