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Courtesy of Meredith Nirui

My mum was a Keanu Reeves superfan

The Tumblr set might have a thing for 90s Keanu, but back then one mum’s obsession beat all others – from Dogstar gigs to stumbling onto The Matrix set, her daughter takes us back

Keanu Reeves fangirled hard this week – discussing his love of martial arts star Sonny Chiba on Japanese television, he was taken by surprise when the man himself popped onto set. But back in the USA, our writer knows the story behind one of Keanu Reeves’ biggest superfans – her mum. 

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been a Keanu Reeves super fan. She’s had a non-stop obsession with the actor and musician since 1994, and it’s one she’s been unable to shake. “It has nothing to do with the fame,” she told me. “I like him because he is a beautiful person who has endured the same struggles and challenges in life as me. But, if I was to say it has nothing to do with his looks, I would be lying.”

Meredith Nirui, my mom, moved to Japan in 1989 to escape the Islamic leadership transition in Iran, and became more aware of western culture after witnessing the legions of Hollywood-obsessed Japanese girls in Kobe. After my father forced her to watch the movie Speed, starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves, my mom took an immediate interest in the Canadian actor. “I remember absolutely hating action movies and I was really mad your dad forced me to watch this film with tons of explosions and violence,” she said, “but the moment I started watching Speed, I was so mesmerized by Keanu. I loved absolutely everything about him, and he had such a great energy. I can't quite explain it.”

From this moment on, she religiously kept tabs on the actor in the media, while forming an impressive VHS collection of Keanu's films — Point Break, Feeling Minnesota, My Own Private Idaho—you name it. “I joined a Keanu fan club online and would visit the forums every night and stay on for hours. I would put you and your brother to bed and rush to the computer,” she said. “From the web, I learned he was the bass player in the post-grunge band Dogstar. They became my new favourite band.”

“A completely random girl asked me if I wanted to meet her in Chicago and drive around to all the shows. I was really scared of meeting a stranger off the Internet, but I had Keanu in mind and would do whatever it took to get to him” – Meredith Nirui

By 1996, my mom had built a detailed Keanu shrine on the interior of our linen closet, featuring a bunch of posters and cut-outs from TV Weekly and other tabloid mags, along with a life-size framed Keanu poster stapled to our living room wall. When she discovered through a forum that Dogstar was touring in the U.S, she saw this as an opportunity not only to see him in the flesh, but to potentially profess her love for him face-to-face. “A completely random girl asked me if I wanted to meet her in Chicago and drive around to all the shows. I was really scared of meeting a stranger off the Internet, but I had Keanu in mind and would do whatever it took to get to him.” She met with the stranger in Chicago, and they drove for days over the span of two weeks to see Keanu play each and every show. 

“While I was watching Keanu play his first show in Toronto, my bag was stolen. I burst out crying, and Keanu stopped playing and approached me in the crowd and asked if I was all right. It was such a wonderful, considerate thing to do.”

Meredith further strengthened her relationship with the actor by sending him handcrafted gifts. “I had made Keanu a beanie and mailed it to his PA, and Keanu mailed me back a picture of him wearing it. At the second show, in Pittsburgh, he expressed to me how much he loved the beanie, and how he would like a beanie with ‘Norton 1972’ knitted on it, as that was his model of motorcycle. I stayed up till 3AM that night knitting the beanie, and the next night at his show in Cleveland I gave it to him. It felt like we were old friends. He was so thankful, and crazily enough, a few years later he wore it in a shoot for GQ Magazine.” Over the course of two years, my mom saw Dogstar play over ten shows, and insists she "never got sick of them."

In 1998, she happened to stumble across the set of The Matrix in Australia. “I was picking up tickets for an art show at this private studio where they film big-budget Hollywood movies, and I got lost, and happened to walk into the set for The Matrix. I saw Keanu and he said hello and was so surprised to see me there. I assume he had told security it was fine for me to be present, as it was not a public set—it was just me and the crew. I stayed for an hour and watched him practice his lines and perform stunts. It was so amazing. I think fate had brought us together again.”

Although she is not as aggressively obsessed anymore, and it’s kind of an inside joke in our family, my mom says Keanu will always have a special place in her heart. “I think we had a karmic connection and I will always love him. He is so personable, sweet and the hottest actor ever. No one can compete.”