Forget Keanu Reeves, Chuck Spadina Was Almost Star of ‘John Wick,’ ‘The Matrix, and ‘Speed’

by Chase Thomas
(Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

We all know Keanu Reeves. The longtime Hollywood legendary actor has starred in so many films over the years from The Matrix to Harball to John Wick. Reeves has been everywhere, especially of late, as he has become once again one of the hottest names in Hollywood. Did you know, though, Outsiders, that Chuck Spadina was almost the star of John Wick, The Matrix and Speed?

Yes, we’re serious. It was not that Spadina was a different person than Reeves, it was a stage name for the latter that he considered using before ultimately not doing so.

He told the story of how it happened, or almost happened rather, on Good Morning America where he said“So, I’m 20 years old, I’m in my first car, I wanted to be in movies, I went to Hollywood.” He continued, “And I get there and they’re like, ‘we wanna change your name’.” According to Reeves, Hollywood did not like the name Keanu, as they found it to be a bit too “exotic”, so they wanted to change it. So, Reeves did not take the potential name change all that seriously and threw out Chuck Spadina hilariously enough.

It’s funny to imagine just how different everything would have unfolded if he had gone through with the big-time change.

Keanu Reeves in ‘Hardball’

Reeves really broke out for the first time in Hollywood in 1999. Just after the first of the trilogy for The Matrix movies came out. Not too long after that, he joined Brian Robbins’ Hardball as the leading actor. It was obviously quite a different role for the Hollywood star, and it played out that way on the set.

Robbins told The Hollywood Reporter, “The Matrix was such a big thing.” He continued, “The kids would goof around with Keanu, re-enacting scenes, like dodging bullets in slow motion. They were in awe of Keanu. All these kids were new and raw and had never made a film before.”

Everyone was amazed to be working with such a big star from such a big movie. The kids were also not even actors yet, and it was just a big deal to have Keanu Reeves on the set. Michael B. Jordan said, “While we were in production, Keanu took the whole cast out to dinner and we had a chance to meet [his Matrix co-star] Laurence Fishburne. To this day, I still remember thinking to myself in astonishment, ‘I guess this is what movie stars do — take their casts out to dinner with other big actors.’ So much respect for Keanu and Laurence. It really was such a cool moment with two of my heroes.”

Reeves made a big impression on Jordan and the rest of the cast. He did not have to go out of his way like he did. However, Reeves was a class act and it is still remembered and appreciated by Jodan today.