Former “Friends” star Matthew Perry is being called “evil” and “a self-indulgent tool” after saying, essentially, that the world would be a better place if Keanu Reeves had died instead of River Phoenix or Heath Ledger.
“Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us?” Perry writes in his upcoming memoir “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing,” which was excerpted in the New York Post on Wednesday.
Perry doubled down on his Keanu-bashing in his recollection about the death of Chris Farley in 1997: “I punched a hole through Jennifer Aniston’s dressing room wall when I found out,” adding again, “Keanu Reeves walks among us.”
Among the stars leaping to Keanu’s defense on Wednesday was Lynda Carter, who tweeted, “Come on… Keanu Reeves is like one of those frozen cakes. Nobody doesn’t like him!” and “West Side Story” star Rachel Zegler, who wrote, “Personally thrilled that Keanu Reeves walks among us.”
Alex Winter, Reeves’ costar in three “Bill and Ted” movies, didn’t name Perry when he tweeted, “The surest way to consign yourself to the dustbin of the 90’s is to take potshots that no one has made since the 90’s.”
It may seem hard to believe today, when Reeves is one of the most beloved actors on the planet who is known for his kindness to fans and behind-the-scenes-crew, but in the ’90s, Perry was sadly not alone in singling the actor out for derision.
While fans praised the Oscar-nominated Phoenix for his delivery of his Shakespearean lines in 1991’s “My Own Private Idaho,” co-star Keanu got nothing but jeers and was mocked again over his English accent in 1992’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” In 2015, Francis Ford Coppola recalled how much hate Keanu got for his performance. “Maybe I wasn’t as critical of him, but that’s because I like him, personally, so much,” he told EW.
While Reeves drew praise from critics including Roger Ebert and Janet Maslin for his role as surfing FBI agent in 1991’s “Point Break,” this Washington Post reviewer wrote, “Reeves … seems perpetually on the verge of a thought that can’t quite work its way to the surface. He’s charismatically puppy-brained and, watching him, we get caught up in the slow-motion meshing of his mental gears.” And the long-running “Point Break Live” in Los Angeles purposefully cast a presumably untalented audience member in the Johnny Utah role every night.
While “Speed” was a box office hit, it wasn’t really wasn’t until “The Matrix” in 1999 that Hollywood at large began to take Keanu seriously. (See this bit from “The Critic,” where Keanu is mocked for reading too slowly in the fictitious sequel, “Speed Reading.”)
Now, of course, Reeves is beloved not just for his box office, but for being a down-to-earth celebrity who everyone wants to cameo in their movie, including Ali Wong, Key & Peele, Pixar and DC.
Here are a few more tweets in Keanu’s defense:
Geek Girl Diva wrote, “Keanu Reeves is one of the kindest, most generous people on the planet. Heath Ledger and River Phoenix were incredibly talented. I’m happy you’re sober, Matthew, but you were never in their league” and @ThisIsBrandyB wrote, “When you consider how heartbroken Keanu Reeves STILL is over River Phoenix’s death… this is especially evil.”