Years and years ago, so long ago it was before social media (gasp), I was a girl growing up loving movies, loving the escapism of a good story, loving the adventures of Goonies, Brat Packs and Bill and Ted…anything with Keanu Reeves. Years later, as a young woman, I worked in LA and New York in the film industry as an aspiring filmmaker/actor/photographer/artist and…in 2005, while visiting my best friend on location in Chicago, I had a Keanu encounter. I had a Keanu moment, if you will. This set in motion a year of running inspired by Keanu (I have no shame in admitting this now, but for a few years I do remember feeling like that fact made me somehow silly), which led to my 2006 Keanu encounter.
It occurred to me when I was running recently, I haven’t written about my Keanu story…and it is tangentially related to running, so, without further ado, Runitlikeamom readers, please enjoy my Keanu story:
In Spring of 2005, I finished a freelance job in New York City and instead of flying back to Los Angeles where I lived, I flew to Chicago to visit (the future godmother to my daughter) India, one of my best friends, on the set of The Lake House, where she was working for the director of the film. Ale, as he was called, was a jovial and generous, passionate and hilarious “independent filmmaker” working on his first big budget Hollywood studio movie. One night after shooting, India and I met up with Ale and some of the cast in a bar in the hotel where most of the cast and crew were staying. India warned me that it was unlikely Keanu would show up (Sandra Bullock- or “Sandy” as Ale called her- was not even a consideration. She kept to herself completely. I never met her.). India and I sat with Ale and Ebon (he played Keanu’s bother in the film and is now known as Marnie’s husband on Girls) and a producer or two. And then Keanu appeared- but was gone before I could meet him. I figured that was it. Like a Unicorn magician, poof! he was gone and I was out of luck. But then Ebon and Lynn (the girl friend that loses Keanu to Sandy in the movie) invited us up to a hotel room for drinks and suddenly…I was in a hotel room with Keanu Reeves. It was just me, India, Ebon, Lynn and Keanu. So it was an intimate setting. Keanu and I got to talking about cult classic films; I raved about Mommie Dearest. He suggested I revisit Dracula. Yes Keanu picked a movie he stars in.
Anyway, it was one of those awesome conversations that lead us to David Bowie. I had worked on a Vittel water commercial a year or two earlier and it was David Bowie’s first commercial. While scouting the shoot, I stood next to David Bowie in Julian Schnabel’s house as he admired the Schnabel brass bed. “I want the Schnabel brass bed,” he said to the director and the other more important people in the room (there were 5 or 6 people total and it was truly a fluke I was one of them). “Lou Reed has that bed. Ooh I have to have it.” I was dying on the inside hearing Bowie swoon and croon. It became one of my favorite anecdotes to share with people about that job. About David Bowie. It was second only to my other Bowie story. On set, I’d been named the point person for Bowie (they wanted to keep him relaxed and because I’d already spent time in pre-production with him I became the best option to tell him when the director called action and to convey other messages). So I’m standing in the inside hallway by the doorway with David Bowie, waiting for the director to call “action!” from outside, and Bowie, in all his rockstar beauty and epic glory, is actually a little nervous. His hair and makeup people buzz around him, the prop person adjusts the Vittel water bottle, and then I’m told to tell him it’s time. To my shock and awe, as he stands next to me ready to open the door and walk outside toward the camera, he whispers to himself, “You’re a rockstar, you’re a rockstar. I’m a rockstar. Im a rockstar.” Oh My God!!! OMG! I was calm and professional in the moment, but I was screaming on the inside, “You ARE A ROCKSTAR! You are David Bowie!!!” AMAZING!
So, as you can imagine, I told people that story because it is an insanely awesome story. Now cut back to Chicago, in a hotel room with Keanu and I’m having a one on one conversation with him. I’ve just told him the Schnabel brass bed story as a lead in to my “I’m a rockstar” story. But Keanu interrupts me and proceeds to tell me he’d heard a story recently about “a girl who worked with Bowie on his first commercial and he got nervous…” My insides were bursting…could it be? My mind was racing…is it possible? And then it happened. Keanu quoted Bowie saying “I’m a rockstar.” TO ME. I could not believe my ears. “That’s MY STORY,” I said. Keanu looked at me, confused and I repeated, “that girl- that was me. That’s my story!” And Keanu smiled and said, “I can’t believe I just told you your story. Kukucachu I am the walrus.” !!! Yes that all really happened.
The next night I went to the set, a lake house outside of Chicago, and visited with India and Ale. Keanu arrived on set in a golf cart and I felt him see me in the distance. I felt him and knew he was going to walk over to me. When he was about 5 feet from me, time slowed down and I watched as he said “Hi Kate,” and kissed me on the cheek. It would be one of the highlights of my life – seriously- until I met Grant and had my babies. Because, come on! For a brief moment in time, Keanu knew my name, was happy to see me, and kissed my cheek. Later, while shooting a scene in the house, he held up his hand to say hi to me and I felt like the most important person in the world.
I spent the next year in LA and NYC working and running. I was really into running anywhere from 3-8 miles, 5 or 6 days a week, with the occasional 13 miler thrown in. I had never run a race- not even a 5k- but I ran as if I were training for something. In fact, I was. I was training for the premiere of the movie. And then, it was June 2006, and India and I were getting dressed for the red carpet. I had blown $600 on a Betsey Johnson dress and green silk ribbon heels, so convinced that I would see Keanu and he would – in an instant- remember me and rush over to me. Yes, it’s ridiculous. I admit that now. But this was me at 29. I was single, and…apparently quite silly about Keanu Reeves! It was Keanu Reeves! Tell me you would not have done the same thing!
Well, the red carpet was a bit of a bust: Keanu was whisked away and we never had a chance to connect. I held out some hope the after party would make up for everything. It was a fun scene. At one point, India and I sat with Ale and Parker Posey. India introduced me to Parker and I was able to praise her for Dazed and Confused without sounding like a freak. Then Parker and I bonded over how klutzy we are with wine glasses. We both break them at an alarming rate. We all laughed a lot; it was great fun.
And then came my big moment. Keanu was near. India began talking to him and then he noticed my polaroid camera. In a scene I replayed too many times, Keanu did not show any sign of recognizing me (sigh) but said he wanted to take pictures with my polaroid; I balked because I only had 3 or 4 pictures left and I really wanted to get a picture with Keanu before I let someone take a picture…even if that someone was Keanu Reeves. I’m sure he was shocked to hear someone say no to him. I still can’t believe it, but I said, “Let me get one first and then if you really want to take one you can-” He cut me off, practically disgusted, definitely with contempt, and said, “I don’t really want to.” I looked at India – and since she knew me inside and out she understood the sheer horror of it all and she read my look, which was basically “take the picture, this is so painful I can’t even look at him!” I had to close my eyes because I couldn’t look directly into the darkness that was Contempt Keanu. Like…whoa.
And then the party was over. And Keanu was a movie star again, not my unicorn friend who was going to fall madly in love with me. I moved back to the East Coast, and in 2008 I ran my first marathon. In 2012 I had my first child. In 2015 I married the real life man of my dreams. And in 2016 we had our second child. A boy. We named him Keanu. Just kidding! We named him Grant, after his Daddy.