According to a 2001 report in the Wall Street Journal, Keanu Reeves ‘doesn’t always seem motivated by money’. In fact, the report said, ‘on several films he has literally handed over part of his salary to other actors or crew’.
He offered to slash his salary in the 1996 film The Devil’s Advocate when co-star Al Pacino demanded more money. He did the same thing when Gene Hackman’s quote seemed out of Warner Bros reach. According to the report, Keanu Reeves also gave up his share of ‘back-end points’ for the Matrix sequels, which were filmed back-to-back in the early 2000s, and funneled them into the visual effects and costume departments of the films .
“He felt that they were the ones who made the movie and that they should participate,” the report quoted ‘one executive familiar with the situation’ as saying. The actor reportedly made $10 million for the first Matrix film, and after all was said and done, he ended up making $35 million. His profit-sharing deals for the sequels were higher, estimated to be between anywhere from $40 million to over $100 million.
Keanu was in no mood to discuss this long-running industry story about him at a 2019 press conference ahead of the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. He was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying, “I’d rather people didn’t know that. It was a private transaction. It was something I could afford to do, a worthwhile thing to do.”
The Matrix trilogy, directed by Lilly and Lana Wachowski, has made over $1.2 billion worldwide. The second and third films were released in 2003. The fourth Matrix film, the first to be directed by only one Wachowski – Lana – will be released in December. It also features Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lambert Wilson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Christina Ricci, and others.