Keanu Reeves Delightfully Addresses Those Viral Sad Keanu Photos

Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix Resurrections
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Keanu Reeves is obviously an icon of our generation, and one who has remained part of pop culture for over 30 years. At one point, it was for saying “Whoa!” in the Bill and Ted movies, and at another point, it was for dodging bullets as Neo in The Matrix. Then in 2010, paparazzi photographs of Reeves eating a sandwich alone on a bench turned the actor into a wildly popular meme known as “Sad Keanu.” Years later, he’s now setting the record straight. 

Obviously Keanu Reeves is well aware of the “Sad Keanu” meme. When he recently was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the photo came up, to which Reeves clarified what was going on. In his words: 

I’m just eating a sandwich, man! Listen, I was thinking. I had some stuff going on, I was hungry.

Stephen Colbert brought back the photo to compare it with a panel from his comic BRZRKR, which features a visual that seems to reference “Sad Keanu.” After fans noticed that the Boom Studios! comic book series Keanu Reeves created and co-wrote has an image reminiscent of the meme, Colbert brought it to his attention. 

Keanu Reeves didn’t know BRZRKR artist Ron Garney would play tribute to the meme, but he does believe he might have done it on purpose to be “kinda meta.” Take a look at the side-by-side of “Sad Keanu” and one panel in BRZRKR:

Sad Keanu meme, Keanu Reeves guest appearance 2021 on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert screenshot

(Image credit: CBS)

This has to be a reference, doesn’t it? The illustration sees the character holding his hands in almost exactly the same way and looking down in introspection. Although in the case of BRZRKR, the comic book protagonist is dealing with being an ancient and immortal half-God, as one does! 

The “Sad Keanu” meme originally became popular on Reddit before also finding popularity on Tumblr and inspiring other blog pages. It was later decided by fans to dedicate a day to the Keanu Reeves meme with “Cheer Up Keanu Day” (on June 15), which inspired fans to write letters, make phone calls and message board posts to remind the public of how great the actor is. The unofficial holiday went viral as well, with over 14,000 people joining the Facebook group associated with it, per TIME

After Stephen Colbert took Keanu Reeves down memory lane with the “Sad Keanu” photo, the late night host asked the Matrix actor if he knows what it is about himself that makes him such a great meme over the years. Reeves said he had “no clue,” before randomly breaking into a unique cover of “Lean On Me.” Check it out: 

And there’s another iconic Keanu moment! Singing Keanu has been activated – meme to your hearts content, internet! Reeves is back in action as Neo for The Matrix Resurrections, which is coming to HBO Max and theaters on December 22. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.