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Keanu Reeves reveals story behind ‘sad Keanu’ meme

"I'm just eating a sandwich, man!"

By Joe Goggins

A still from The Matrix Resurrections trailer
Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves in 'The Matrix Resurrections' (Credit: Warner Bros/YouTube)

Keanu Reeves has explained the context to the photograph that became the ‘Sad Keanu’ meme.

As he continues his promotional duties ahead of the release of ‘The Matrix Resurrections’, the actor was confronted with the picture on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’. Taken over a decade ago, it sees an apparently downcast Reeves sitting on a park bench, a sandwich in his hand. It quickly went viral, becoming a go-to meme for sad situations and inspiring a wave of support for the Canadian-American, including a ‘Cheer Up Keanu’ day. You can watch the clip below.

“I’m just eating a sandwich, man!” laughed Reeves as he was presented with the image. “So, you’re not actually sad in ‘Sad Keanu’?” asked Colbert. “I was thinking,” the actor replied. “I had some stuff going on. I was hungry.” The discussion was prompted when Colbert asked about Reeves’ debut comic book, ‘BRZRKR Vol. 1’, which features a frame of the title character apparently inspired by the ‘Sad Keanu’ photo. 

The book, which was released last month, was co-written with New York Times-bestselling author Matt Kindt and legendary comic book artist Ron Garney. As Reeves told Colbert, ‘BRZRKR Vol. 1’ follows the story of “a character who was born 80,000 years ago, who’s half-human and half a God, and is cursed with a compulsion to violence.”

The interview with Colbert was not the first time that Reeves has been quizzed on the meme. Back in 2011, during an appearance on BBC Breakfast whilst promoting the romantic comedy crime film ‘Henry’s Crime’, he told Susanna Reid and Charlie Stayt: “it was good, clean fun. Do I wish that I didn’t get my picture taken while I was eating a sandwich on the streets of New York? Yeah…in general, you want to lead a private life.”

‘The Matrix Resurrections’ is released in the UK next Wednesday (December 22). It is the first new instalment in the series since the release of ‘The Matrix Revolutions’ in 2003. The final trailer was released earlier this month, depicting Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss returning to their iconic roles of Neo and Trinity, respectively.