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Keanu in the Fast Lane

TORONTO -- Keanu Reeves, Hollywood Ur dude, is lunging, thrusting and dancing around a Toronto parking lot on a brisk spring morning. He's lean as a greyhound, elegantly dressed, his hair cropped in a ruff, "Repo Man" style.And he's quoting...

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TORONTO -- Keanu Reeves, Hollywood Ur dude, is lunging, thrusting and dancing around a Toronto parking lot on a brisk spring morning. He's lean as a greyhound, elegantly dressed, his hair cropped in a ruff, "Repo Man" style.

And he's quoting the Bard. "When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state..."

"It's a sonnet," explains Keanu, a Hawaiian word for a cool breeze over the mountains. "Shakespeare is physically thrilling, it goes into my brain and into my heart."

At the moment, the actor is being watched by Dina Meyer, his co-star in "Johnny Mnemonic," a cyberpunk action adventure in its final days of shooting. Her mind is not focused on Elizabethan verse. As Reeves spins, leaps and tosses off a few more lines of iambic pentameter, Meyer darts across the parking lot to pin him against the trailer. "We only have one almost kissing scene," she bemoans later. "I can imagine people watching and saying, 'When are they going to get it on?' "

Ever since he played Ted, the totally excellent dude of the "Bill and Ted" adventures, it's been assumed Keanu Reeves is Ted -- airhead, air guitar and all -- which is to say, he isn't always taken seriously. Even Reeves admits, "The line has definitely been blurred." He's known more for his sex appeal -- to both men and women -- a wild streak, dirty jeans and hair and Norton bike than for his film performances, which, from "My Own Private Idaho" to the "Bill and Ted" efforts, "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Little Buddha," have been uneven, at best.

But now, Reeves seems poised for the ultimate unlikely development in his most unlikely career: to break out as the next Arnold-sized action star with this weekend's release of "Speed" and follow that up with next year's "Johnny Mnemonic."

"He's an action hero for the Nineties," gushes "Speed" director Jan De Bont, who set Reeves up with an Olympic gymnast trainer to effect the transformation from dude to stud.
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