Queer writer and director Bruce LaBruce shared some old publicity photos to his Instagram yesterday. The shots feature a young Keanu Reeves and fellow actor Carl Marotte. They were taken to promote a play the two men starred in back in Toronto in 1984.
As LaBruce explains, “In 1984 a theatrical production of playwright Brad Fraser’s “Wolfboy” premiered in Toronto co-starring two young unknown actors named Carl Marotte and Keanu Reeves.
“My friend John Palmer, who, twenty years later, adapted my hustler short stories from my J.D.s fanzine for a movie called “Sugar,” directed the original production.”
View this post on Instagram
The images prompted a large online response, as many people had never heard of the production. Others marveled at how young Reeves looks. If shot in spring 1984, he was 19-years old and still a drama student.
Wolfboy was written by Canadian playwright and screenwriter, Brad Fraser.
Based in a mental institution, Reeves’ character was “an innocent teen who got sucked into a relationship with a deranged boy who believes he is a werewolf,” according to a documentary made later on Reeves’ career.
The same documentary says, “The play’s homoerotic undertones made it a cult hit with Toronto’s gay community.”
“He was absolutely gorgeous,” the play’s director, John Palmer, said of casting Reeves.
“He was a knockout…There was an honesty about him. He had so much energy that he didn’t know what to do with.”
Reeves was born in Beirut to an English mother and US father. His parents separated when he was three and he was raised primarily in Toronto. He came to Hollywood attention with his role in the 1986 movie, River’s Edge. He went to achieve A-list fame with movies such as Point Break, Speed and the Matrix trilogy.
At the same time, he also made arthouse movies, most notably starring alongside River Phoenix as street hustlers in My Own Private Idaho. He returns to screens in 2020 with Bill & Ted Face The Music. New Matrix and John Wick movies are also in the works.
Director, writer, photographer, and pornographer Bruce LaBruce is Canadian and has also spent much of his life in Toronto. He published the queer punk zine J.Ds in the mid-80s before branching out into filmmaking. His works include No Skin Off My Ass (1993) and L.A. Zombie (2010).
Although not achieving the same Hollywood success as Reeves, Marrotte has maintained a successful acting career in Canada, where he is a TV regular.