Reeves is back as the rogue assassin in a new chapter of the John Wick franchise, packed with even more impressive stunts and fight choreography. The actor opened up about his process and the joys of working with a stellar cast.
INDULGE: Tell us how you choose your roles, and why this one?
KEANU: It starts with the script and the character, but also what the story is. Who is involved with it matters, too, and it all comes down to personal taste. For this, I really liked the character of John Wick and the tone as well where it’s this real world aspect mixed in with this underworld of criminals. I like the rules and the code; it just had something fresh about it.
INDULGE: Tell us about how you expanded the Universe of the franchise for this chapter.
KEANU: Chad really hooked into this idea of trying to study John Wick through the situations of other characters and was really drawn to the good, the bad, and the ugly. And so, enter Donnie Yen as Caine, and Shamier Anderson as “The Tracker.” We have Hiroyuki Sanada with whom I’ve worked with on 47 Ronan as Shimazu. And then there’s the antagonist of the piece, the Marquis, Bill Skarsgard. You’re following their stories as they are trying to get John Wick. Caine and John Wick have a past, “Tracker” is kind of a younger character who is outside of it and is not an assassin, but then takes a deal and becomes one. These characters come after John and there are moments when we have to work together against The High Table. So that dynamic is a way of opening up the world. Who are these characters that exist in this world and how do they interact with John?
INDULGE: How did you keep the action fresh?
KEANU: We wanted to bring the muscle cars back. They found us a cool Barracuda, so now it’s about smashing people, hitting people, getting on it, throwing them off with little 180’s, setting them off…Then there was the drifter on the car shooting the people…And we were doing like three lanes of traffic, and these gun fights within the traffic, and some judo, and then there’s dog hits…
INDULGE: What was the training process like?
KEANU: The training went longer than three months. It was five days a week four hours a day. So it was a two-hour morning session then lunch, then two-hour afternoon session. For me it’s just been awesome to work with these people. What they shared with us is the affection they have for the John Wick films. On The Matrix movies I would be fighting hundreds of Agent Smiths and I’d be training with the stunt men for 6 weeks. I’d train from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. For this I got trained in certain moves like throws and how to be thrown so I gained what we call a “toolbox”. I’d keep adding to that as I would be working with this Army Special Ops guy who’d be showing me different techniques. So Wick does a whole different bunch of techniques.
INDULGE: What was it like working alongside such a great cast, including Lance Redick, Ian McShane, and your old mate, Laurence Fishburne?
KEANU: If they like John Wick, they like him because Charon likes him. We were on the set and Lance said to Chad (Director, Chad Stahelski), “I have this accent that I’ve always wanted to do.” And Chad was like, “Let’s hear it.” And so Charon was born. The elegance of that performance and the heart of that character can be felt when John Wick walks into the hotel lobby for the first time. Having Ian McShane back, was such a joy. It’s nice to see McShane being part of avenge and revenge. For me personally, Fishburne is safe harbor. He’s been such a mentor to me since working on The Matrix. We have a friendship and it’s cool to be working with him again. What he brings to the Bowery King is so special. Who else could be the King?
— Kelly Fine
This interview had been edited for length and clarity. Special thanks to Lionsgate.