Lance Reddick Talks 'John Wick' Blu-ray/DVD
by Jami Philbrick
Lance Reddick is truly a workingman’s actor!
After appearing in small parts on various film and television projects including HBO’s OZ, Reddick finally received attention for his role as Cedric Daniels on another critically acclaimed HBO series, The Wire. Since then, he has played pivotal roles on two J.J. Abrams created series, first as Matthew Abaddon on Lost, and then as Phillip Broyles on Fringe. Recently, he has had arcs on American Horror Story: Coven, and The Blacklist, as well as appearing in the new Amazon Prime series Bosch. Reddick has also been a fixture on the big screen as of late with roles in Jonah Hex, White House Down, Oldboy, The Guest, and John Wick, which will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD beginning February 3rd.
John Wick was directed by stunt coordinators Chad Stahelski (The Wolverine) and David Leitch (Conan the Barbarian), and stars Keanu Reeves in the title role. In the film, ex-hitman and recent widower John Wick (Reeves) comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that are responsible for the senseless murder of his new dog. However, this means stepping back into the criminal underground world that he left behind, and confronting his former mafia boss employer (Michael Nyqvist) and his out-of-control son (Alfie Allen). Reddick plays Charon, the manager of an exclusive hotel that caters to thieves and killers, where Wick use to be a regular. In addition to Reeves, Nyqvist, Allen and Reddick, the movie also features appearances by Willem Dafoe (Out of the Furnace), Adrianne Palicki (Red Dawn), Dean Winters (Don Peyote), John Leguizamo (Chef), Thomas Sadoski (Wild), Clarke Peters (The Best of Me), Bridget Moynahan (I, Robot), and Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides).
I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with the great Lance Reddick about his work on John Wick. The veteran actor discussed his latest movie, the script, why it’s not a typical revenge film, working with directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, acting opposite Keanu Reeves, and how Reddick found inspiration for his role in the most unlikely place.
Here is what Lance Reddick had to say about John Wick Blu-ray/DVD:
IAR: To begin with, what was your initial reaction when you first read the script for John Wick?
Lance Reddick: It was one of those things where it came and then I had to shoot very quickly after I got the offer. I think it was in the fall of 2013. I had a whole bunch of stuff going on at that time. I remember when I got the offer and then I got the script. I read it and the first thing that stuck me was how tight it was. It's a basic revenge story. It was almost a sub genre within action films. I just felt it was really tight and there was something that was kind of really original about it. The other thing was that when I got the offer I didn’t realize the character was supposed to be African. So I double-checked the script on that and then I was really excited to be able to do that as well.
While the movie is in some ways a standard revenge film, it is different in that John Wick is not seeking revenge for the death of his wife but rather for the murder of the puppy that she left him before she died. Do you think that aspect of the story is what makes the movie so relatable to audiences, because everyone understands what it’s like to lose a pet?
Reddick: Yes and in a way we subconsciously identify with John Wick through his wife all throughout the film the way he does. The filmmakers pulled that off. The directors really directed the hell out of this movie. I was really impressed.
Can you talk about working with longtime stunt coordinators and first time feature film directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch?
Reddick: It was one of those things where I flew in and worked all day long. I was really just there all day long shooting all my stuff. One of the things I find so interesting about this film is for something that is so action heavy and action driven, it’s really an actor’s character piece. In that regard it was a lot of fun. I felt the directors let me do my thing a little bit.
All of your scenes in the movie are with Keanu Reeves, what was it like acting opposite him?
Reddick: The thing that was cool about it was that Keanu had been shooting for a while he had shot a lot. He was exhausted when we were shooting because he had shot the big fight scene between him and Michael Nyqvist the day before. I think he did almost all of his own stunts except for falling from the balcony so he was beat. By the same token Keanu really locks in on you as his character when he works with you. He was really a joy to work with him. It was fascinating to watch him work. He’s very watchable. I think he’s a physical genius. But I remember there was one scene where he’s coming into the hotel before he’d been shot. He looked at me and it was chilling because his eyes seemed to go black, like he was looking through me. That was really eerie.
As an actor, how did you react to that in the scene?
Reddick: It’s one of those scenes that’s tricky because I feel like it was really Keanu’s character giving me the look, so I had to respond to him as my character. We had multiple takes, so the first time it kind of threw me because Lance responded by being scared of the guy. Hopefully if there’s a sequel you’ll see more of my character. But anybody who works in that hotel is going to have some kind of badass backstory. So for me the challenge was to take everything in stride. I feel like that’s one of the big things about my character, no matter what happens he takes everything in stride.
Finally, was your character clearly written in the script, or did you have to bring a lot to that role in order to make it work?
Reddick: Well, it’s a little bit of both. It wasn’t that the script said anything in particular about who this character was. The scenes in the script were pretty generic. But by the same token, I just feel that as an actor whenever you’re reading something … I really learned this my first year of drama school because we did so much Chekhov, you have to learn how to infer things about your character from how other people interact with you. For me, what I inferred from the script was that my character had been working at the hotel for a long time, and that he had a very intimate relationship with Ian McShane’s character. If you’re the manager of a hotel that caters to some of the world’s top killers and thieves, then you’ve got to have some kind of badass in you. The other thing that’s interesting is when I read the character for some reason I kept thinking of Hector Elizondo’s character in Pretty Woman.
What were you able to take from that character in Pretty Woman and apply to your role in John Wick?
Reddick: What I thought Elizondo brought to that character was elegance, and the fact that he could handle anything that was thrown at him as though it were nothing. That’s what I tried to bring to my role in John Wick.