‘John Wick: Chapter Two': Common Teases His “Rival” Role, Working With Keanu Reeves
by Chris Cabin
For the generally impatient, the wait to hear more about what exactly the deal with John Wick: Chapter Two, the anticipated sequel to 2014’s beloved Keanu Reeves-fronted action spectacle, has been particularly arduous. Last week, we got an official synopsis and before that, there was a small deluge of facts about the setting and casting, but the sense of who the characters might be outside of the titular super-assassin.
Today brings another small sampling of information about the sequel, this time from one of the leading cast members. During a recent interview with our very own Christina Radish, Common, who is set to play one of the villains in Chad Stahelski-helmed sequel, highlighted a few things about how he approached his character, who he describes as more of a “rival” than a villain. He also talked about how the sequel will compare with the original film, which is where is comments begin:
“The sequel is taking the world of John Wick – and I love the world of John Wick – and elevating it and taking it higher, but you’ve got the essence of what John Wick is. It’s not the same story repeated. It’s heightened in the environment, the action and the struggle for John Wick. The action and the fighting is just growing and getting better. It’s next level.”
He’s right in speaking about the world of John Wick as a unique and heightened creation, as one of the great draws of the original film is the stylized environs, dialogue, and imagery of the film. It’s good to know that the creators will attempt to bring that back while also trying a few new tricks out. From there, Common spoke specifically about his character:
“My character is less a villain than he is a rival to John Wick. They’re cut from the same cloth. They’re the same type of warriors. But it’s time for battle, at a certain point. It’s a lot of fun to get to be in this movie. We shot in some great places. I just love that world and I’m excited to see what comes from it.”
It’s always good to hear that a villain won’t simply be an evil person doing evil stuff because they’re evil, to have some nuanced characteristics and perspectives to drive the nemesis or, as he puts it, rival. The musician-actor certainly seems to take this job very seriously, and he talked about he approached working with both Reeves and director Stahelski as well:
[Reeves] is the top of the line, when it comes to my experiences working with actors. He’s committed on a high level, especially on the action side. He has it from all of those dimensions. I told the director, Chad [Stahelski], ‘I want to be one of the best dudes you’ve seen that has done action, that is not a stunt guy.’ And he was like, ‘Okay.’ So, we did months of training. It was like learning a new language, learning some of the fighting techniques.”
Like the stylized aesthetic, one of the things that made John Wick so distinct is its fight choreography, and how clearly the fight scenes were shot to give the genuine thrill of hand-to-hand combat. Sure, it’s not quite as awe-inspiring as The Raid movies but the focus on giving the action potency over trying to stress any kind of disposable melodramatic arc is part of what makes the original so memorable whereas so many other action films are patently forgettable.