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Chad Stahelski, ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ Director, On Keanu Reeves, Ruby Rose, James Bond Rumor :: WINM :: Keanu Reeves Articles & Interviews Archive
uInterview (US), February 18, 2017

Chad Stahelski, ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ Director, On Keanu Reeves, Ruby Rose, James Bond Rumor

by Catherine Valdez

For Chad Stahelski, director of John Wick: Chapter 2,helming a sequel to the original John Wick film was all about evolving the characters and the franchise.

The film, which stars Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne and Ruby Rose, continues the story of assassin Jack Wick who in the first film comes out of retirement in order to seek retribution when mafia boss Viggo’s son Iosef steals his vintage Mustang and in the process also shoots and kills the dog his newly deceased wife gifted him to help him with his mourning. Losing one of the last links to his wife, Wick is set on killing Iosef and as a result has a bounty put on his head. In this new installment, Wick is forced to repay an old debt. In order to retire, prior to the events in the first film, and marry his wife, Wick made an unbreakable oath with Italian crime boss D’Antonio, which is legitimized in the underground world of assassins with a device known as a Blood Oath Marker which records the debtors blood thumbprint.

A challenge for Stahelski was creating a film that lived up the original world created in the first film. “I think the trick with the sequel was to try to do — basically encapsulate what’s familiar or what people really enjoyed about the first film and then try to expand or give a little original material in with the familiar, and that’s what we really tried to do,” he told uInterview. This creativity can be see in the film’s mirror scene, where it took a certain degree of ingenuity to shoot in a room with over 300 mirrors without capturing any of the staff or cameras. He labeled it as “probably the most creatively difficult ” in the film.

The director only had positive things to say about the stars of his film, muffling a few chuckles as he recalled some moments with cast, yet he made sure to challenge his stars. Keanu Reeves, for one, received intense physical training worthy of an actual professional assassin. When brainstorming on how to take John Wick’s character to the next level, Stahelski and his creative team decided that “if we want to see the world get bigger and more involved we also need to get the character a little bit more — or just expand on what the character can do, and in this case that’s physical skills so Keanu went through twice the training that he did on the original film and we tried to get him a few more skill sets and improve on what he already did,” he told uInterview.

Co-star Ruby Rose had her own unique set of challenges. Her character Ares, crime lord D’Antonio’s personal bodyguard is deaf and has no spoken lines in the film. Stahhelski recalled the humorous encounter in which he first pitched the idea to the actress. He told her, “look I have this kooky idea what do you say we make you mute, and the only way you communicate is through sign language.” She was was slow to warm up to idea until the director explained the motivation behind the choice. “It took a little bit of convincing of how we thought that was going to be cool with the sign language and the subtitles and the payoff when John actually signs back to her because in our world John seems to know about every language there is. And, to her credit, I think she got the joke after my 20 minutes of a lot of gesturing, and she went full on with it, so it was pretty cool of her.”

With the success of the John Wick films, Stahhelski is musing about the potential of directing a James Bond film, a series that inspired him in his youth and got him interested in film. “Bond was super cool, he was super sleek. St the same time you were having fun through all the movies, not at the expense of goofy gags or jokes or side-gags, but it was so slick. It was fun. And I think Bond can use a little of that,” he told uInterview. “It would be challenging to re-create the Bond world and to infuse a little bit more of what bond was known for back in the ’70s days which is epic action while still having fun and giving it a really slick look. I think that would be a very unique world-building challenge.”

Q: How did you approach directing this sequel? -

It's always tricky when you're trying to do a sequel or you're tying to improve on the original, just because the first one was original... I think the trick with the sequel was to try to do — basically encapsulate what's familiar or what people really enjoyed about the first film and then try to expand or give a little original material in with the familiar, and that's what we really tried to do. Instead of trying to over-plot or — I guess, combine different story lines we tried to just stay with John and let him take us through the world so the audience would get a deeper insight and deeper view to the hidden world of assassins that we established so well in the first film.

Q: What was Keanu Reeve's most challenging Scene? -

Well, I think he faces a very similar challenge as the creative team did. Its "how do we take something that we put a lot of time and energy into to make somewhat original and how do you improve on that." And I think the approach that we all took was - okay, well we're going to start with Keanu and if we want to see the world get bigger and more involved we also need to get the character a little bit more — or just expand on what the character can do, and in this case that's physical skills so Keanu went through twice the training that he did on the original film and we tried to get him a few more skill sets and improve on what he already did. So,when you actually see. Keanu Reeves doing it as John Wick or doing the action as John Wick it brings a little more honesty and it brings a little more believability to the character. So we tried to improve on what his physical skills were.

Q: What was a memorable moment on set with Ruby Rose? -

I always enjoyed Ruby Rose. When I saw her on Orange Is The New Black, I thought she had a great look and I thought she brought this weird type of toughness-softness to the role. We were looking for someone to play a different kind - none of our guys are good guys or bad guys. They're kind of in the world and we want a great character actress to actually play great characters and bring some uniqueness to the role so that it just wasn't the stereotypical bad guy or the stereotypical bad guy-girl, if you will. So Ruby kind of brought this presence we thought was really cool. She's very catty. She's very sinewy, I guess, and we really liked that about her. And she brings a certain type of attitude and confidence to a role. We kind of took that, and I remember thinking when Ruby had come in for the first interview, we hit it off very well, and she said she's very interested and she loved the world. She came in for the second talk and that's when kind of I hit her with "look I have this kooky idea what do you say we make you mute, and the only way you communicate is through sign language," and I got a pretty hard stare from Ruby. [Ruby:] So you want me to not talk the whole filming?" [Stahelski:] "Yea that'd be cool." And again, lots of starring. So it took a little bit of convincing of how we thought that was going to be cool with the sign language and the subtitles and the payoff when John actually signs back to her because in our world John seems to know about every language there is. And, to her credit, I think she got the joke after my twenty minutes of a lot of gesturing, and she went full on with it, so it was pretty cool of her.

Q: What was the trickiest scene to shoot in the film? -

Keanu is such a professional. He's such a hard trainer. By the time we even step on set he's got it pretty dialed in. The trickiest scenes are always the big logistical. Probably the most creatively difficult for all of us was the mirror room scene in, just because of the problems that ensued from shooting in a room with over 300 mirrors.

Q: There are rumors you may direct a James Bond Film? What is your approach? -

You know we have a pretty simple philosophy about — I love character driven plots. What I loved - one of my biggest motivators to be in film were the old Bond movies. You know, it's wish fulfillment, it's ability to take you different places all over the world, and they had this really cool — Bond was super cool, he was super sleek. At the same time you were having fun through all the movies, not at the expense of goofy gags or jokes or side-gags, but it was so slick. It was fun. And I think Bond can use a little of that. It would be challenging to re-create the bond world and to infuse a little bit more of what bond was known for back in the '70s days which is epic action while still having fun and giving it a really slick look. I think that would be a very unique world-building challenge.




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John Wick: Chapter 2

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John Wick: Chapter 2



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