John Wick stunt driver on racing motorbikes with Keanu Reeves and what happens when things go wrong
by Louise Griffin
The car stunts on the John Wick movies might play out in seconds on screen, but they often take weeks to put together and rehearse, with entrances and roads being blocked off by the police.
And motorcycle-lover Keanu Reeves has a special bond with the stunt drivers, once inviting them out to famous California racetrack Laguna Seca, which he’d privately rented for weekend.
As part of our new series, Seeing Double, which looks into the extraordinary lives of some of film and TV’s most fearless performers – stunt doubles – we talk to Jeremy Fry, who is best known for doubling for Keanu Reeves and performing epic car stunts on all three John Wick movies.
Jeremy opened up to Metro.co.uk about everything from the craziest car stunts he’s performed and what happens when things go wrong, to what Keanu was like on set.
What was the most difficult stunt on the John Wick movies?
‘The second one in John Wick 2 when he finds his Mustang. That whole sequence we tried to make it look like it was happening in a larger area than it was,’ Jeremy explained.
‘The floor of this warehouse was about three feet lower than the parking lot outside. So they had this ramp that was already part of the building.’
Jeremy recalled a stunt he’d seen in Big Hero 6 where a car is jumped sideways, and mentioned it to the stunt co-ordinator Darren Prescott, who agreed they could give it a go for Wick.
‘The door was 20 feet wide, and the car was about 18 feet long,’ he continued. ‘So if I was coming out if I happen to be sideways, I only had a foot on either end at speed to get the car out the door. So it was tricky.’
On the first try, Jeremy hit the front bumper of the ‘pristine’ Mustang on the edge of the doorway, ripping the front off and admitting: ‘Physically I was fine. Emotionally I was destroyed.’
On the fifth try, he described the atmosphere as ‘electric.’
‘They played it back and it was so cool…For whatever reason on that shot, everything had kind of come together,’ he said. ‘It’s one of the coolest shots that I’ve been a part of.’
What was it like working with Keanu?
‘He is a giver, he is selfless, he works tirelessly. Every good thing you’ve heard about him is 110% true,’ Jeremy raved, adding that the actor was often self-critical and keen to get stunts spot on.
On John Wick 2, Jeremy and Keanu bonded over their love for motorcycles, with the stuntman recalling: ‘He goes, “Hey, how would you like to go to Laguna Seca?” and when Keanu Reeves asks you if you wanna go pretty much anywhere, you say yes.’
He added: ‘Turns out he had rented Laguna Seca, which is a very well-known popular racetrack in California, and he rented it for two days, private rental, there were about eighty of his friends and people he knew.
‘There were celebrities there, people from different industries there, a huge cross-section of people. He put us up in local hotels, he catered breakfast, lunch, dinners.’
Recalling how amazing it was to introduce his brother to Keanu and race motorcycles with him all weekend, Jeremy added: ‘That was a very special time for me for many different reasons.’
Did Keanu want to do his own stunts?
‘There was there was a shot where we wanted Keanu to slide up the camera and we wanted to…have the camera come right up to him,’ Jeremy recalled.
‘And we worked with him for a while on that one, and it’s a tricky one [but] he nailed it. He did such a good job on that.’
Explaining that the stunt was particularly designed for Keanu, Jeremy added: ‘It’s always interesting to me when actors want to do their own stunts… when you have people who you can use and you won’t know that it’s not them.
‘But Keanu, he completely gets that. He has never said, “I want to do that. I want to do it.” He trusts Darren and [director Chad Stahelski] to make the best decision that they can and he knows that they will use him whenever they feel it’s appropriate and safe.’
Are there any stunts Jeremy was terrified to try?
‘I will never get to a situation where I feel like I’m rolling the dice,’ he pointed out. ‘I might have the initial feeling like “Oh, man, this could be really bad.”
‘But then when you really think about it, and I really process and evaluate it, I go “Okay, this gag has been done before many times. I have all the safeties in place. There’s plenty of people far smarter and more intelligent than I that have signed off on this.’
He added: ‘I would say that I never have and I never would do anything where I felt like I was risking my life or anyone else’s.’
Nevertheless, Jeremy admitted: ‘Over the course of my job I’ve definitely been sitting in the car going, “Oh man, I can’t wait until this is over, why didn’t I become an accountant like my mum always suggested?”‘
Is it more dangerous being a stunt driver?
‘I think people get more injured during fights, a lot of practical stunts, getting thrown down a hillside or getting tossed into a wall. I think people get beat up more doing that kind of stuff.
‘That being said, when the big gags happen, the chances of getting hurt, seriously hurt, are probably higher with what we’re doing just because having an actor accidentally hit you in the face, which has happened to me, I mean, it hurts.
‘But when you are hitting a ramp and are [going] at 60 miles an hour, the chances of getting seriously hurt, probably a lot higher.’
Jeremy added: ‘In a car [if] you want to do a rehearsal, you’ve got to have a location, you got to have everyone locking it up, locking up all the different entrances to our area. We might have the cops that have to close traffic. We got the AD on the walkies making sure that everyone’s safe. And it’s a production that’s just for one rehearsal.’
‘Other [stunts] can be stressful,’ he continued. ‘But cars tend to present challenges and obstacles that other elements of stunt performing do not. But that being said every facet of our industry of stunts has their own individual and unique challenges.’
Jeremy's stunt double CV
As well as working closely with Keanu, Jeremy’s doubled for the likes of Tom Felton, Bradley Cooper, and Ryan Gosling
He’s worked on franchises including Fast and Furious, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Bourne, and co-ordinated the crazy car chases on Baby Driver
Having started his stunt career in 2001, he’s well-respected in the stunt driving world