'John Wick 3' Director Chad Stahelski, DP Dan Laustsen Recall Sandstorms and Other Challenges in 'Behind the Screen' Podcast

The pair describe creating "beautiful action" while handling the logistics of getting a horse to run through Brooklyn.
Niko Tavernise
'John Wick 3'

John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum’s director Chad Stahelski and cinematographer Dan Laustsen are featured in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Behind the Screen podcast series. “We’re trying to make beautiful action,” Stahelski sums up of the film.

The Lionsgate thriller, starring Keanu Reeves as the title assassin, was shot on locations in New York and Morocco, delivering no shortage of challenges including heavy rain, intense heat, brutal sandstorms, as well as the logistics of working in locations from New York’s Verrazano Bridge and busy Grand Central Station to Africa’s Sahara Desert.

The shoots also included scenes where Reeves rides a horse through Brooklyn, which required placing heavy mats down because horses can’t run on asphalt. “Each is 6 by 8 and weighs about 220 pounds. You have to move them around on forklifts,” Stahelski explains, adding that they were digitally removed from the final shots.

An accomplished martial artist, Stahelski started his career as a stuntman and stunt coordinator. He, in fact, met Reeves when he was his stunt double for The Matrix. He co-directed John Wick and was the sole director on Chapter’s 2 and 3

Danish cinematographer Dan Laustsen is the Oscar-nominated director of photography for Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. Laustsen also lensed del Toro’s Mimic and Crimson Peak, and he’s set to reteam with the director on Nightmare Alley.

Laustsen, who first worked with Stahelski on John Wick Chapter 2, relates that when they met to discuss John Wick, the director said, "I want to do an Italian Bertolucci movie with a lot of action.' And I was like, of course, this is amazing."

In the podcast, which was recorded just prior to the film's May 17 opening day, the pair describe the cinematography and working with production design. Stahelski also discusses topics from training the actors in martial arts to creating the soundscape. Since the opening, Lionsgate confirmed that John Wick 4 is planned, with a May 21, 2021 release date.

Hosted by Carolyn Giardina, Behind the Screen features the talent behind the making of motion pictures and episodic programs.

Hear it all below on Behind the Screen — and be sure to subscribe to the podcast to never miss an episode.