Halle Berry and 'John Wick 3' Director Detail Grueling Shoot

"Two sandstorms wiped us out in the Sahara," Chad Stahelski tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for CinemaCon
Halle Berry and Chad Stahelski at CinemaCon

Halle Berry joined director Chad Stahelski to introduce a new sequence from Lionsgate’s May 17 release John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum at CinemaCon Thursday.

The footage they debuted featured an action sequence with Berry and Keanu Reeves’ Wick shot in Morocco.

Saying she was a fan of the series, Berry immediately wanted to sign on as a sort of female Wick. 

“But Chad said he didn’t have a script yet. And he said you are going to train harder than anything in your life. And I said sign me up,” Berry recalled, adding, “And it was the hardest thing ever done in my entire life."

Staheski actually started his career as a stunt performer and met Reeves when he was his stunt double on The Matrix. And so he implemented training for Berry and Reeves six days a week in martial arts, firearms and the like, because — as the helmer told The Hollywood Reporter earlier in the day— there a realism when the actor is actually doing the stunts and “the best way to fake good is to be good.” 

Noted Berry onstage of the training, “If I get attacked on the street, God bless them, because I know some stuff that will fuck them up.”

In addition to creating real action, Stahelski believes in shooting in real locations.

"I’m a big fan of James Bond films, Steve McQueen, and they always worked on location,” the director explained to THR, saying that he aims to shot as much as possible on location. For this third installment of the franchise, the filmmakers returned to New York and this time also filmed in Morocco, with a stop in the Sahara Desert. Returning was John Wick 2 cinematographer Dan Laustsen (Oscar nominated for The Shape of Water).

“Two sandstorms wiped us out, our tents, lights, camera — and director,” Stahelski said of working in the Sahara, adding that the temperatures could exceed 100 degrees, but they filmed at a time of year when it was closer to 80-85 degrees.

It was Reeves who initially came up with the idea for Morocco.

“Keanu is a very collaborative part of the process," Stahelski said. “We were talking about what to do to mix in it. Keanu brought up the image of John Wick climbing a sand dune in the desert.”

But this was easier said than done, where you have weapons and a stunt team. The director told THR. “We had a truckload of [modified for filming] firearms that we were bringing into another country. That doesn’t guarantee you an invitation. You have to really explain it.”