“That’s what we set out to do in the first one — build a universe where you can escape into and fantasize about,” David Leitch, executive producer and director of the original John Wick, told The Hollywood Reporter at the premiere of John Wick: Chapter 2. “ A lot of people want to fantasize about the empowerment that John Wick has. When someone does something wrong, you can sort of let it out aggressively and that’s what action movies allow you to do. John Wick is the same universe that you get to play in — a fun, sexy universe.”
The stars of the latest pic — Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Common, Ruby Rose, Claudia Gerini, Riccardo Scamarcio and Lance Reddick — and the filmmakers reunited on the black carpet Monday night at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood.
“They created something in a space that I don’t think people believed there to be room for anymore,” Rose told THR. “The Mission: Impossible and the James Bond [films] — to create a new one in that space seemed kind of impossible. I think Keanu is a big part of that, and [director] Chad [Stahelski] is a big part of that, too. And the stunts! There is nothing like that.”
Said writer and creator Derek Kolstad: “Many people refer to John Wick as the devil who finds salvation. I really do believe that everyone can be saved. The simple unspoken language between his wife and the one connection with his dog is one of those things we can all connect to.”
Added Stahelski: “That’s something that everybody has — an internal ‘us’ and an external ‘us’ that we share with everybody else. I firmly believe that everyone has a hero inside of them.”
The John Wick films also served as somewhat of a reunion for Stahelski and Leitch, who previously worked as stunt doubles with Reeves on the Matrix trilogies. On John Wick: Chapter 2, another Matrix character jumped on board, as Reeves invited Fishburne to join the cast as The Bowery King. Stahelski said he had to pinch himself and described the experience of working with both actors as “fantastic.”
As for the stunts, there is even more blood, guns and knives in the second film. Stahelski said he gets his inspiration from traveling, reading books and martial artists from all over the world when designing new sequences. The cast wanted to make the scenes look as real as possible, and even though the film had a stunt team, the actors enjoyed training and getting to do some of their own stunts.
“Chad designed some great action sequences, and Keanu just killed it. He lays himself out there and does basically everything himself,” said producer Jeff Waxman.
“One thing I was determined to do was be in the film doing the action,” said Common. “I take pride in not having stuntmen do my work. We had a great stunt team, but our director wanted us to be the ones fighting, rolling down, rolling on the ground, jumping over cars. [Reeves] had an intensity of wanting to deliver the best performance. I was right there with him.”
When asked what you should do if John Wick comes after you, the cast and crew all agreed: Accept defeat. “I would give up and beg for mercy. He doesn’t miss, so I would just accept your fate,” Leitch exclaimed. “He is the boogeyman!”
John Wick: Chapter 2 is set to hit theaters Feb. 10.