Hitting the Hitman: Keanu is Back for Thirds

by Tina Jøhnk Christensen May 10, 2019
Actor and director Keanu Reeves

isa foltin/getty images

Immediately after the completion of John Wick: Chapter Two, Lionsgate was eager to start production on a third installment of the successful franchise which had earned a combined $260 million in worldwide grosses. Keanu Reeves, who plays the retired hitman seeking revenge for the killing of his puppy – a present from his late wife - was eager too. He teamed up with director Chad Stahelski for the third time and started story development to continue the story of the now disgraced Wick who has a $14 million price tag on his head and is chased by an extremely high number of bounty hunters.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is the third John Wick film. What does this role mean to you in your career?

To have the opportunity to play the role in a third film and continue to tell a story, which we call a chapter, is because of the support from the audience. I was on the ground floor, or maybe not quite the ground floor, the first floor of being involved in the story, it is very personal to me. It has been very cool to be part of the collaboration on the story that we tell and to be involved with the dialogue and the characters. It has been really cool to develop it and to play it creatively and then to have the audience respond. I am really grateful for it and I hope they will love chapter 3.

John Wick is a very physical character. What did you have to do for this third chapter?

With John Wick, there is a lot of physicality, since it is an action film. The training I have is in Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido. I was also working with weapons, manipulating weapons. What was unique to John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum was that I was riding a horse.

John Wick is constantly chased. How does he deal with that?

In the films and certainly in Chapter 3, John is definitely on the run. It is exciting. For me, the character trying to survive, to remember his wife, to become free from the world of the High Table and all these rules and consequences. He is grieving and he just wants to have a moment of peace.

How involved do you get with the action sequences?

With the action, there is the vision of the director Chad Stahelski, who oversees and has the ideas and the vision of what we are going to do. In Chapter 3, my participation was like: ‘Wouldn’t it be great, if John rode a horse and tried to escape?’ And then Chad is like: ‘Yes, that’s a great idea.’ And then we start to train and get the people involved to make that happen. In terms of the physical action in the fights, there will be a process of choreography and in that choreography design I will play a part saying: ‘Maybe John could do this or this’ or: ‘wouldn’t it be cool to do this move’ and: ‘I want to do some more of these things.’ With the “gun-fu” and manipulating the weapons, that is where I have my flavor. So I am part of the collaborative process.

A scene from "John Wick 3, Parabellum", 2019

With Halle Berry and co-stars in a scene from John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum.

lionsgate

 

Do you need to prepare for the action scenes in a different way than you used to? Do you need to take extra care of your body?

I was introduced to ice baths on the Matrix trilogy. That’s because you have to recover from fighting for 14 hours a day. You become an athlete or a dancer. You are in that world of rest, recovery, training, doing what you do, rest, recovery, training, back to doing what you do. Definitely being older, I cannot jump as high or run as fast. But I have experience, which makes it more efficient.

How was it to share action sequences with Halle Berry in this film?

She is amazing. She threw herself with open arms into John Wick training and John Wick training is demanding. It demands a lot of you personally and it demands a lot of your time. Halle worked not only with the martial arts and the weapons,  her character also has some dogs. So I believe she trained for seven months.

There is a scene in which John Wick is in the desert. How was it shooting that?

We wanted to open up the world for Chapter 3. One of the ideas was for John Wick to go into the desert in search of a character that could maybe help him or save him - a member of the High Table, which is the upper level of the criminal assassin world. So it was great to film in the Sahara. I had never been there, so it was a dream of mine. To actually stand in that golden desert and be in that world was extraordinary. I look forward to having a chance to go back.