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John Wick, Director Chad Stahelski, Sequel to Oscar Stunt Snapes – The Hollywood Reporter


Few, if any, stunt doubles go on to direct their A-list counterparts in a string of blockbusters, but this was Chad Stahelski’s bizarre path. Exceptionally decent director, who initially replaced Keanu Reeves matrix Film Before becoming the martial arts coordinator for the trilogy, he has now teamed up with the star for every movie in the series John Wick concession – the last one, John Wick: Chapter 4hits theaters March 24.

But Massachusetts-born Stahelski has a lot more on his plate than the hit man series, which grossed $586 million. In addition to running Manhattan Beach’s production company 87Eleven Entertainment, he’s also acquired 87Eleven Action Design in nearby Inglewood. The rehearsal house he co-founded with fellow stuntman turned director David Leitch back in 1997 has groomed countless actors for films like The Hunger Games, The Avengers and even Anchorman 2. Starting out from his office in late February, Stahelski reflects on the life he’s spent convincing celebrities to perform stunts and offers his stellar take on why there is no place for firearms on the Hollywood set.

the John Wick The films doubled their total with each installment. Do you have any ideas on how to grow the audience?

If you had given me $200 million after the first movie, which we made for nothing, I would have screwed it up. I’ve been a part of many second units and reshoots of big franchises, and they all go to shit. So, we’ve seen other franchises that have paid the money just to pay more for everyone or a couple of bigger blowouts. It’s great for the trailer, but there’s no meat on the bone. Then we decided to spend the extra money we got shooting in three or four countries and be very careful with our casting. I’m a huge Sergio Leone fan, and there isn’t a movie he’s done where every little character isn’t adorable. that’s what I want.

You notice that Eva Longoria was an executive producer in the beginning. How did this happen?

the first John Wick She was independent, and someone went with her as an investment opportunity. When Dave Leach and I were filming, we didn’t even know about it. We didn’t meet her until after the movie came out. We finally met her at Chateau Marmont for lunch one day, and she said, “Hi, I’m Eva. Isn’t that the weirdest thing?”

Leaving Keanu Reeves, in John Wick Chapter 4 he came into the franchise with ample martial arts training, though he never worked with nunchucks until Stahelski gave him a pair I told him, These are for you.  Don't hit yourself.

Keanu Reeves (left, in John Wick: Chapter 4) to the franchise with ample martial arts training, though he never worked with nunchucks until Stahelski gave him a pair: “I said, ‘These are for you. Don’t hit yourself. “

Courtesy of Murray Close/Lionsgate

And you seem to go back and forth on whether or not to do a fifth John Wick.

In our minds, Keanu and I are done with this moment. we will give John Wick comfort. I’m sure the studio has a plan. If everyone likes him and he gets weird, we’ll have a quiet minute. wicks Always, for some strange reason, always get the latest release date in Japan. It’s always like, like, three months later. If it’s like this this time, we’ll do a Japanese tour and release the movie in September. Kian and I are going to take a long trip to Tokyo, and we’ll sit at the Imperial Hotel Scotch Bar and go, “What do you think?” We’ll have a couple of 20-year-old whiskeys and write down some ideas for napkins. If these ideas persist, maybe we’ll make a movie.

You have a long list of projects in development or pre-production – HighlanderAnd Ghost of Tsushima And rainbow six, among many others. Does this privilege prevent you from doing other things?

Hollywood loves good advertising, right? There were a few of them, and I was surprised to see that I associated with directing them. (He laughs.) Really, though, there are a lot of things I care about. But wicks Very intense, and I love being a part of it. I’ve tried to be a multitasking manager—preparing for one thing while working on another—but just can’t. That’s why they started piling up.

Kian, Charlize Theron, and Tom Cruise are getting a lot of attention for doing many of their own stunts. Who else do you like?

87Eleven is working on a lot more movies than he’s directing, so we can see who’s really excited about stunts. Bob Odenkirk was training at our facility when he was training no one. He didn’t come from an athletic background, he was in his fifties when he started coaching, but he came in with such enthusiasm. But we have a lot of people like that: Matt Damon, Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth, Halle Berry.

Halle Berry seems to be in on the stunts.

Funny story… I got a call from WME, when we were still writing John Wick 3Like, “What do you think of Halle Berry?” Well, it’s great. It’s Halle Berry. Then they said, “She’s coming to see you. Today.” I swear to you, that afternoon, there was a knock on the door, and it was Halle Berry. She didn’t miss a moment and said, “I’m just coming over to see you because I’m going to be in your next movie.” I’m like, “Are you?” Straight face says, “Yeah, and I’m going to train my ass.”

Reeves provides a stunt crew with a custom gi accompanied by actor training nunchucks.

Reeves provides a stunt crew with a custom gi accompanied by actor training nunchucks.

Photo by Yasara Gunawardena

How often does passion turn into anxiety when you hit the gym?

All the time, even with an experienced crew. It doesn’t feel normal for many of us to stand 200 feet off the ground or drive 40 cars alongside you at 30 miles per hour.

So how do you get it there?

It’s my mind. 90% of the exercises we do are based on memory. If you can’t remember five moves, it doesn’t matter how good you are with the first four. The same goes for great dancers, like Fred Astaire. You have to remember everything, so it’s about getting people to keep what they’ve learned in the group. When Kian is training in the gym, he sees everyone’s faces. In shooting, it’s a ninja pose. Everyone is in the dark. The lights glow. The guns go off. You don’t know who he is.

Bucherer watches have been awarded to those who worked on the first three Wick films

Bucherer watches have been awarded to those who worked on the first three Wick films.

Photo by Yasara Gunawardena

What have you learned working with the Wachowskis over many years and projects?

We put a line in the new movie: “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I’m sure they say it more eloquently, but that’s the Wachowski mantra. They take care of everything. No details are too small. There is no, “Hurry up. Just get it done.” There’s just, “Get perfect.” Ask anyone who’s been through all three matrix films. Of the 11 department heads, I think all 11 and all of them are at the top of their field right now. This is no accident.

A large part of your work is about safety, and your career began in 1994 doubling for Brandon Lee after he died in an accident with a gun while filming. the crow. How do you process a file Rust shooting?

What happened on Rust … I wasn’t there, but the accidents I experienced, saw, or been a part of were always human error. It is never mechanical. So, let’s just talk about firearms. Back in the day, when it all started, they came up with blanks. A void is a bullet without a shell, but they couldn’t put you and me in the same shot, 5 feet away, and one of us pulling the trigger. The force of the concussion coming out of the end of the barrel would be enough to shatter your skull. Accidents like this happened and people died because of it. But in the past 10 years, they have created electronic, plug-in guns where it is impossible for anything to get out of the barrel and [it’s]Total CG. This is how we do it. This technology is available to everyone.

Why doesn’t everyone use it?

My feeling is that there is no reason to have a live firearm. We can create cities and spaceships and Godzilla and all that stuff. We have the technology to do the same thing with firearms. But for the past 100 years, Hollywood has been wielding real firearms. And for support houses, armor or supply houses, it would render their entire inventory of real firearms useless. It has to do with the fact that it will cost some people quite a bit of money to switch. Nobody wants to say that, but here’s the real reason. You don’t need firearms. The alternative will cost you more money.

What do you think of the action game community that didn’t get their Oscar?

There is a department for every other department but ours? This is a no brainer for me. Really, there are wives’ tales and gossip and legends about why there was no class, that the academy was mad at someone about something. For all I know, this is all bullshit. We want to be recognized as one of the 11 major divisions. We’re in every trailer. Most movies are sold based on what we do.

I’ll let you go, but you ever wondered if John Wick It would have been even bigger if the catalyst for the entire franchise wasn’t getting revenge on a dead dog? The public’s appetite for human violence is endless, but dogs…

Killing a Puppy has been written as many times as it has been written again. In the end, it’s legendary. We had to overdo it, push it hard to let you know it was completely symbolic. We are not trying to be realistic. We want viewers to know we’re laughing. But you don’t even know how stressed Dave and I are about that. Damn, we were risking credit cards, a house mortgage, everything. [Producer] Basil Iwanik launched his company. Then you have that day where you realize we’re doing all this and we’re killing a puppy? I thought we would never get back from it.

Film director John Wick on Oscar-nominated aversion to stunts and how real guns still end up on sets.

the John Wick Director Chad Stahelski, on the Academy Awards’ aversion to category stunts and how the real guns still end up on sets:

Photo by Yasara Gunawardena

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the March 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.