In the new book They Shouldn’t Have Killed His Dog: The Complete Uncensored A**-Kicking Oral History of John Wick, Gun Fu, and the New Age of Action, franchise producer Basil Iwanyk confirmed that the role was originally meant for an older actor.
“One of my best friends is Charlie Ferraro at United Talent Agency, who sent me this script from [screenwriter] Derek Kolstad called Scorn,” Iwanyk said. “The lead was a 75-year-old man, 25 years after being retired.
The 52-year-old producer then explained how Reeves came into the picture.
“My other best friend in the world, this guy Jimmy Darmody, is an agent at CAA, who at the time represented Keanu,” Iwanyk said.
“And he said, ‘Do you have any action movies for Keanu Reeves?’ I remember thinking to myself, ‘Keanu is one of the great action stars of the last 25 years – what happened to him? What’s he been doing?’ And he was directing his movie, Man of Tai Chi, and doing 47 Ronin. We give him the script, we tell him, ‘Clearly, you’re not 75.’”
Reeves, however, said in the book that he immediately knew John Wick would be “such a great collaboration”.
“We all agreed on the potential of the project,” he said.
According to Kolstad, it was Reeves himself “who got his talons into [the script] and made it his own”.
The screenwriter revealed that he “spent two months at Keanu’s house on the weekends” working on the script.
Kolstad recalled that Reeves “read [the script] on a Friday, in 90 minutes, and was like he wants to do it”.
“In that moment, before I met and really clicked with him, I was like, ‘Yeah, I really want to do it, too,’” he added. “The first thing that Keanu said to me was, ‘Okay, Derek, I’m going to play him 35.’ And I’m like, ‘Fine.’”
The most recent film, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, was released in 2019.
The new film, titled John Wick Chapter Four, will be released in cinemas in March 2023.
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