For years, the Highlander remake was passed around various writers and directors like the cinematic equivalent of a hot potato, effectively sentencing Lionsgate and Summit’s fantasy actioner to the shelf in perpetuity. The dormant project was then given a lifeline late last year after John Wick co-director Chad Stahelski climbed aboard to direct and develop Lionsgate’s reboot, and the filmmaker has now offered up some tantalizing new details while doing the press rounds for the imminent John Wick: Chapter 2.
First up, Stahelski spoke to Collider regarding his long-time affinity with Highlander, along with the possibility of expanding the universe into a bona fide trilogy. News that Lionsgate is eager to engineer a new series of fantasy blockbusters isn’t all that surprising, particularly now that The Divergent Series has been overhauled for a TV finale and is all but set to go out on a whimper.
Here, Stahelski traces the enduring legacy of Highlander all the way back to Russell Mulcahy’s zany original.
“If you go back and watch the original Highlander, whether the quality holds up or not or the filmmaking process holds up, there are things about that movie beneath just the shots and the lighting, there’s a mythology there, for some reason, it hooks us. We love that world. everybody loves the immortal realm. Everybody loves the code — There can be only one. There’s something about it that hooks you, hooks me, hooks all the fanboys about it. I went so far as I know every episode of all six seasons, plus the seventh season if you count Raven as a series, plus the novels, there’s something about the world that’s hooking.”
When pressed about the film’s potential rating, Chad Stahelski was quick to note that he doesn’t consciously adhere to one specific rating while filming, and will instead leave the decision in the hands of the Powers That Be.
“Thus far the people in charge of the pocket book and all that, they’ve asked [the rating question] and I said, ‘Look, the way I work, the way we did John Wick, we never set about making a hardcore rated-R action movie, we said we’re going to do this, this is the design we want to do, this is what we feel is fun. If heads coming apart is an R, great. If heads coming apart is a PG, great. Ratings are second to what we’re going to do. Highlander, I think the action is — at least what’s in my head — is going to fall on a line, for sure. We want to design it what we think is aesthetically cool, and so far I’ve met no resistance, they’re like, ‘Look, whatever you did with John Wick with the gun stuff, we want you to try and do with the sword stuff. We want you to make something cool and something unique, and something that’s going to make audiences say ‘Wow, I haven’t seen that before.’”
There’s certainly plenty of potential for Stahelski and Co. to mine in anticipation of Highlander marching forth into production, whenever that may be. In closing, the director also confirmed that he’ll be re-teaming with John Wick composer Tyler Bates to produce a score befitting of a modern-day remake. John Wick: Chapter 2, meanwhile, opens on February 10th.