Based on how the box office takings have been dramatically increasing while the levels of critical and audience acclaim remain exactly the same, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that every action junkie loves John Wick.
Let’s hope that’s the case anyway, with Lionsgate going all-in on the world-building via prequel series The Continental and Ana de Armas spinoff Ballerina, as well as the return of Keanu Reeves for at least Chapters 4 and 5. However, things could have turned out a lot differently had any production companies shown interest in the original version of the script.
In an excerpt from Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman‘s They Shouldn’t Have Killed His Dog: The Complete Uncensored Oral History of John Wick, Gun Fu, and the New Age of Action, producer Basil Iwanyk reveals the title hero was originally written as 75 years old.
“The lead was a 75 year-old man, 25 years after being retired. It was the fun of watching Clint Eastwood kick ass. I thought, Okay, there’s probably one or two names you could do this with: Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford. Other than that, I’m not sure how I put this movie together. But the tone of the script for John Wick was subversive and really fun. It has a very clear emotional through line and a great premise for an action movie.”
You could maybe throw Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger into the mix, too, but you get Iwanyk’s point. As fate would have it, though, Reeves’ agent was actively seeking out projects for his client to take on when John Wick was being pitched.
“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.'”
Clearly he is not, and it turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship, one we’re hoping lasts for a while longer yet.