John Wick 4's Mr. Nobody Was Inspired By Heath Ledger's Joker

Chad Stahelski's "John Wick: Chapter 4" was such a massive undertaking that entire side characters, each one worthy of headlining their own action franchise, merely drift around the margins, waiting to contribute to the film's central fight scenes. There is the blind assassin Caine (Donnie Yen), who can locate his victims by sound and by placing motion-activated doorbells around the rooms he intends to fight in. There is Akira (Rina Sawayama) and her father Koji (Hiroyuki Sanada), the people who run the Continental Hotel in Osaka, each one deeply knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the assassin world. There is the Russian mobster Killa Harkan (Scott Adkins), an outsize, cackling villain who cheats at cards, sports golden teeth, and can handily pummel any foes into submission. One cannot accuse the "John Wick" movies of lacking for colorful supporting characters — but you might be able to say that "Chapter 4" proves that an action movie can have too much action.

"Chapter 4" also features a character who refuses to introduce himself, and is credited merely as Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson). Also referred to as The Tracker, Mr. Nobody is an efficient sniper who seems to be in the assassination game merely for the money. He often waits until other assassins are done fighting before shooting his targets from afar. Notably, Mr. Nobody also owns an adorable mid-size dog that he has trained to attack certain parts of his victims' anatomy. Unlike the other assassins in the "John Wick" universe, Mr. Nobody dresses down, wearing boots, a knit cap, and sporting a utilitarian backpack. He doesn't doll himself up in nice suits and tuxedos like so many in his profession. 

The parallels may not be readily apparent, but according to a recent interview with Vulture, Anderson said that Mr. Nobody was inspired by the Joker, the Batman villain as he appeared in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight." 

The mysterious backstory

As an actor, Anderson had to, at least abstractly, invent a backstory for his character, even though his past was left intentionally vague by the "John Wick: Chapter 4" filmmakers. His ideas weren't written into the script, but they were a handy way to inform his character. Anderson took superficial elements of Mr. Nobody — his costume, his props, etc. — and reverse-engineered the "whys." If Mr. Nobody had a mark on his body, it was Anderson's job to invent the story as to how he got it. Those kinds of details clearly enriched his performance. Anderson said:

"I looked at the Joker and studied a lot of what Heath Ledger did, how exciting that character was; you just knew that guy had a robust past. Like, Why did he get those scars? And, for me, Why do I have this canine? Why do I have this knapsack? Why am I dressed like this? This guy's transient. He has pockets because he travels so much; he doesn't really change."

It seems the only direct connection Mr. Nobody had with the Joker was that he was resolute, but also mysterious. Audiences could understand his standpoint and his motivation while never understanding his path or his backstory. It's an effective way to keep viewers intrigued, while still allowing the character to be mutable and mysterious. The principle is the thing. Even if the principle is related to chaos and/or murder.

Everyone loves a Tracker

Anderson also said that he actually wrote notes in a ubiquitous notebook the character was always carrying. He doesn't say what exactly he was writing in there, but he did let readers know what he stuffed in his ever-present knapsack. Of course, it all came back to his pet dog. Anderson said:

"That notebook you see in the film, I took that home and wrote a lot in there. That knapsack that he had on, I had a lot of personal items, like dog toys, dog treats, lighters engraved with my name. I just had to put my DNA on this. And I think it's translating as people are infatuated with the Tracker."

As of this writing, the "John Wick" series is already going to spin off into a separate feature film starring Ana de Armas called "Ballerina," about one of the badass murderers from "John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum." There is also a spinoff TV series in the works called "The Continental," all about the high-end assassins-only hotel where John Wick would find solace and weapons. "The Continental," however, is set in the 1970s, when it first opened. 

With these projects on the horizon, and any number of colorful characters lurking in the "John Wick" movies, there's no reason why Mr. Nobody should also be given a spinoff of his own. Anderson's biggest dream, it seems, was not only to star in such a film, but to act opposite Meryl Streep. After all, what actor wouldn't want to star opposite Meryl Streep, the best actor ever?